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Posts Tagged ‘Matt Labash’

Tricks of the Trade With Matt Labash

We’ve been waiting weeks now to pick the brain of The Weekly Standard/The Daily Caller‘s Matt Labash for our Tricks of the Trade interview. Credentials: His qualifications for answering these questions? They are many. But he wrote Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys. In his advice column, Labash, an avid fly fisherman, has addressed everything from mail order brides, served as a wedding planner and unabashedly la-bashed Oprah and her best friend Gayle for fly fishing in Yosemite. “Good God in heaven, is nothing sacred?” he asked. “I saw the same picture on Field & Stream’s Fly Talk blog. And not since they made us watch a slide show of partial-birth abortions at my Operation Rescue Father’s Day picnic have I been so disturbed by an image.”

1. Favorite Interview Technique I generally lead off with “Why do you hate the Jews?”  Most of the time they don’t hate the Jews (though once, when I asked it, a country singer’s wife surprised me by saying: “Do you want just one reason?”) But most find the question so disturbing that they’ll often gratefully answer whatever I ask next.  Which is why my follow-up question is usually, “What are you running from?”

2. Most Compelling Question You’ve Ever Asked The Jews question isn’t good enough for you? Pass.  At the risk of sounding like a tool, my job isn’t to ask compelling questions that stand on their own as beautifully-constructed gems. Maybe if you work in TV, you have to be more aware of that. My job is to elicit compelling answers.  Which oftentimes result from the most carelessly formed questions.  Mainly, I just try to make people relax and trust me.  So that when they start opening a vein, they don’t even notice they’re doing so.

3. Best Self-Editing Approach Self-editing? What’s that? That’s what we have editors for.  My aim is to get away with whatever I can.  If they want to stop me, that’s their business. Actually, I read everything I write, right down to grocery lists, many, many times before turning something in. Oftentimes, I’ll do so aloud. It helps you hear the dead spots in your sentences.

4. What to do When an Interview is Tanking Order drinks.  And plenty of them.  This isn’t to condone drinking, though I do.  But drinking isn’t just for quieting the voices and making the hurt stop.  If properly employed, it can be a useful tool in the journalism toolkit. When people drink, they relax. When they relax, they talk freely. When they talk freely, you get better material, write better stories, get promoted, and win prestigious awards.  Bourbon is your friend.  So is the tape recorder, in case you have too much of it.

5. Approaching Lawmakers and other “Important People” Be interested and ever curious, but don’t suck up to them. They’re used to being sucked up to.  Most people in their world are sycophants.  If they come to view you as a peer, or at least not as a sycophant, you’ll get better stuff.  At the same time, don’t come off like Truth’s Avenger.  If you want to be Robert Redford as Bob Woodward in the movie in your head, that’s up to you. But don’t punish your subjects with your delusions.  No matter the shell you’re trying to crack, at heart, these are just flesh-and-blood human beings. So even though you’re a journalist, pretend to be one, too.

6. Most Surprising Thing to Happen During an Interview…

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Afternoon Reading List 02.10.11

*Faux Twitter Fever: The NYT‘s Ashley Parker gives us a healthy dose of Fake Twitter today. And she’s right on target. Talk of accounts such as @DCJourno and @FakeJimVandeHei are being discussed at length on the cocktail journo circuit. The real Politico Exec Editor Jim VandeHei suggests to Parker that the faker could be Editor-in-Chief John Harris, who might finally have an outlet for all that angst about him. It appears VandeHei was joking. Wonder what @FakeJimVandeHei thinks about all this? Mr. Faker declined an interview with FishbowlDC. Read here.

*Need cheering up? This dark advice column from The Daily Caller/The Weekly Standard‘s Matt Labash this week should do the trick. In it, a reader asks how to dispose of a human torso — of course, because what else would a reader ask? “Choking down a gall bladder does require a greater degree of dedication,” Labash says in his response. Read here.

*WaPo‘s Paul Farhi has the latest on the “fledging” TBD, the red headed step child of Politico. They are taking TBD TV back to its old name, NewsChannel 8. In short, remains, but WJLA will once again get its own website. Erik Wemple will stay in his role as Editor of But oddly, he was cagey on the figures. Writes Farhi, “Wemple said TBD’s visitor traffic in January was the highest in its existence, but he declined to provide figures.” Read here.

Afternoon Reading List 01.19.10

  • The Getaway – Poshbrood founder, publicist and writer Elizabeth Thorp brings us a travel story for HuffPost with the headline, “How to Vacation Like a Celebrity Without a Black Amex.” In it, we learn how to “roll” like Brangalina and Lindsay Lohan minus all that, you know, money. We can also vacation like those we “respect” — Heidi, Seal and Gwyneth. Some options are affordable, such as hot springs in southern Pennsylvania or a hotel in greater Cancun. Read here.
  • VF‘s Maureen Orth offers a personal tribute to the late Sargent Shriver who died yesterday. Orth, a former Peace Corps volunteer, writes, “I was recruited into the Peace Corps at age 20, right off the Berkeley campus, by a loud southern guy with a bullhorn—he was to become the NBC reporter Douglas Kiker (years later we met as colleagues). Sarge had the ability to bring together all sorts of talented and sometimes offbeat people, and to convince them to try something they weren’t really planning to do.” Read here.
  • The Daily Caller/Weekly Standard‘s Matt Labash writes his weekly advice column. This week he advises a reader who is planning her wedding. Is Labash a budding wedding planner? She asks if she should she use the local church and homemade food. (No, he says not so gently. “Unless you want Aunt Phoebe showing up with her three-bean casserole.”)

Labash Advises Reader to Never Read his Column Again

The Daily Caller‘s advice columnist Matt Labash gets scrappy today. He orders a reader named “Barb” who trashes Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson to never read his column again.

It’s not so much another defense of Tucker (as he offered last week) as much as it’s an obvious dislike for Barb. “Why would anyone care about what happens to pit bulls?!?” Barb asks and proceeds to describe the dogs as “beady-eyed beasts.” As an afterthought she adds,  “Tucker Carlson should be fired. The man is a whack job.”

An excerpt: Don’t take this the wrong way, Barb. Because I generally don’t discriminate against readers. Red and yellow,  black and white, they are all precious in His sight. And God knows I have my share of nutloafs in the audience (you know who you are, Mom). But I have to draw the line somewhere. So it might as well be with animal-cruelty-loving, budding- psychopath-serial-killers like you.

Consequently, I forbid you from reading this column in the future.

In a second question from “Nancy Pelosi”, Labash reluctantly ponders House Speaker John Boehner‘s tan. Labash says stop talking about the lawmaker’s “apricot” skin already and start seeing his tears for what they are: the act of a “pimpled tween.”

Morning Reading List 12.07.10

*More details emerge on Sen. Debbie Stabenow‘s (D-Mich.) divorce in a post by Politico‘s Dave Catanese on his new political blog as acquired from Detroit Free Press which gathered the docs. The news reveals that Stabenow’s hubby payed $150 for a prostitute. Just embarrassing: the prostitute denied the charge.

*The Daily Caller‘s Advice Columnist Matt Labash addresses one of the most vital matters of the day — mail order brides. In a question from a reader, he discusses his “Worn Panties Shrine” (he keeps this strictly for sniffing — he’s no pervert.) He also has choice words for MSNBC’s Ed Schultz, who Labash insinuates is a “crazy person who talks to himself.” Read it all here.

* In a chat on, Slate‘s Emily Yoffe, who writes the “Dear Prudence” advice column, tackles a granddaughter who couldn’t make her grandmother’s funeral because she had to take the LSAT’s. The granddaughter’s mother is, well, pissed. Prudence says it’ll be fine: “Eventually, she will get over this.” And she means Mother not Grandma.

The Weekly Standard Kicks Dissing Sarah P. Up a Notch

The Weekly Standard, often credited with launching the stardom of Sarah Palin’s, did something unthinkable in right wing world over the weekend:  They took a whack at the former V.P. hopeful, Alaskan Gov. and now TLC reality TV star in their pages. Not that we haven’t seen major hints of the GOP tiring of her with Fox News Contributor Karl Rove’s recent dismissals of her, but the story by Matt Labash loudly and clearly knocks her in ways the magazine rarely has. Even the headline mocks: “R U Lovin’ Sarah’s Alaska?’

The story ridicules Palin for everything from her unsophisticated tweets to her “flippin’” way of talking to dragging the fam onto a “tacky reality show.” Will The Weekly Standard now be part of the “lamestream media,” as Palin puts it?

An excerpt:

Gravitas, it’s safe to say, is the enemy of freedom. And freedom is about motion—being in it, staying in it. On the show, this involves seein’, and doin’, and experiencin’ things that don’t require a “g” on the end of them, such as shootin’, and rock climbin’, and snow machinin’, and clubbin’ halibut over the head (“let me see the club, you look crazy,” says Bristol to her mom when they do the deed on a commercial fishing boat) and media-critiquin’ and BlackBerryin’, which Palin gets caught doing even in the midst of wilderness adventures.

Described in detail are other reality shows airing alongside “Sarah Palin’s Alaska” such as “Ton of Love” and “The Man With Half a Body.” Read after the jump…

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Daily Caller Advice Guru Gives Oprah a Beat Down

What disturbs The Daily Caller‘s resident bold and sometimes dirty advice columnist Matt Labash? Today that’d be a photograph of Oprah and her best friend, Gayle, fly fishing on the Merced River in Yosemite National Park.

So much for him landing on her couch in the show’s final season.

Labash, who also writes for The Weekly Standard, writes, “Good God in Heaven, is nothing sacred? I saw the same picture on Field & Stream’s Fly Talk blog. And not since they made us watch a slide show of partial-birth abortions at my Operation Rescue Father’s Day picnic have I been so disturbed by an image.”

Why so disturbed? He says it’s not because he doesn’t want to see Oprah enjoy herself on the water. Read more and see the allegedly damaging picture here. (Above is Oprah in her fly fishing outfit. It’s not the picture that has Labash broiling.)

Good Morning FishbowlDC Readers


ABC’s Klein has touch of midterm madness

“Midterm delusions. Could swear I just saw Alvin Greene on the metro. Thought I saw Lee Fisher this morning.” — ABC’s Rick Klein on Wednesday on Twitter. Then adds, “And now a legit crazy person ranting about who knows what on metro. Not a candidate for office, to my knowledge.”

What does she really think?

“We have a lot of female candidates this year and most of them are terrifying.” — Comedian Chelsea Handler on E!’s “Chelsea Lately” Wednesday night.

A reporter’s wish

“Wish @mikeallen would pen a “Story Behind the Story” about The Day Politico Went Without Email.” — Politico‘s Patrick Gavin in a Wednesday tweet. E-mail was down at Politico all afternoon.

Weigel gets a little help from Joan Baez

“Joan Baez’s ability to make every song flat and sleep-inducing is quite extraordinary.” — Slate‘s Dave Weigel in a Wednesday tweet.

McCain deeply offended by Labash

“I found Matt Labash‘s statement to be one of the MOST SEXIST things I have ever read. But I do hope you’ll do a DC stop.” — The Daily Beast and Dirty, Sexy, Politics author Meghan McCain in a Wednesday tweet. Matt Labash is a writer for The Weekly Standard and an advice columnist for The Daily Caller. What did Labash say to Politico that set her off? Read here.

Dinner with Helen at Mama Ayesha’s

“Wonderful dinner tonight w/my old boss Helen Thomas. Great group of former & current White House reporters here tonight at Mama Ayesha’s.” — New York Daily News White House Correspondent Ken Bazinet in a Wednesday night tweet.


“I have a serious political story to write on deadline, but distracted by the sad breakup of Gossip Girl’s Blake Lively and Penn Badgley.”– Human Events senior editor Emily Miller on Wednesday on Twitter.

Meghan McCain’s D.C. Snub Gets Dirty, Sexy and Political

Slate‘s Dave Weigel wouldn’t attend a Meghan McCain book party. He says he’s not on the D.C. cocktail circuit (although, funny, we’ve seen him there a few times. But we’ll presume he means high society cocktails). He says reporters/pundits who are concerned with news are not concerned with The Daily Beast‘s McCain or her book, Dirty, Sexy Politics.

Politico publishes a piece by Patrick Gavin this afternoon (complete with Weigel’s remarks) assessing why McCain hasn’t endeared herself to D.C. media and why McCain, with all the grace of a rhinoceros, skipped D.C. on her cross-country book tour. In the story, a McCain spokeswoman insists the young author stuck to national outlets because few members of the D.C. media expressed interest in interviewing McCain.

But lack of interest amongst D.C. media isn’t necessarily true. Washington Examiner‘s Nikki Schwab, who’s still bristling after McCain blocked her on Twitter, says, “Yep, I’d go!” This, even after sniffing over Twitter this afternoon, “I’m still blocked.” It’s unclear whether or not The Weekly Standard/Daily Caller‘s Matt Labash would attend. But he does appreciate the budding author’s cleavage-bearing Twitter pictures (clearly she hasn’t yet blocked him. But more importantly, she hasn’t had a chance to. Labash, the unabashed Twitter hater isn’t officially on Twitter). Even the author, Gavin, said he’d go. “Sure!” he replied when asked if he’d attend, even as his story makes the case for why McCain might rightly avoid D.C.

Read the story here.

Labash Work Among Best American Essays

The Weekly Standard/Daily Caller‘s Matt Labash has a story that will be among this year’s Best American Essays. His story is ‘A Rake’s Progress’ published in The Weekly Standard in September 2009.

The piece is a profile on former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry. The subhead: “Marion Barry bares (almost) all.”

An excerpt:

“Mr. Barry wants to start early,” Natalie informs. “He wants you to come to church with him tomorrow.” “Great,” I say. “What time does church start?”"Eleven A.M.,” she says. “Okay. And what time should I meet him before church?” I ask.”Eleven-thirty,” she responds with complete seriousness.

Labash joins the ranks of other authors whose stories made the list: David Sedaris and Ian McEwan (to name a few).

See the full list here.