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Posts Tagged ‘Seth Lipsky’

FishbowlDC Interview with Politico’s Ben Smith

Say hello to Politico‘s newly relaunched blogger Ben Smith. Raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan by a lawyer (now judge) for a father and a writer/learning specialist mother, Smith says he’s not sure what specifically drew him to journalism other than a stint at the Jewish Forward. While there he covered a drama-filled state senate race and uncovered news of a candidate taking contributions from a Saudi prince through a shell corporation. That candidate is now New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. “I’m basically kind of shy,” Smith said in a phone interview. “I think it’s true of a lot of reporters that it’s an excuse to go out and ask questions you’re interested in.” This week his blog got a makeover as he officially added media to his beat. He says he has always viewed media as part of the political beat. “It seemed like a logical effort,” he said. “I picked it up at the New York Observer that they were part of the same fabric.” Asked if he’s recognized on the street at this point,” he says “never.” Asked what he thinks it means to be successful and he sounds tough on himself. “I tend to be pretty neurotic and basically think I’m as successful as my last story,” he said. “Professional hazard.” Does Smith speak any foreign languages? “I speak a bunch of foreign languages really badly,” he said. “I studied French and I speak some Czech, Russian, Latvian and Spanish. I can read a newspaper in most of those but not conduct an interview at this point.” Does he prefer climbing a mountain or taking a long walk on a beach? “I’m more a mountain person,” he said, remaining calm as I see how many goofy questions it will take to get him riled. By the way, Ben, we’re shipping a few crates of tangerines to your house for your 2-year-old. Enjoy!

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? I guess Coca Cola, but I don’t really drink carbonated beverages.

How often do you Google yourself? Once every few months; I have to admit it’s kind of satisfying to have clawed my way to the top of the “Ben Smith” Google rankings, which wasn’t easy. I’m competing with a musician and a handful of athletes with that name, but benefit from the fact that football, hockey, and soccer careers seem to be shorter than journalists’.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? The best worst thing an editor every said to me was in my first political reporting job, as City Hall guy for the New York Sun. In the third of fourth story after an expose, I’d gone easy on the target. The editor in chief, Seth Lipsky, said with total disgust, “You’ve got an instinct for the capillaries.”

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? I’m not sure I’m allowed, or required, to go with colleagues, but Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Martin are two of the best political reporters I’ve ever encountered. They both have savant-ish, gut understanding of how politics works, and the kind of honesty that compels sources and readers.

Do you have a favorite word? No.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Politico’s Jim VandeHei, Politico’s John Harris or Robert Allbritton? Tell us why. And no, they may not all attend. I’ll go with Harris. He’s the one that brung me.

Does Ben Smith have a middle name? What is it? Eli

You are ordered to go on a road trip to an undisclosed location. You can go with White House Spokesman Jay Carney or Bo, the President’s Portuguese Water Dog. No ones feelings will be hurt. Who do you take? I don’t know Carney well, but we’ve always gotten along. We both have red-headed sons named Hugo.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? I usually have it on vibrate.

How do you balance your job with being a family man? I operate under the belief, or fantasy, that my core readers arrive at work at nine and clock out at five, and I try to get most of my reporting into their reading time. I also have some office space about 10 minutes walk from my house, where I work when I can.

It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry or iPhone? No.

What word do you routinely misspell? Judgment. Really.

Find out what scares Ben Smith after the jump…And no, it’s not Jim VandeHei.

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The FishbowlDC Interview With TWT’s Eli Lake

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LAKE_ELI_004.jpg Say hello to TWT‘s National Security reporter Eli Lake. He’s also a contributing editor to TNR. When I asked him where he grew up, he writes, “I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in the neighborhood of Germantown, where – as far as I know – there are no Germans.” Other Lake claims to fame: He has visited all three charter members of the Axis of Evil – Iraq, Iran and North Korea. He lived in Cairo between 2005 and 2006 where he served as the New York Sun‘s Middle East Bureau Chief. On a lighter note, he loves to Google himself.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Champagne. Obviously.

How often do you Google yourself? I get a daily alert. No, actually, I google myself constantly. It’s my home screen. I see my Google results when I close my eyes.

What’s the worst thing youÂ’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa) When I was just starting out, Paul Singer used to say, “O.K. finish up, and in English this time.”

Who is your favorite working journalist? Christopher Hitchens

Do you have a favorite word? Framework-Agreement.

Who would you rather have dinner with – First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? There are a lot of unanswered questions about both women.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? Alcove 1

When did you last cry and why? I was raised by leftists in Germantown, Philadelphia. So I listened to a double album growing up called, “Free to be You and Me,” which contained songs and skits on women’s lib and various forms of tolerance. One song on the album was titled, “It’s Alright to Cry.” Well, I went to John B. Kelly elementary school, which is a public school, and let me tell you, that song is a lie. It’s not alright cry.

What word do you routinely misspell? Journolist.

What swear word do you use most often? Birth Certificate.

What word or phrase do you overuse? “You know what old man, you will never understand our music.”

What TV show do you have to watch? Anything on Press TV.

Where do you shop most often for your clothes? I like to get the Maxx for the minimum.

How Lake makes cancer funny is a mystifying, but he does. Also: find out the best journalism advice we’ve heard in a long time after the jump…

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