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Posts Tagged ‘Julie Mason’

ABC’s Scandal Portrays Washington Media As Politicians Wish It Were: Obedient

In Thursday’s episode of ABC’s Scandal, one scene portrays the government-media relationship in a way more detached from reality than a prediction made by Dick Morris.

The first lady and widow of a just-found-dead preacher are seated on a sofa with a White House pool reporter roughly six feet away. The first lady expresses her condolences to the widow, who had previously been instructed by the main character, Olivia Pope, to simply say “thank you.” Repeatedly. Instead, the widow pipes up and under her breath says her husband “had a mistress.” Attempting to take notes, the pool reporter, a young blonde woman, says she “didn’t hear that.”

Before the widow has time to repeat herself, the first lady asks that the entire room be cleared, including the reporter, for a “moment of prayer.” The reporter obeys without question.

Here’s how it would have happened: The first lady asks the reporter — in all likelihood a person who looks and behaves more like The Daily Caller‘s Neil Munro — to leave the room for a moment of prayer. The Munro-like reporter would have, at the very least, followed up with a shouted “WHAT DID YOU SAY, WIDOW?!”

Former White House reporter Julie Mason filled us in further on what was off about the scene. “In reality, the pool probably wouldn’t even be within shouting distance [of the first lady], let alone whisper-accessible,” said Mason, a host on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. Channel. “As for stepping politely outside, the pool would more likely be herded up and shown the door by a staffer who was shouting ‘THANK YOU.’”

UPDATE: Christian Science Monitor‘s David Grant backs up Mason. “[S]aid reporter would have gotten tossed out of the room pretty quickly as soon as the principle (in this case, the first lady) wanted you gone,” he told us. Grant, however, dismissed the idea of a Munro-like reporter shouting at a suffering widow. “Yeah, that’s doubtful. I think it’s incumbent on the press to keep things in perspective: The difference is clear between badgering a widow and trying to get the President to answer a question at the end of a press conference. If you can ask unobtrusively, then ask. If you can’t, it’s over.”

Other details from the show that would never happen in D.C.: The said “mistress” shows up at the National Cathedral for the funeral of the deceased preacher. Under the advice of Pope, the widow reluctantly lets the mistress in to avoid any further repercussions. At the funeral’s end, the widow appears to have found total compassion, puts her arm around the mistress and walks her down the aisle to view the casket.

Here’s how that would have happened in real life:

 

From McDonald’s to Gwen Stefani’s Nursery: Top 13 Places Where WH Pool Reporters Go To Wait

A large part of pooling with the White House involves patience and what can amount to hours and hours of waiting for very little news. The places journos must linger are routinely included in the reports, but more and more they’re turning into elaborate explanations of where “your pooler” is, or more importantly, where they are forbidden from going. Most often they wait it out in food courts. But waiting also happens in garages, outside restaurants, in cars, vans, laundry rooms and on the lawn. Even a closet, as The Orlando Sentinel‘s Bill Nelson knows too well. He was memorably placed in one during a fundraiser last year attended by Vice President Joe Biden.

13. Vans: “There’s lots of waiting… Often in vans for hours and hours,” Politico‘s Jennifer Epstein says.

12. Food courts: “When I was covering the White House, I came to believe in the concept of pool karma. A miserable eight-hour day at the Andrews Air Force Base food court while POTUS played golf would be followed by an eight hour protective hold poolside at the Beverly Hilton.”– ReutersSam Youngman.

11. Outside McDonald’s: After waiting more than hour outside of a McDonald’s in early August, freelance journalist Matt Laso wrote, “The pool now smells like grease and is daydreaming of fresh vegetables.”

10. School cafeteria: While in New Hampshire, Christian Science Monitor’s David Grant filed from “what looks like the school cafeteria.”

9. Laundry room: “[S]everal industrial strength washing machines were lined up and sports equipment, such as football helmets, were piled up in metal cages,” WaPo‘s David Nakamura wrote in a report of a college laundry room he was put in to wait. On the bleached bright side, Nakamura told us he was “pleasantly surprised at how good the Internet was in that laundry room.”

8. Outside dry cleaners: Pooling with POTUS earlier this month, Politico‘s Epstein filed from outside a dry cleaners. Sounding upbeat about it, she says “It was only about 70 degrees, so not uncomfortable.”

7. Various locations around Graceland: “When [former President] Bush took former Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi to pay homage to Elvis, the Japanese leader kept dropping to one knee and singing, while the pool looked on stoically,” Sirius/XM P.O.T.U.S. Channel’s Julie Mason says. “Reporters couldn’t believe their relentless, sanguinary ascent up the pitiless ladder of corporate media led them to…the Monkey Room.”

6. W. Hotel bar: This month WaPo‘s Scott Wilson pooled with POTUS for a fundraiser at the W. Hotel where he was made to wait at the hotel bar. “But no drink for me (just some club soda),” Wilson said.

5. Back deck, nursery room and garage of Gwen Stefani’s home– Pooling with FLOTUS at singer Gwen Stefani’s home in California was WSJ‘s Erica Orden. A back deck, nursery and garage sound like terrible, musty places to wait. But it was Stefani’s house and that’s something. We asked Orden if the nursery smelled like baby poop but she didn’t respond.

4. House in Hawaii with pest problem: One one of the Obama family’s Hawaii getaways, Politico‘s Epstein pooled along. She, with other reporters, were kept in a house next door. “It had just been sold and had bug infestations in the bathrooms,” she said. The house did have a pool — Epstein and the other reporters were sure to spend time by it (though she says she never actually got in).

3. President’s Palace in Delhi: WaPo‘s Wilson pooled with Obama and the First Lady for the State Dinner in India in 2010. He said the press was held in a sitting room for the event but called the palace the “most exotic” place he’s ever been held.

2. The Sit Down Cafe and Sushi Bar: Epstein identified this venue as a favorite place of one of the White House press aides to take reporters while in Chicago. A look at the restaurant’s website shows there’s WiFi, beer, wine and sake (on Mondays bottles are 50 percent off).

1. The private basketball court of a Crocs co-founder: “We played White House staffers in ping-pong and enjoyed snacks served by waiters in white dinner jackets,” SiriusXM’s Mason said.

Fishbowl Summer Superlatives – THE RESULTS!

Now that everyone has had a chance to vote, the results are in for the FishbowlDC Superlatives. We’ll be rolling out the results today and tomorrow, so be on the lookout to see how your nominees did.

Biggest Self Promoter– This was the closest vote that we had in the whole competition. It was between Former Daily Caller reporter Michelle Fields, ABC News White House Correspondent Jake Tapper, The Daily Beast and CNN’s Howard Kurtz, WaPo’s Chris Cillizza and Publicist Tammy Haddad. The photo finish saw Tammy Haddad beat out Fields by only five votes! Congratulations Tammy!

Worst Temper– The candidates were Mother Jones’s David Corn, Politico’s Jim VandeHei, Politico’s Tim Grieve, Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher, and Slate’s Matt Yglesias. The people have spoken and they say Tim Grieve has the worst temper in Washington! We’d congratulate him, but we’re afraid it might set him off.

Favorite Flack– We asked you to choose between POTUS campaign spokeswoman Jen Psaki, Mitt Romney spokesman Brendan Buck, House Maj. Leader Eric Cantor’s Deputy Chief of Staff Doug Heye and NRCC’s Brian Walsh (pitched as Drama and Turtle), C-SPAN’s Howard Mortman, and House Maj. Whip Kevin McCarthy spokeswoman Erica Elliott. Despite a last minute push by Mortman, the winners were Doug Heye and Brian Walsh!

Most Likely to Wind Up in Jail– The suspects choices were Politico’s Joe Williams, PR Exec. David Bass, BuzzFeed’s John Stanton, The Daily Caller’s David Martosko, The Daily Caller’s Neil Munro, Reason‘s Mike Riggs and freelancer Moe Tkacik. The overwhelming winner was Joe Williams.

Class Clown: This category was a joke. The results were the most lopsided in all of the superlatives. The contenders were Sirius XM’s Julie Mason, Roll Call HOH’s Neda Semnani, Yahoo! News’ Olivier KnoxReuter‘s Sam Youngman, The Atlantic‘s Scott Stossel, Wonkette and The Guardian‘s Jim Newell and The Drudge Report’s Charlie Hurt. Julie Mason walked away with this category with a crushing 46 percent of the vote.

Most likely to end up with a reality show– In D.C., there are PLENTY of options, but we narrowed them down to Mediaite’s Tommy Christopher, ABC7’s Stephen Tschida, TWT‘s Emily Miller, Susanna Quinn, Publicist and blogger Janet Donovan, NBC’s Luke Russert, Current TV’s David Shuster,and CNN’s Roland Martin. The winner of this category was…  Emily Miller! (Our advice would be to make sure you get the lighting right on her reality show or she might shoot the bulbs out.)

Thanks to everyone who voted, but we aren’t done yet with the big reveal. Check back tomorrow to find out the winners of all of our other categories, which include Best Writer, Sexiest, and Best On-Air Personality!

SiriusXM Unveils Convention Coverage

SiriusXM has put together around-the-clock convention coverage featuring several “pop-up” radio shows from each host city. A new channel called “Convention Radio” will let both sides of the political aisle have a chance to maximize their time in the spotlight.

At the RNC in Tampa, Convention Radio will feature conservative voices such as Will Cain and S.E. Cupp from TheBlaze. In Charlotte, the DNC coverage will have shows hosted by Daily Kos contributors.

“We are proud to bring our subscribers this extensive and diverse collection of political coverage, particularly now when the conversation about the country’s direction for the next four years is front and center,” said Scott Greenstein, President and Chief Content Officer, SiriusXM. “Our subscribers can choose between a variety of perspectives, call in to share their own views, and experience the RNC and DNC as if they were there.”

Those interested can tune in on the first day of the Republican Convention, Aug. 27, on Sirius channel 123 and XM channel 142 and on SiriusXM Patriot Plus online. SiriusXM Convention Radio will also air from the Democratic National Convention beginning Sept. 4 on Sirius channel 123 and XM channel 142 and on SiriusXM Left Plus online.

In addition to the special programming, SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel will carry every speech from both conventions live. Hosts Tim Farley, Julie Mason and Pete Dominick will be on hand to broadcast live with guests and get immediate reaction to the events.

The full lineup and channel information can be found at www.siriusxm.com/Election2012

With Ryan Comes Spark in Journalistic Tone

Journalists were as invested as anyone in Mitt Romney‘s VP pick. After all, they’re the ones stuck covering these two for the next three-plus months. Pawlenty and Portman: Boring with two capital P’s.

But Paul Ryan? He puts a spring in their step.

This morning on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” TIME‘s Mark Halperin spoke of what he suspects will be a shift in coverage with the Ryan choice. Granted, his remarks might cause his colleagues to avoid him on the bus and not because he forgot mouthwash. “Another constituency he has, almost every national political reporter knows Paul Ryan and likes Paul Ryan more than they do Mitt Romney and that gives Romney a little bit of an edge he was missing, which was pro-Obama in the press corps,” he said.

Sirius XM P.O.T.U.S. Channel’s Julie Mason bristled at the idea that Ryan would bring positive coverage or that journos are in the tank for Obama. “Hill reporters respect Ryan, but that doesn’t necessarily translate into more positive coverage — especially if the campaign’s posture is still limited access, few press conferences and only friendly, safe interviews,” she said this morning by email. “And the idea that the press corps is pro-Obama is frankly laughable. So 2007!”

Breitbart.com editor John Nolte, not one to go easy on the “mainstream media”, calls bullshit on Halperin’s assessment. “I’m on vacation – headed to Ryan Country for a week – my home state of Wisconsin, so I didn’t see Morning Joe (part of my vacation is from insufferable smug),” he wrote in an email. “While I’m glad Halperin was able to openly admit what I like to call The Glaringly Obvious — that the media is in the tank for Obama — I know a hustle when I hear one. Halperin is hoping that by telling us the media likes and respects Ryan and will therefore treat him with anything approaching objectivity, that the Romney-Ryan ticket and those of us in their camp will think that makes sense. Except…it’s a trap.”

Still, Bloomberg‘s Al Hunt sounded pretty chipper about the Ryan pick. “Well Joe, they say in politics that all politics is local,” he said on “Morning Joe.” “I think it’s true in journalism too. It makes it a better race. It makes it more fun to cover. Other than Chris Christie I can’t think of a more interesting choice.”

And neither can Reuter‘s political scribe Sam Youngman, who sees the pick as an illicit drug. “Yeah, this is gonna be fun. The pick just added layers of meaning and consequence to a race that was starting to feel like a horrible movie,” he said. “Ya know, like Ides of March. Now we’re standing at a train station, watching a train that’s going one of two ways – to the White House or off a cliff into a fireworks factory. Put another way, for political junkies, this is the kind of heroin that’s so good it might kill you.”

NBC’s Andrea Mitchell sounded less hooked, but nonetheless enthused. “I think it is the most exciting choice he could have made,” she said on “Morning Joe.”

And indeed, that comfort level with Ryan is there. “Paul Ryan is known to make himself generally available to reporters on Capitol Hill,” Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody said when asked for his reaction. “He doesn’t pretend to take cell phone calls when he spots journos waiting for him on his way to the House floor, so I think there is some optimism about having him on the campaign trail. (Of course, he’s never far from his iPod ear buds.)  That’s not to say journalists go easy on Paul Ryan, but the back-and-forth isn’t unsavory.”

But not all political journalists are so fired up about the Ryan choice. “Everyone loves Rob Portman,” said a longtime journalist on condition of anonymity. “He is a total leaking sieve. No one in D.C. really knows Pawlenty. Honestly, I don’t get the sense that anyone really cares about this pick. It’s neither exciting nor anti-climactic. It just sort of….sits there. Like, ‘Oh. Him. OK.’ I mean, now — Rick Perry. That would have been bold!”

Often what appeals to reporters most is the element of surprise. And for Real Clear Politics‘ political reporter Erin McPike, the Ryan pick has at least some of the elements Halperin spoke of this morning — the Press Corps’ ease with Ryan and the unexpected way the story broke. She’s hoping Ryan’s presence means media access will improve.

“It wasn’t what most reporters were expecting, so of course that makes it more exciting,” she told FishbowlDC. “Add to that how it broke – late on a Friday night, and you definitely get the press corps fired up. Paul Ryan is someone that the DC press corps has gotten to know well. We know what he listens to on his iPod when he’s walking through the Cannon tunnel, for one thing, because he talks to us. We know answers about the Ryan budget because he talks to us. And for a GOP campaign that has been inaccessible and has avoided answering specific policy questions, in some way it certainly changes the game.”

But Breitbart.com‘s Nolte is beyond skeptical.

“The media heckles and taunts Mitt Romney on sacred ground in Poland, the media reads Romney’s mind from 50 years ago so they can call him a prep school gay basher — the DAY AFTER Obama stops lying about his position on same-sex marriage,” he said. “So if Halperin thinks we’re going to in any way let our guard down now that our VP candidate is an attractive, unapologetic conservative threat to Their Precious One — I say nice try.”

Correction: The copy above initially had Hunt with WSJ. Clearly he’s Bloomberg.

 

 

Vagina Journalism

There are a lot of loose lips on the subject of vaginas lately.

Last week two female Michigan State congresswomen were barred from speaking on the House floor after angrily using the word “vagina” while debating an anti-abortion bill.

Daily Show host and comedian Jon Stewart mocked the House’s decision a few nights ago, saying, “What are they worried about? Vaginas aren’t like Voldemort or Beetlejuice. Invoking the name ‘vagina’ doesn’t make them suddenly appear.” He then highlighted in a “moment of zen” a clip of one CNN anchor saying sarcastically, “Fair warning: I’m about to say a word some of you are going to find offensive. So here’s the warning. Here we go: Vagina.”

MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed one of the congresswomen about an earlier protest that took place outside Michigan State Capitol, in which there was a live performance of the Vagina Monologues. During O’Donnell’s program, Metro Weekly‘s Chris Geidner tweeted, “If you don’t like vaginas, this is not your TV show.” – [O'Donnell], creating a false choice for me.”

Liberals also started the hashtag #sayvagina on Twitter. As with anything these days, particularly anything regarding vaginas, it was highjacked. “#Sayvagina but don’t say #8.2%JoblessRate,” wrote Breitbart.com Editor Dana Loesch.

Liberal radio show host Leslie Marshall tweeted, “#sayvagina I tell my toddlers to stop saying that in public! Grown women who are legislators? Go ahead!”

We asked a few journos around town what they thought about seeing so much vagina in the news lately and how they handle the subject in their own professional lives. HOH“s Neda Semnani told us it’s not weird at all. “That is what those crazy kids are calling that part of the body these days,” she told FBDC. “Other body parts with names that don’t make me feel awkward: penis, fallopian tube, uterus, urethra, testicle, balls, vulva, breast, boob, hair, nail, shin, pancreas, gland, cells, pinkie, big toe, follicle. Actually, scratch that… ‘Follicle’ sounds gross.”

A TV industry insider did some soul searching and remarked, “I hate the word ‘vagina.’ But not nearly as much as the dreaded P word. In everyday life I prefer to use C U Next Tuesday because it’s succinct and so offensive that it’s funny. In mixed company, I may opt for other humorous terms like ‘hatchet wound.’ But for TV, let’s all agree to stick with ‘vagina.’ That is, unless everyone can rally behind ‘pikachu’ or ‘tamagotchi.’”

A more serious Kevin Glass, managing editor of Townhall.com, said his publication has no official policy on the matter. “We don’t allow any words to be used in poor taste, but don’t censor our authors where it’s appropriate,” he said.

The Daily Caller‘s Taylor Bigler said she’s free when it comes to using the word. “‘Vagina’ is at the very bottom of the list of words that I’m squeamish about saying or using in copy,” she said. “It’s just a part of the body. I’m much more concerned about getting words like ‘douchebag’ and ‘Octomom porn’ past the editors.” Her boss, Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson, takes a far more conservative slant on the matter. “I approach that word as the ancient Israelites did YHWH: I have too much respect to use it lightly,” he said. On the subject of using the word on TV: “No.”

Host of XM Radio’s Press Pool Julie Mason told us she could say “vagina” loud and proud on the air if she wanted, but she tries playing it “mostly square.” She said, “My boss’s general rule is to imagine an eight-year old in the car listening to the show — don’t say things that might cause their parent to switch to [shock jock] Howard Stern as the sober alternative.”

Then there’s this from Bretibart NewsTony Lee, who by far had the most interesting personal policy on the matters. “I don’t use that term in person,” he said, “and given what I refer to it as would be too crude for print, I would write ‘female genitalia’ or ‘female genitals,’ which would be consistent with the the word choice in stories dealing with horrific ‘female genital’ mutilation.”

Author of the Mr. Media Training Blog Brad Phillips acknowledged how “absurd” it is “that if George Carlin were alive today, he’d need to expand his list of dirty words you can’t say on television to include ‘vagina.’” His personal advice on using “vagina” in media comes in the form of an introspective question: “Does it help them make their point, or does it serve as a distraction that prevents people from hearing their larger point?” He said the two state congresswomen used the word effectively, as “it drew national attention to an issue they were passionate about.”

Watch some vagina-talk clips after the jump…

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FishbowlDC Interview With Examiner‘s Kytja Weir

Say hello to Kytja Weir, a transportation reporter for the Washington Examiner. There’s an easy way to learn the correct pronunciation of her name. “It sounds like KEY-t-cha,” Weir told FBDC. “Or, an easy way to remember is to think of the word ‘keychain.’”

Weir, who has a masters in journalism from Columbia University, deserves a serious medal for her Metro coverage. In January 2011 she reported on Metro workers pooping and peeing inside the trains. A few months later she wrote about a health hazard caused by an excess of pigeon poop at Metro’s Four Mile Run bus garage in Arlington.

Weir moved to Washington D.C. and joined the Examiner in 2008 after a stint at The Boston Globe. Before that she worked for The Charlotte Observer for five years.

Despite never working a transportation beat before, she loves what she does at the Examiner, poop scoop and all. She previously covered education, crime and local government.

Let’s begin.

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be?

Store-brand root beer.

How often do you Google yourself?

All the time. It’s the easiest way to find my old stories for background context.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)

Let’s just say I have not always been as gracious as I should have been in accepting edits.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

My partner, Binyamin Appelbaum.

Do you have a favorite word?

Brouhaha.

You’re walking down a dark alley and you run into a group of people, all of whom you’ve insulted with your reporting. What do you do? What do you say? And do you activate your mace?

Gosh, there are more of you than I realized. Anything merit a correction?

Who would you rather have dinner with – Examiner’s Paul Bedard, Michaele and Tareq Salahi or Dan Stessel? Tell us why.

Tough call. Would Michaele’s new love — that Journey guy — be invited, too? Could be entertaining to see them all together. Bedard would likely bring delicious donuts. But I’ll go with Stessel because then he couldn’t avoid my questions.

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Journos Reveal When They Let Mom Down

In a twist on Mother’s Day today, we asked Washington journalists to think about a time or moment in their lives when they disappointed her. Just the asking part was fascinating in that it sometimes evoked complicated feelings. While many readily replied to the question, more than one declined for any number of reasons. A few said the question brought up touchy things they’d rather not discuss or have her see, while others dealt with the heavy reality that she’s no longer alive. We appreciate those who provided us answers, and to those of you who couldn’t or wouldn’t respond, we understand that too.

NBC Producer Andy Gross told us he’d rather not answer the question since his mother, Cornelia, passed away fairly recently and this is his first Mother’s Day without, as he put it, her “reassuring presence in my life.” In lieu of an answer, he sent this photograph of the two of them. He’s the one in the big black shoes.

SiriusXM’s Julie Mason: “I grew up in a seriously liberal family — Boston Irish Kennedy-huggers from way back. Effective modes of teenage rebellion were highly limited. I became a punk rocker, but that raised few eyebrows. Then one summer during college, I went to work for the RNC. It was like I had stabbed her in the heart! We both got over it, eventually.”

Mike Elk, In These Times Magazine: “My mother used to fart a lot when I was a kid and then blame it on me in public. Occasionally, I would be like no mom you farted, I dont know if that she was disappointed I wouldn’t take the fall for the fart, but she was certainly embarrassed.”

Politico‘s Dave Catanese: Probably when I was a young teenager and a few friends and I got nabbed by local po-po swiping political signs.  And nooooo, it wasn’t a partisan thing.  Just dumb kids seeing what we could get away with it in the dark of night.  Mom wasn’t pleased, but neither was Dad.

WaPo‘s Erik Wemple: “I am sure that I disappointed my mother on many fronts. Thing is, I don’t really know what those things were, because she never betrayed disappointment. She was everything to me, and then she dropped dead in a supermarket in Schenectady, N.Y., 12 years ago. So I’ll add this question to the many that I never got to ask her.”

NJ‘s Jim O’Sullivan: “My mother is a tough lady. You’d have to be, to endure the perpetual state of disappointment in which I’m certain she exists. She’s too kind to ever show this, of course, but I’d imagine on any number of levels – sartorial, behavioral, professional – the disappointment is almost total.”

The Daily Caller‘s Brian Danza: “I wouldn’t want to disappoint her more by saying something stupid in the media. My mom lives in Italy, so it’s not mother’s day over there. I am off the hook this time.”

Publicist and Hollywood on the Potomac blogger Janet Donovan: “In general, my mother was very supportive and non judgmental so it is hard to say just what disappointed her, but if I had to guess it would be when she and my father would take my children in the summer so I could ‘get my act together’.  Instead, I went tooling around in the Greek Islands and pretended to be calling from a ‘bad connection’ when I checked in with them.  They never said anything, but being a mother myself, I know she knew, so assume she was disappointed.”

TWT‘s Anneke Green: “So I called my mom on this one. She denied every disappointment I accused her of ever feeling, including that I wouldn’t cut off my hair. Apparently I am a model child. Or it’s right before Mothers Day and she doesn’t want to jeopardize her gift situation. Gotta go, jumping on a plane to surprise her this weekend!

TPM‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro: “I have never disappointed her. Every mother dreams her 30 year-old son will spend his days driving across the frozen Iowa tundra in the hopes of yelling questions at a former Pennsylvania Senator in a pizza buffet restaurant.”

Publicist Dannia Hakki: “I have the lucky privilege of having a mother for a client. My mother is the COO of my father’s plastic surgery/med spa practice, Luxxery Medical Boutique. I am the boutique’s publicist. My mother loves to bother me about pitches, press releases and other public relation’s services that are included in her monthly retainer. She sends me daily emails with updates, questions, and concerns to make sure my father is being pitched properly. Take, Plastic Surgery Practice Magazine, for example. Email from my mother attached – in which she yells at me her assistant Maha about our pitching efforts.” An excerpt from her mother’s email: “This is going to become poop on Maha day because Maha doesn’t know poop about what I am talking about, and besides: AINT GOT TIME FOR THIS. Dannia, if you are in your office, please look in the pile of junk this is on your left hand side at your desk and you will find the PSP issue, at which point we can talk.”

Behind the Scenes With the Bawdy Julie Mason

When we heard that Julie Mason was leaving her post as White House Reporter for Politico to begin a radio show on SiriusXM’s P.O.T.U.S. channel, we were intrigued. While many reporters love to hear themselves talk, not everyone can hold an audience for three full hours. Not only is she hosting her own radio show, she’s also keeping extra busy this time of year as Secretary for the White House Correspondents’ Association. Mason is known for her bawdy personality and sharp wit, so our preconceived notion was that radio could fit her like a glove.

We caught up with her last week to see just how natural a transition it has been to go from print to radio. Upon entering the impressive SiriusXM complex in the NoMa neighborhood, we were greeted by Patrick Ferrise, Mason’s producer. Immediately we can see the perks of working here. It’s constantly stocked with snacks, drinks and goodies for visiting guests. Ferrise sips a can of seltzer and says he never really drank soda until he started working there.

As we enter the nerve center of the P.O.T.U.S. studios, Mason is deep into prep for her show, “The Press Pool.” In the next room, Tim Farley, the Program Director of the POTUS channel is wrapping up his own show, “The Morning Briefing.” While she continues to prepare, Julie says that she is enjoying the adjustment to radio. However, there was a learning curve. Her bosses told her that she was going to need to learn how to run a soundboard, which is something many talk radio hosts don’t even do anymore. When we’re talking about the soundboard, think of the control center of the Starship Enterprise. A large console of glowing lights and buttons that, for most people, might as well be part of a space shuttle. Mason says, “My employers have been so patient with me as I learn my way around the board (Limbaugh doesn’t run his own board!) and all about radio.”

As Farley wrapped up his show, Mason assumed her position behind the console and kicked off the show. She started by talking to Stephen Dinan, National Politics Correspondent for TWT about the now-dead Buffett rule. And then things started to shake up a bit. POTUS (The President, not the radio station) began talking about increasing oversight on manipulation in the oil market. This is what makes P.O.T.U.S. different from almost any other radio station. They carry it live, uninterrupted. They also carry Jay Carney’s press briefing uninterrupted each day. It’s a task that has given Mason many headaches considering Carney is rarely on time. We asked if this was a constant source of frustration. “Killing that time before the briefing is a radio skill I am learning, along with making a smooth transition when he finally comes to the podium,” she says. “It’s not frustrating, it’s challenging! Which I am sure is Jay’s intention. We are the only news organization that still runs every briefing, which I do think is pretty cool, for all my grumping about it on the air.” After POTUS wraps up, Mason checks in with their in-house Washington Correspondent, Jared Rizzi. It’s time for the briefing.

While the briefing is carried live, Mason gets to step away to decompress. The night before, Bill O’Reilly had called Mason a “loon” because she suggested that he and Glenn Beck may have damaged the Fox News brand. Tim Farley enters to make sure that Mason has seen an email he sent to her suggesting a new logo for her show: A picture of a loon. Mason takes the ribbing in good stride and says she realizes things are different now that she’s in radio. If someone had called her a partisan loon while she was still working in print, she might have gotten in trouble. Now that she’s in radio, her bosses could not have been happier.

The whole time that Mason and I are chatting… Read more

It’s Helen’s Party and She Can Go If She Wants To

HuffPost‘s media writer Michael Calderone wrote a story Tuesday on White House veteran reporter Helen Thomas being turned down for a full table at the upcoming White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner.

In his first version, Calderone reported that the Association turned down Thomas’ request for a full table. Soon, however, there was a “clarification.” Thomas had always known that as a past president of WHCA she would be able to purchase two tickets for the dinner. But she was greedy. With her impressive resume (which includes a spread in Playboy) she wanted the whole goddamn table. That two ticket offer still stands, Calderone wrote in a parenthesis he added to a later version with a “clarification.”

Is it news to say a former journalist can’t buy a whole table for an event that’s always overcrowded and inevitably has news organizations whining about not having enough seats? It isn’t against Association rules for any one person to buy a table. It just isn’t typically done. “Given how tight the room is (I think we have refunded more than one thousand seat requests this year) I can’t imagine any single person getting a whole table, but I don’t think there is any rule against it,” said SiriusXM’s Julie Mason, who sits on the board. “Usually an unaffiliated member — like a freelancer, or single-member bureau — gets a couple of tickets.”

While the insider letters exchanged between Thomas and the Association are interesting along with the history that she paved the way for female reporters to attend the dinner, the lede was inflated. Helen doesn’t get a table? No one person would likely ever get a table. Not even HuffPost‘s own Arianna Huffington can get all the tables she wants, no matter how much she complains.

What many Washington insiders feel is this: The evening is WHCA’s annual fundraiser, not a celebration of Helen. She is feted, celebrated, awarded and paid tribute at a level that could make a person vomit. Maybe HuffPost would like to give up one of their tables? We can hear Arianna screaming now.

Commenters on the story are sublime. For her: “She deserves a table…this is sickening.” And, “She did journalism and women a favor with her determination, talent and courage. The profession owes her.” And, “Let her have her last harrah [sic] she has earned it!!!!!!!!!!!” Or, “It’s beyond petty of the WHCA to do this to Helen Thomas, they should be ashamed of themselves.” Or, “She earned her place at that table. One comment and she gets fried.” Against her: “I know she is old but we can’t always expect more than what is fair because of it.” And, “Sense of entitlement runs deep in these former elite talking heads.” And, “It’s her choice to go and have a good time or sulk because she’s ONLY being accomodated like former Presidents.” Many questioned why it was a news story in the first place. “I wonder if I write a letter to President Obama for a personal audience and get I turned down, to whom should I submit this for a news story?”

Ultimately, the news is this: Helen can purchase two tickets. It’s her party and she can go if she wants to.

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