Katie Couric‘s life in TV news included stops at WRC in Washington and as a Pentagon correspondent for NBC News. Her current transition from daytime talk show host to global news anchor for Yahoo News, is just another turning point for the journalist best known as co-anchor of the “Today” show. Couric tells us timing and luck have been on her side. But she has one man to thank for her First Big Break:
Posts Tagged ‘Tim Russert’
By 6:15 p.m. the folding chairs at Politics & Prose were nearly filled as the mostly elderly crowd got situated for the Leibo Show. Two seats contained “reserved” signs, so we were convinced they had to be for NYT‘s Mark Leibovich‘s parents or someone equally important. Holy f–king shit! Was Tammy Haddad coming? Eventually an older couple arrived and sat down. They weren’t Leibo’s parents at all – just random psychology professors who placed the makeshift signs and went next door to eat. Very sneaky.
On Tuesday night, the crowd came to hear Leibovich read from his newly released book, This Town — the dumb thing that Politico has only written about 18 times.
To be sure, the scene felt less This Town and more Seinfeld, the Del Boca Vista episodes.
“How much did you have to pay for that front row seat?” an older gentleman asked a male friend he hadn’t seen in awhile. “Well,” replied the balding acquaintance, “my wife had to knock some people over.”
Later on, an elderly woman with silky bright white hair and a cane used her outside voice to gripe to the person next to her, “I HOPE THIS ENDS AT 8!” The Q & A was still going on at 8:06 p.m. Still annoyed, she added, “I’LL STICK IT OUT BUT I THINK SHE’S LETTING IT GO ON TOO LONG.”
Aside from this woman, if Leibovich was looking for love amid some of the harsher critiques he has received lately, accusing him of social treason and such, this was the place to be. Jim Butcher of the “reserved seat” fame gave the book two thumbs up. “I laughed so much!” he said. “I hope it was meant to be funny. We watch Morning Joe and they all show up on there. It’s one of the funnier books I’ve read in awhile and I read only serious books.”
Soon enough, the author waltzed in. He’s hard to miss – tall, with a shiny bald head, one sharp-edged ear and wearing a blue subtly checked blazer, dark T-shirt and jeans. A momentary hush fell over the aging crowd.
“Brad and I had to fight over who would introduce him,” said Lissa Muscatine, one of the store’s owners, who went on about how neither she, her husband nor Politics & Prose were mentioned in This Town. “As ex-WaPo reporters, far be it for us to be so petty — really, it’s kind of a good news bad news thing to be mentioned in this book.” She tried to articulate the mixed feelings people have about it, saying, “You laugh and then you scream.” This Town, she says, “is what Mark has chronicled so devastatingly and brilliantly.” Still, she cracked that the new beer and wine sold at the shop may make the talk more interesting.
Leibovich stepped up to the podium. “I’m not such a bad guy,” he said, looking down sheepishly. Then he proceeded to majorly suck-up to the owners, telling everyone to buy their books here. Which they did. Some 75 books sold that night, 200 in the past two weeks, making it their top seller for the moment. He mentioned Amazon briefly and then tried to press the verbal delete key when that was met with minor hostility. “This is not me trying to curry favor with the owners,” he said earnestly. “This is our family bookstore. I say this has someone who truly loves the store.” On a touching note: One of Leibo’s daughters posed with the book at the store. He hesitated to call Lissa, a former aide to Hillary Clinton, a source or a friend or even a “friend source” and instead said, “Lissa has always been offering valuable guidance to me.”
With the niceties complete, he dove into real the reason they were all there: This Town. Read more
When PBS’s Gwen Ifill spoke at the Wake Forest University commencement last week, she shared the typical message of continuing to learn and making change in the world. But told graduates not to look to the nation’s capital as a good example.
“Here’s a hint: don’t take your guidance from what you see in Washington,” Ifill said. “I hate to say it, it’s often the worst possible example of how to make change.”
Instead of being cynical about politics, the “Washington Week” moderator said she was “skeptical.” Read more
The White House Soup of the Day, as first reported by MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown” is…
“Every time I host it’s split pea,” said fill-in host Luke Russert. “We’re on the same soup spectrum here.”
On an unrelated but interesting note… among Russert’s guests on the program today was Democratic strategist and pundit James Carville, a longtime friend of his late father, Tim Russert, who appeared often on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Expect to see ex-CNNer James Carville popping up more on MSNBC and ABC’s “This Week.”
We hear Carville is seriously contemplating semi-regular appearances on ABC’s “This Week”, as he did Sunday, and there’s a good shot he’ll try to strike a deal with MSNBC as well. Nothing has been signed on the dotted line. But stay tuned.
As of late, we are seeing former senior political advisor to the Clinton White House on various networks including NBC’s “Today Show,” MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” and CBS “This Morning.” As most know, he’s a fee-agent since he and his wife, Mary Matalin, recently parting ways with CNN.
Carville and Stephanopoulos… Read more
Quotes of the Day
Bachelor Fallout: “My wife just asked me if I’m ‘here for the right reasons.’ The Bachelor is now starting to affect my marriage.” — NBC TODAY Show host and MSNBC “Morning Joe’s” Willie Geist.
Editor has ties to the interloper
“Worked with @TimRosaforte back in the day. Who knew he would become ace White House reporter, scooping on pres golf with WH press shutout.” — NYT‘s Carl Hulse on the writer who scooped and pissed off some members of the White House press corps. this weekend as President Obama went to Florida to golf with Tiger Woods.
Tough choice: Eating cheesecake Vs. urinating
“I would give up cheesecake for life if it meant I never had to pee again.” — Laura Donovan, Associate Culture Editor at PolicyMic and formerly of The Daily Caller.
Deep Thoughts With AP’s Lederman
“I’ve never understood what is so “fun” about the smallest possible size of candy.” — White House reporter Josh Lederman.
Journo says good riddance to Alec Baldwin
“I am so glad 30 Rock is over. Learning that Alec Baldwin is a huge racist would’ve ruined it otherwise.” — Reason magazine’s Mike Riggs.
Russert serves as decoy for athlete
“Perkins signed my ball, then bought me a coke at the bar and used me as an excuse to discontinue convos w women for an hour.” — NBC’s Luke Russert who attended an all-star game and met retired pro-basketball player Sam Perkins. And this reference to his father, Tim Russert: “Pictures of athletes my dad kept in his office: Yogi Berra, Luke Easter, Cookie Gilchrist and Michael Jordan.”
White House scribe feels little sympathy for Jackson Jr.
“Hard to feel sorry for Jesse Jr and his $43k Rolex, King of Pop cape and mink stole. Feel sorry for the hard working constituents he screwed.” — Politico‘s Glenn Thrush.
Journo Hate Mail
“Jamie Weinstein you are the biggest douche-nozzle of your generation. Nicely done creep.” — “mitteatsdicks” — RT by The Daily Caller‘s Jamie Weinstein, who appeared on the HBO’s “Real Time With Bill Maher” panel Friday night.
Politico Playbook Publish Time: 6:55 a.m.
Political, Full House Dreaming…“Last night’s dreams: I had a pug that could talk; my CIA (spy not food) dorm room was broken into, laptop stolen; John Stamos was my brother.” — Carol Blymire, a writer in Takoma Park, Md.
Floridian website crashes
“The website has crashed at the Floridian, where Obama is staying this weekend. POTUS visits tend do that.” — HuffPost‘s Christina Wilkie with accompanying picture.
GASP! A BuzzFeed detractor
“This is what young members of the ruling class do these days: dumb down politics even more.” — Dan Kennedy, Media Nation blogger and journalism instructor at Northeastern University.
Howard Kurtz’ take on what same-sex couples should be called in news stories? Read more
Valentine’s Day came early for WaPo uber blogger Ezra Klein as The New Republic released their profile of him last night as the clock struck midnight. The profile is gushing and full of unbridled passion for Klein. Maybe they’re still kicking themselves in the shins for turning him down for a reporter-researcher position?
1. Enter Ezra the bad Jew. We’re not sure what kind of a Jew Ezra Klein is, but he’s far from traditional. So much so, that it wouldn’t surprise us to learn that he eats shellfish with a side of pork and a glass of milk. For starters, he gives the reporter, Julia Ioffe, a prosciutto sandwich as a peace offering at one of their early meetings. “I have a little spiel I do at this,” he tells her on the way to a speaking engagement at Northern Virgina Community College. And this is the most Yiddish he’ll use in the entire profile. The prosciutto sandwich? Hardly a Jew-y choice, but Ezra has a wonky explanation involving a study that says more judges offer parole once they’ve eaten. So Ez figures she’ll go easier on him if she has some non-kosher food in her stomach. Another non-Jew detail about Ezra: In high school he graduated with a 2.2 GPA (a shameful admission to smart Jews everywhere). Turns out, Ez got into college by the skin of his teeth — University of California-Santa Cruz was the only institution that would let him in. Ioffe described the talk Ezra gave at the community college as reminiscent to a “schticky Bar Mitzvah speech.” What? In our forced vast experience with Bar Mitzvah attendance, there are never “speeches.” Just performances known as “haftorah portions” in which the boy or girl reads from the Torah. We only hope Ezra sang his and that there’s video lurking in his mother’s basement. Finally, Ezra loves Christmas. Whoa! What?
2. Friend-sourcing. For all of Ezzy’s angst about the profile, the sources are painfully tame. The author relies repeatedly on Ezra’s fellow Boybanders for expertise. In a true, believable profile, you get skewered and praised. All your questionable acts arise — his infamous and now defunct Journolist, briefing Senate Democratic Chiefs of Staff about the Supercommittee just days before the Committee announced its failing, and once writing of Tim Russert, “fuck tim russert. fuck him with a spiky acid-tipped dick.” What, the author of the profile can’t even press him to explain this? The only act she mentions is what he wrote about Russert and then doesn’t bother to ask him about it. No, here we get the usuals — Slate‘s Dave Weigel and Matt Yglesias and TPM‘s Brian Beutler — all his nerdy pals saying typical, boring stuff. Which would be fine, if she found a few people who happen to think he’s pontificates way more than he reports or that he’s more of a Democratic policy advisor than a journalist — and there are plenty of journalists in Washington who share this point of view. But nope, in her profile, they don’t exist. The boys verify that Ezra is wound a little tight — in fact, Weigel rolls through his weird memory of dinner parties and can’t recall a single instance in which he ever saw Ezra drunk. Yawn.
3. Ezra’s angst. By far, the most interesting part of the story comes when the author continuously goes into exquisite detail about the internal angst Ezra feels about having a profile written about him in the first place. Before he agreed to it, he met with the author to discuss what the piece would entail. He wrestles with all of it and doesn’t seem to know what tactic to take with Ioffe. Does he open up? Does he expose his discomfort? Does he lay down the law? Does he compliment her, befriend her, cuss with her, scold her and ultimately invite her to his favorite Chinese haunt to finally at least pretend to let her see the real him? In the end, Ezra does all of the above. But our all-time favorite part of the piece is when Ioffe’s hanging out in the “Wonkpod” of The Washington Post — i.e. the nerdy nerve center for Ezzy’s five-person operation. As she scrutinizes his every move — how he sits, his constantly bouncy knee, how he types — he gets all tight-ass on her and instructs her “sternly” that she’s not to print any of the emails on his screen.
“I was not to speak to his family or to his wife. Before I arrived at the Wonkpod, he sent me an e-mail warning me that the Post bigwigs prohibited me from talking to anyone in the newsroom. At one point, he turned around and said, ‘Can you see my screen?’ ‘My e-mails,’ he added sternly, ‘are off the record.’ So were his phone conversations and the names of the people he spoke to throughout the day. He was also worried about revealing the name of an economist at a conservative think tank he considers to be ‘an intense thinker,’ his habit of watching ‘Battlestar Gal- lactica’ in the evenings, as well as his love of Christmas.”
Photograph above by Spencer Heyfron for TNR.
Johnny Rzeznik, guitarist, vocalist, songwriter and founder of the Goo Goo Dolls, was in Washington, D.C. over the weekend to perform at the Creative Coalition Inaugural Ball. We caught up with him this afternoon by phone to pester him about his media preferences and ask about the low and high points of his weekend. Asked if we should call him John or Johnny, he told us men call him “John” and women call him “Johnny.” He doesn’t know why that is. At the conclusion of the interview, we asked if there was anything more he wanted to tell us. As a matter of fact, there was. Their tenth album, Magnetic, is coming out on May 7. The first single is called “Rebel Beat” and is already being played on radio stations. “We’re all really excited to get out there and play our new album, which is upbeat and very positive,” said Rzeznik. “It’s got a good beat and you can dance to it.”
What was the highlight of Inauguration for you? The highlight for me was standing int he press line during the red carpet and seeing Jesse Jackson Sr. standing right next to us. He’s just one of those people who has an aura about him when he walks in a room. Also, doing the show. That’s why we came to town. That was really exciting. It was a real honor to be asked to be part of that celebration because they do a lot of great work on behalf of the arts.
Are you an Obama supporter? I definitely supported him in the last election. I couldn’t get behind the Republicans’ views on women’s issues and marriage equality. I don’t know, I just felt like they are really out of touch with what is going on in America. Just like Joe the cabdriver, it’s the same thing. Joe the cabdriver gets to have a political opinion, so I’m entitled to mine.
What do you like and hate about Washington? I love the Smithsonian. I’m a real dork for that kind of stuff. I love Georgetown, I love all the row houses, I love the feel and energy of this city. The only thing I hate is the traffic and I live in LA. It’s a beautiful city and it’s got so much character and it’s old and I like it.
Who are your favorite members of the media? I enjoy watching Chris Matthews a lot. He reminds me of a throwback to the older school kind of pundits like Tim Russert. I like George Will, I don’t agree with him particularly, but he’s probably the smartest conservative out there. I refuse to listen to Rush Limbaugh. I listen to a lot of conservative radio when I drive around in my car. I refuse to listen to him because he’s just ridiculous, just a clown. I love Rachel Maddow obviously. Jon Stewart. I know it’s a comedy show, but its probably one of the most informative shows out there. Stephanie Miller! I love her! Like ughhh, she’s the best. I agree with her views on issues, I think they check her facts pretty carefully. She’s got an insane sense of humor. It’s nice to see Tim Russert’s son [Luke Russert] in there and doing well too. I was brought up in a very blue collar, Democratic, pro-union house and that’s soaked into your DNA.
Do you have an opinion about Beyoncé lip syncing America the Beautiful? There’s no question in my mind that even if it was a computer playing it back because it was 20 degrees outside, she actually sang whatever on the page. She is brilliant. When you’re in situations like that and the whole world is watching on television, no one plays live on the Super Bowl. There’s no time for a mistake. Could she have sang that live? Absolutely. It was freezing out there. Unless you know how incredibly hard it is to sing when it’s 25 degrees out there, your opinion means nothing.
Have you ever been burned by the media? No. Not really. Maybe a nasty review of my work in a magazine, but who cares?
Does TMZ follow you around? I’m not dating an actress or a supermodel. Nobody is throwing me out of Hyde.
What networks or cable shows do you prefer? I do watch Fox. Sometimes I really enjoy watching Bill O’Reilly. It’s interesting because the older he gets, the more moderate he seems to get. Sort of like watching the end of how the Grinch stole Christmas. I still have hope for him. I can’t discount that everyone I’ve mentioned is part of an agenda. There is no fairness doctrine with the media and you spend time watching everyone and give them equal time.
Like many outlets, Politico wrote up the age dust-up between NBC’s Luke Russert and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi from a Wednesday morning press briefing. Luke wondered if the 70 plussers in the Democratic leadership are holding back a more youthful party. Nancy, none too pleased, attempted to scold him like a child. In the end, she entertained his question.
But it’s those candid commenters who are intriguing. They have much advice for young Luke and a lot to say about his late father, Tim Russert. Here’s a sampling. We’ve bolded the best parts.
Ginny: “Here’s hoping Luke’s mom has a chat w/him.”
Mary: “Russert would have gotten a pass if he asked the same question to old farts like Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid, but he has never done so, and has had plenty of opportunities. He only asked that question to Nancy Pelosi so it does look like a double standard.”
Neil: “Luke Russert is a tremendous hack. Its such a shame the media gave him a free pass because they loved his dad so much. I don’t rag on reporters or public personalities very much, but when it comes to Russert, it just reeks of a ridiculously underqualified dip getting a HUGE leg up simply because of his father’s legacy.”
Doug: “To be blunt, Luke Russert is the poster boy of what’s wrong with media nepotism. He continues to be as clueless and superficial in his analysis as when he first got his job — out of the blue and with no qualifications whatsoever — just after his father died. NBC should be ashamed.”
Wendy: “Luke Russert got his ass handed back to him. Any more questions, punk?”
For him… Read more