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The FishbowlDC Interview With MSNBC and WaPo’s Fashion Conscious Newsman Jonathan Capehart

Say hello to MSNBC Contributor and WaPo liberal op-ed writer Jonathan Capehart. This feature typically runs on Fridays, but what can we say? Capehart is fashionably late and a charmer — we gave him a deadline extension. But worth the wait, he is. Even if just to learn one of his nicknames, which you will find out in his response to “Tell us a secret not many people know about you.” Capehart, born in Newark, N.J. and largely raised in Hazlet, is a unique blend of innocent and stylish to straightforward and serious with a touch of sass. His colleague at MSNBC, Karen Finney refers to him as her “gay husband.” She admits her bias in his favor and more seriously adds, “I have great respect for the seamless and authentic way Jonathan balances his sharp intelligence and wit with good ol street smarts. And his commentary brings a much needed perspective to political and cultural dialog.” Another colleague, MSNBC “Morning Joe” co-host Willie Geist, also sings his praises and takes special note of his style. “Jonathan’s political smarts and cultural savvy come with something that’s in short supply in our business: grace and class,” Geist wrote in an email. “He proves you don’t have to shout to be heard. More importantly, Jonathan comes with shirts, ties, and pocket squares that make the rest of us look like hobos.” A constant presence on MSNBC, Capehart is known most anyplace he goes. Claim to fame: In 1999 he was a contributor to the New York Daily News team that won a Pulitzer for Best Editorial Writing. Writing may be his forté, but he may want to keep bagel consumption on the DL. In 2009, former MSNCBer Dylan Ratigan seriously irked Capehart’s mother by running a clip of her son downing a bagel during a commercial break. She phoned in to the live show and gave Ratigan a piece of her mind, saying, “Do you have cameras in the bathroom or the dressing room? Who you gonna put on national TV next? Because if you wanted to make a fool out of someone… you could use yourself because it really pissed me off.” She charged on, saying her son is neither a “clown” nor a “kid at a birthday party.” Gawker called Ratigan a “dick” over the incident. The host apologized. Enjoy! (Photo credit: Frank Thorp)
If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be?  San Pellegrino Aranciata
How often do you Google yourself?  About once a quarter. Gotta know what the nasty folks are saying/writing — that they’re not saying on Twitter.
What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Can’t think of anything. Thankfully, I have nothing that even comes close to “worst.”
Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Unfair. I can’ t pick just one.
Do you have a favorite word? Terrific.
What word or phrase do you overuse? I probably say the words “divine” or “superb” a little too much.
Who would you rather have dinner with – ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CNN’s Candy Crowley or CBS’s Gayle King. Tell us why. Gayle King! I know her, but I haven’t dined with her. It would be one long, boozy, laughter-filled  gabfest.
Who has better style Kim Kardashian or Kate Middleton? I mean really — KATE!
What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had recently with a source or a politician? I can’t tell you that.
You’re going to need to use your imagination on this one. The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either first lady Michelle Obama or would-be first lady Ann Romney. We’re also going to go ahead and give you a few other options…Any of Mitt and Ann Romney’s five sons or Anderson Cooper? Who will it be? Um….wow….um….You do realize that under any scenario, we’re looking at extinction, right?
Do you have any funny TV bloopers? You mean besides the bagel incident? Can’t get much funnier than that. Oh, wait, there was the first time I did sports on “Way Too Early.”
Which presidential candidate would you most like to fight with? Break bread with? Go jogging with? Fight with? Assuming you mean a verbal fight, Mitt Romney. Break bread with? President Obama. Go jogging with? I jog alone.
What’s the name of your cell phone ring?  Old phone.
It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry? No.
You have to watch a Saturday afternoon marathon of one of the following shows. Pick one: FNC’s The Five, CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight or TLC’s Here Comes Honey Boo Boo? Honey Boo Boo. Um, would there be vodka?
What word do you routinely misspell? Withhold
What swear word do you use most often? It’s a 12-letter word that I’ve shrunk to a phonetic 9 letters.
If you weren’t a journalist what would you be? Maybe a concierge at a high-end hotel or a diplomat.
You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) Karen Finney, Juleanna Glover, Michael Steele and Ed Rendell.
When you pig out what do you eat? A double cheeseburger from Shake Shack. #YUM
If you could influence journalism in one way right now what would it be? I would issue an edict that writers spend at least 30 minutes thinking about what they’re writing or going to write. Breaking news or being on the news is meaningless if it’s wrong.
When did you last cry and why? It was a couple of years ago over personal stuff.
What TV show is your guilty pleasure?  
”RuPaul’s Drag Race” on LogoTV followed by “Millionaire Matchmaker” on Bravo.
What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Either my first trip to Italy in 1992 or the five days I spent on Tortola in January. Divine….oh, dangit!
How often do you shop for clothes and what are your favorite stores? I don’t shop nearly as much as I did when I lived in New York City. Then it was constant. Now, I zip out to the Barneys Outlet in Leesburg to stock up on Piatelli shirts.
Have you ever had a near-death experience? No. Thank God.
Ever been arrested? Are you kidding?! My mother would KILL me.
Tell us a secret not many people know about you. Because of a gymnastics routine my best friend Alison and I did for the talent show in the Sixth grade at Beers Street Elementary School in Hazlet, N.J., which involved us jumping into splits, I was given the nickname “Iron balls.”
What scares you? Getting something wrong.
Who is your mentor? Just about every boss I’ve ever had.
What and where was your first job in journalism? Do my summer internships on The TODAY Show (1986 and 1987) count? If not, then when I was hired as a researcher on The TODAY Show in 1992.
What’s your most embarrassing career moment? Too long a story to tell, but it involves Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, the Delta Shuttle lounge at LaGuardia and a Christian Dior suit.
Have you ever been fired? No. But I was made an offer designed for me to refuse.
When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? An al fresco lunch with friends in midtown Manhattan back in July. One friend was telling a hilarious story filled with hijinks and shenanigans.
When and why did you last lose your temper? I can’t recall.
Which movie title best describes your journalism career?  “It’s a Wonderful Life.”
Who would you want to play you in a movie? I’m told Jeffrey Wright would be a good likeness.   
Name jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years): Pumped gas my last two high school summers at the Sunoco in Wildwood, N.J.; Assistant to the president of my alma mater Carleton College and then to the president of WNYC; Policy adviser to Mike Bloomberg; Senior Counselor for Public Affairs at Hill & Knowlton.
Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it? I don’t have one of those really. I have one pic of me meeting President Clinton at a White House dinner in 1999 and one of me greeting President Obama at the British state dinner this year. Both are in a discrete corner in my apartment.
Who should just call it a day? Oooh. A name comes to mind, but I’m SOOOO not telling you.
From TMZ Founder Harvey Levin: You are about to be served your last meal. What will it be? A big ball of mozzarella di bufala, fresh tomatoes and basil with a drizzle of olive oil, salt and pepper….and a martini.
From Reason’s Peter SudermanYou’re given a choice between living a normal length life looking like you’re 28 and a thousand year life in which your age shows the whole time. Which would you pick and why? I’d pick the thousand years option. To see how life and history would change over a millennium would be fantastic. Besides, I’d finally have enough to time to finish all the books I’ve started reading and never finished.
From Politico’s self-serving Ben White: Is Ben White the greatest CURRENT financial/political hybrid journalist or the greatest OF ALL TIME? Oh, leave Ben alone.
Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good. It could live on indefinitely. Have you ever refused to shake someone’s hand? If so, who was it and why?
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