Posts Tagged ‘Neda Semnani’
Asked to describe the idea behind “BuzzFeed Brews,” John Stanton says, “It’s like a first date. Get them a little drunk and relaxed so they can talk about things people don’t normally hear them talk about.”
Stanton is the Washington Bureau Chief for BuzzFeed and last night was the launch of the website’s new series wherein newsmakers are invited to sit before an audience and answer questions. And there’s free beer.
It’s essentially the same thing as Politico‘s Playbook Breakfast, “minus the stale bagels, plus the beer,” cracked BuzzFeed‘s Politics Editor McKay Coppins to FishbowlDC. (The site’s publicist Ashley McCollum boasts that she came up with that description.)
The first guest: Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.). For roughly 45 minutes Rubio answered questions from BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith about immigration, gay marriage and the future of the Republican Party. Of course, lengthy segments here and there were spent on why Rubio prefers Tupac over Biggie Smalls (“His lyrics are more insightful in my opinion.”) and whether he had to “think long and hard” before letting his son play recreational football. Stanton said that’s another thing distinguishing the Brews series from Playbook Breakfast, whose audience may not be interested in those things. Read more
Actress and pretend Senate hopeful Ashley Judd held court in Atlantic Publisher David Bradley‘s gorgeous kitchen last night at his pre-inaugural bash. The party, dubbed “Downton Bradley” for its hoity-toity guest list, was a who’s who of Washington D.C. where the living room was filled with everyone from TIME‘s Joe Klein, CBS Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett and CBS’s Norah O’Donnell to former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan with wife, NBC Chief Foreign Correspondent Andrea Mitchell, White House correspondent for ABC News Radio Ann Compton, WaPo and MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart, Debbie Dingle, wife of Rep. John Dingle (D-Mich.), whose surname persistently comes out “Dungle” on the iPhone, CBS Washington Bureau Chief Chris Isham, Atlantic Publisher Justin Smith, Hungarian Amb. Greg Szapry, Comcast Executive V.P. David Cohen, and AOL Co-founder Steve Case.
The dining room, meanwhile, had its own plateful of D.C. V.I.P.’s — former White House Press Sec. Joe Lockhart, former PBS’ Jim Lehrer (yawn), CNN and Newsweek/The Daily Beast‘s Howard Kurtz, BuzzFeed Bureau Chief John Stanton and reporter Rosie Gray, Roll Call HOH’s Neda Semnani and Warren Rojas, National Journal Publisher Bruce Gottlieb, NJ‘s new spokesman, Ben Fishel (former flack to ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Penistown), Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.), Media Matters), reporter Chris Frates and Atlantic Spokeswoman Natalie Raabe, NJ National Correspondent Ron Fournier, NJ‘s Ron Brownstein and Washingtonian‘s Carol Joynt, who described her recent quick bout with the flu despite having a flu shot. Also in the dining room: Lobbyist Heather Podesta.
In the foyer was a male guest with a neck beard (see pictures after the jump), Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.), lobbyist Jack Quinn and wife, Susanna, Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and outgoing Sec. of State Hilary Clinton‘s former Chief of Staff Melanne Verveer.
It was the kitchen, however, that was the apparent nerve center of Bradley’s house. With beautiful creamy couches and a blazing fireplace, and the surprisingly down-to-earth Bradley in the corner chatting up guests, it was there where we spied on Judd mingling with D.C. insiders such as HuffPost‘s Howard Fineman, who wore a bright pink tie and signature mane of longish silver locks, Bloomberg View‘s Margaret Carlson. Judd was accompanied by an unidentified partially balding man. Also roaming the kitchen was Fineman’s sister, Elizabeth Schroeter, in from Colorado. Asked about her brother, Schroeter said he was a “really good guy.” Judd, with a red flower in her hair, struck various poses throughout the night. Most noteworthy, however, was her stick straight posture, even when sitting, and her ability to stick her chest out when engaged in casual conversation. Let’s just say she was well aware that flashbulbs were capturing her every move.
Out on the enclosed patio were more guests to gawk at and grill.
(Pictured above left: Atlantic Publisher David Bradley)
Quotes of the Day
FNC’s Bret Baier sets record straight
“Wrong – it was on screen – thnx” — Bret Baier to a follower who accused him of not citing ABC’s Jimmy Kimmel: “Bret Baier runs the mouse/hawk vid w no Jimmy Kimmel credit. That’s a special report.”
“National Weather Service reports that at 12:36 today in Washington D.C. no one was outraged. The moment quickly passed.” — CBS Political Director and Slate‘s John Dickerson. Beats us what he’s talking about, but it’s gotta be deep.
Journo on cold meds…
“Lance Armstrong” starts to sound weird when you hear it hundreds of times. Lance lance bo bance. Banana fana fo fance. Lance. #coldmeds” — Laurie White, blogger.
We can hardly wait…“If you tuned into Greta on Fox News then you’ve heard! Congressman Allen West and I will be hosting a new online show launching in Feb!” — Ex-Daily Caller videographer (?) Michelle Fields. PJ Media is behind this, um, adventure. Who says you can’t go on to greatness after leaving Congress? West, whose title is Director of Next Generation Programming, and Fields will be joined by John Phillips (if you have no earthly idea who he is, he hosts “The John Phillips Show” on 790 KABC). Topics Next Generation will explore: education, economics, job searches, and safety and security. Read more here. See the unintentionally funny bios here that announce that each host joined NextGeneration.TV in January 2013.
The Media Critic
Dr. Weigel makes flu recommendations
“Pro tip: If it’s flu season and you’re coughing every 30 seconds, maybe don’t come to work that day.” — Slate‘s Dave Weigel.
Reporter takes off shirt and what?
“No doubt that one of the funniest sights is me trying to take off a compression shirt after a workout/run.” — FBDC and The Blaze‘s Eddie Scarry.
“Man the fog in DC this winter is just intense.” — InTheseTimes Labor journo Mike Elk.
Real BuzzFeed headline: “Florida teen arrested for giving people wedgies”
Boybander’s dirty mind goes right to strippers and cocaine
“Seems like the G fund should be used on strippers and cocaine, not lame financing of government operations.” – Slate economics reporter and third-tier Boybander Matt Yglesias.
CQ Roll Call‘s Rebecca Gale celebrated the official launch of her new novel Trying at The Science Club last night. Though the venue was a bit
cozy and broiling (i.e. perfect for a hot yoga class), plenty of Gale’s newsroom colleagues and friends showed up to offer support.
Asked if there was one journalist Gale would want to read her book, she named co-worker Neda Semnani. “She gives great book reviews,” Gale said, adding that Semnani, who co-writes the Heard on the Hill gossip column, would offer an “honest assessment” of the book.
Gale also named her former boss Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) as someone who should read it. “He would love it,” she said. (That’s somewhat intriguing, considering the book is a love story involving government secrets. Hmm…)
There were plenty of finger foods and bevys at the soiree, much of which was unidentifiable at first glance. But the best part was the tiny cupcakes, decorated with little edible versions of Gale’s book.
It was a momentous occasion in Washington, D.C. The District’s first Costco opened. The location is in Fort Lincoln and it brought quite a draw for it’s first day: namely, VPOTUS Joe Biden. According to pool reports, Biden walked up, flashed his Costco card and strolled through the store enjoying samples and shopping for items like children’s books, fire logs, a TV and an apple pie. God bless America. One enterprising salesman at the store even tried to sell Biden some tires! According to the pool report, Biden said, “”Hey man I don’t need tires,” he said “I don’t drive anymore.”
Naturally, Twitter had a field day. Reuters‘ Sam Youngman was thoroughly impressed with the tire salesman. He tweeted, “I have finally decided on my vote for Time’s Man of the Year: The Costco employee who tried to upsell Biden some tires.”
Plenty of others weighed in…. Read more
Quotes of the Day
“I wouldn’t expect anything else from a Daily Caller party.” — partygoer at The Daily Caller‘s book party last night for Will Rahn and Jamie Weinstein for their new eBook, The Lizard King. They hired this woman above on behalf of Emperor Vodka. Naturally she showed up in a French maid outfit. As you can see, the publication’s infamous White House Correspondent Neil Munro wastes no time in chatting her up. More on the party later…
“The great thing about life is that sometimes after you take the steps, then the path appears.” — TLC’s “What Not to Wear” host Stacy London at 6th & I Synagogue last night to discuss her new book, The Truth About Style. More on her talk later…
“Big Bird: My bed time is usually 7:45, but I was really tired yesterday and fell asleep at 7! Did I miss anything last night?” — Sesame Street.
“‘I filed an extension on my taxes. But it only went till October, so…’ — cocktail chatter at Daily Caller book release shindig.” — Roll Call HOH’s Warren Rojas.
Reporter gets real about kimchi
“After 7 painful years, I am throwing in the towel on pretending to like kimchi. I’ll never be cool enough to eat fermented cabbage.” — HuffPost politics reporter Laura Bassett.
Another food admission…
“Breaking: gluten free, dairy free pizza is the most depressing thing I’ve done.” — Roll Call HOH’s Neda Semnani.
Morning observation at the White House
“Just arrived at the White House. Didn’t see any below-8% dancing on the front lawn.” — Politico‘s Reid Epstein.
Anonymous journo to FBDC: “I helped launch MSNBC and I remember they got rid of Ann Coulter. Which was a shame because she had great legs.”
Peter Ogburn contributed to this report.
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 Knox, Reuter‘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 Wendy Gordon, 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!
By Betsy Rothstein and Eddie Scarry
Buzzfeed‘s Washington Bureau officially popped its cork last night with a packed party at the U Street haunt Brixton, where a DJ spun vinyl records thanks to Bureau Chief John Stanton.
11. Trying to get anyone at the party, but especially Buzzfeed underlings, to trash talk Editor Ben Smith, in from Manhattan, wasn’t easy. Slate‘s most weigelicious reporter Dave Weigel (pictured at right with Michael Hastings), a longtime, intense Smith fan, remarked, “I think Ben is creating a good news organization in a tabloidy sort of way. They’ve captured what people like about the news. I’m a big fan of what they’re doing. I completely, seriously and unironically think it’s really good.” Weigel, in an unironic black golf shirt and jeans, looked in his element in the divey scene, sipping on a Hendrick’s martini. At one point he offered a rather complex tirade on the bar’s eclectic drink menu (we caught about half of it). At about 7:40 p.m. he said, “You know you’re in D.C. when some douche says, ‘You going to the convention?’” This came after he asked if we’d be attending the party conventions.
10. Buzzfeed‘s Michael Hastings proved to be quite the conversationalist. We anticipated having to hunt him down and wrestle him to the ground just to introduce ourselves. Not so. Despite a couple contentious emails he sent us back in June regarding a report on a Twitter fight, Hastings was a pleasure. “Sorry I was kind of a dick in those emails,” he told us. “But I knew you would publish them.”
9. Politico White House reporter Byron Tau and Zeke Miller got into a spontaneous argument for the sake of taking a more natural picture. (See at left.) We had no idea Tau could be so violent or that Miller would take it so well.
8. At 8:30 p.m. we ran into Roll Call HOH Columnists Neda Semnani and Warren Rojas. Warren on keeping his jobs amid the wealth of recent layoffs at CQ Roll Call: “They can’t get rid of us. We know where all the bodies are.” He called the layoffs a “slaughter” and added, “Tomorrow, we still have a job.” Shortly thereafter, Washington Examiner gossip gal Nikki Schwab offers an uncharacteristic warmish hello. And for that, we put away the ice thermometer. At least for today. Hey Nikki!
LOL! Meeting Ben Smith
7. Asked about working at Buzzfeed, Chris Geidner takes a moment to gush. “I love it. It’s totally fun and everyday there’s …. just then Smith walks up and tells us he has a kind speech prepared for when people tell him they hate me. Thanks Ben! LOL! Back to Geidner, who is describing what it’s like to work at Buzzfeed: “It’s being at a place where everyday there is something new and amazing happening. Everyone is so good at their job. Go look at the page,” he’s saying about a recent graphic that accompanied his story. “It is so fucking awesome.” BuzzFeed doesn’t have an actual office in D.C. yet and Geidner wasn’t about to tell us about plans to open one. “I’m definitely not telling you that,” he said. “It’s still TBD.” (Later on, Smith would tell us they’re searching for office space, but it won’t be a conspicuous one. When asked if it’d be located in Anacostia, where reporters might need a bulletproof vest, he said it wouldn’t matter: “No one’s going to mess with Stanton.”
6. Speaking of someone not to mess with, it’s BuzzFeed publicist Ashley McCollum‘s turn to come up with a bad thing about Ben. “I think Ben is as much an incredible editor as he is a great boss. Everyone’s ideas count. Anything bad about Ben Smith, you call me when you find it.”
Joining Smith were other buzzies well-acquainted among Washington media such as Stanton (pictured at right) Hastings, Miller, Andrew Kaczynsky, McKay Coppins, Chris Geidner, Rosie Gray and Dorsey Shaw, the video guy who, as was pointed out several times, could pass for Sting. McCollum was on the scene making sure Buzzfeed reporters mixed and mingled and didn’t make asses of themselves. In that sense, she was a success. She’ll return in a few weeks as C-SPAN gives Coppins a grilling. Speaking of which, we ran into C-SPAN Communications Director Howard Mortman outside the rust-colored bar at about 8 p.m. He made his cameo and gave the party high marks, but said it wasn’t exactly his scene as he headed home to his wife and kids.
LOL: ‘Bad’ things about Ben Smith (SWAK!)
All night long we continued to pester other Buzzfeed employees and party-goers to badmouth Smith. This was the disastrous outcome of that.
Politico‘s Dylan Byers: “He really doesn’t understand the Israel issue.” Buzzfeed‘s Dorsey: “He’s my dream boss. I can’t say anything. He lets me do whatever I want.” Kaczynski: “He’s a really good boss. He’s like kind of the perfect boss.” Stanton: “He doesn’t know what a Bama is to save his fucking life.” Rosie: “I think the worst thing about Ben is that he tries hard to be there for all of us always, and I’m envious of his ability to do that.” Zeke: “When I miss my deadlines he sends me the #19 koala,” he said, explaining that there is a series of disappointed animal pictures Ben sends in place of a formal complaint. Adds Coppins: “Animals are disappointed in you. It’s the perfect Buzzfeed way to reprimand a reporter.”
Party tentacles reached most outlets around town — HuffPost (Sam Stein, Sabrina (a.k.a. Sabrini) Siddiqui, Elise Foley, Jeff Young), USA TODAY (Jackie Kucinich), ABC News (Polson Kanneth), Politico (Glenn Thrush, Olivia Petersen, Byers, Tau), WaPo, The Hill, TPM (Evan McMorris-Santoro), RCP (Erin McPike), Roll Call (Shira Toeplitz, Sujata Mitra), Metro Weekly, and even The Daily Caller, which has notoriously had atrocious relations with Smith, was present, but not many scribes there received invites. Other conservative outlets represented at the party included the Washington Examiner (Philip Klein, Charlie Spiering, Nikki Schwab, Jenny Rogers) and Free Beacon (C.J. Ciaramella). Despite Breitbart.com‘s rabid insistence that Buzzfeed is an arm of the Obama Administration, both parties were repped. House Speaker John Boehner‘s Spokesman Michael Steel and ex-Maj. Leader Eric Cantor flak Brad Dayspring showed up as did Democratic Strategist and former Obama aide Bill Burton.
5. At approximately 8:30 p.m. Smith attempted a speech over the loud din. What we could hear: “It’s fun to see my friends from Politico here” and “I look forward to competing with them.”
4. Miller will be moving to D.C. but doesn’t have to relocate until after the election. He’s still looking for housing. Politico‘s Tau recommends his own hood, Columbia Heights. Tau says the resurrection of a Target and Best Buy has made the area a safe place to live.
LMAO: Awkward Encounters
3. Among the first people we saw was The Daily Caller‘s Michelle Fields (at left) in a tight bright red dress paired with, of course, the wood shop glasses. She approached mid-evening for introductions. All very civil. What wasn’t civil was our interaction with the Dweebmeister himself Ben Freed of DCist, who has trashed FBDC on countless occasions, which is perfectly acceptable, but don’t expect hugs. While we were chatting with The Atlantic Wire’s exceedingly polite John Hudson, he got right up in my left eye and wouldn’t leave. Finally, me: “WHAT DO YOU WANT?!” Needless to say, the rest of that didn’t go well and Hudson was a little horrified. And this: Jeff Kearns (reeking of Bourbon) of Bloomberg approaches NJ Publicist Taylor West and acts like they’ve known each other from childhood. It was a first meeting, which Kearns struggled to understand even after Taylor called him “Tim.” Tim. Jeff. Is there a difference?
OMG: Coppins wife is preggers; FAIL: Coppins and McCollum flopped on a high five
2. Making the rounds we chatted with Coppins and McCollum. We asked if “McKay Coppins” is, in fact, his real name. He assured us it is and admitted to being teased about it in grade school. “But now it’s great because it’s very SEO friendly,” he said. “Not that it matters now that things are moving from search to social,” he added. At this, McCollum threw her hand up to mimick the motion of cracking a whip. “Yeah! On message!” she said. Coppins mistook the motion as an invitation for a high five. Putting his hand up to meet McCollum’s he missed. All agreed it was perfect GIF material. More news on Coppins: He’s been invited to move to Washington from New York. He hasn’t made up his mind yet, largely because he’s considering his wife’s needs. He let slip that she’s three months pregnant. Congratulations!
Love is in the air?
1. We heard from one buzzy who preferred to remain anonymous that Dorsey, the Sting doppelganger, was hit on by a bartender. After the female bartender told Shaw who he resembled, he answered “I’ll take it.” The bartender replied, “I’ll take it, too.”
More pictures after the jump…
Quotes of the Day
Press Secretaries and other SPOX: You’ve been warned.
“Seriously people, this is comms 101. if i come to you asking to talk to you or your boss, ONE OF YOU is showing up in my story. Regardless.” — Buzzfeed Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton.
Headline irony alert: “What’s in a name? John Martini charged with DUI, hitting Ocean City officer with a car.” — ABC7. Read story here.
Blogger praises bank for catching ass
We hope you’re okay Neda!
“Today.. Today I received an email from January 1904, which leaves me with more questions about 1904 then I’ve ever had before.” — Roll Call HOH’s Neda Semnani, who has clearly been transported back in some sort of strange time capsule.
Journo laments obscenely costly beer
Sighting: Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner at the newly remodeled Starbucks in Dupont Circle chatting away on his cell phone. The party on the other line seemed to be unfamiliar with Buzzfeed as Geidner had to repeatedly state the name of the publication and spell it out. (For next time, we suggest these associations: B as in boy, u as in umbrella, z as in zesty, z as in zesty, f as in f%@k, e as in effervescent, e as in effervescent, d as in dingbat.)
Eddie Scarry contributed to this report.