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The FishbowlDC Interview with the Examiner’s Newly Promoted Tim Carney

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tim-carney.jpg Say hello to the Washington Examiner‘s Tim Carney. This week he was promoted to senior political columnist. He has been the lobbying editor for the past 18 months. Noteworthy details: He deeply regrets his involvement in the Dave Weigel wedding dancing story in his own paper’s gossip column, and considers it his most embarrassing career moment. His 3-year-old sounds like a budding comedian.

We must admit, we absolutely hate it when interviewees think they are somehow allowed to pick someone other than Michelle Obama or Sarah Palin for our dinner question and instead choose, “my wife.” Please. Your wife can come along if she absolutely has to, but just for answering the question like this, you will have dinner with Palin, a crying Trig, a fighting Bristol and Levi and the rest of the brood. Todd Palin will be in a particularly sour mood. And dinner will be Palin’s moose stew. Cooked rare.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Ommegang Trappist-style beer. Unless that meant I couldn’t drink Ommegang without being a cannibal. Pass.

How often do you Google yourself? I have Google news alerts, so Google Googles me for me.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? An editor to me: ‘Tim, I know what story I want you to write next week: The same one you wrote this week, except this time, do it well.’

Who is your favorite working journalist? Michael Lewis. If you mean more daily journalist, it might be Holman Jenkins. And by “favorite,” I mean most frequently fills me with teeth-gnashing envy.

Who would you rather have dinner with – First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? My wife.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? I think it’s called “old phone.”

What word or phrase do you overuse? I used to use “He [or she] is not alone… to segue from anecdote to data. I’m on a moratorium from that after Examiner Metro reporter Kytja Weir told me it was lazy and overused.

What TV show do you have to watch? I don’t watch TV. My wife and I watched The Wire on Netflix. I feel like it’s probably all downhill from there.

Where do you shop most often for your clothes? My wife buys my clothes – and my mom and brothers at Christmas.

Read Carney’s thoughts on his mentor, the late Bob Novak, who died about a year ago, after the jump…


Who do you prefer for daytime talk, Dr. Phil, Ellen, Oprah, Tyra or the women of The View? The only sense I could make of that question is that you should have said “whom do you prefer…” But maybe that was part of the rest of the joke.

Pick one: Leno, Letterman or Conan? Did I mention I don’t watch TV?

If you were trapped on a deserted island, which public official would you want to be trapped with and why? Barack Obama – because then Barack Obama would be trapped on a desert island. Nothing personal, but this could slow the growth of government. Also, the military would try to find us.

Who is your mentor? Bob Novak. He was the hardest working man I ever knew, and he instilled in me the notion that if you’re not reporting, you’re wasting your readers’ time. He also was a shining example of doggedness, dissent, patriotism, and faith.

What’s the best advice you ever received in the course of your career? Terry Jeffrey, my first editor, told me that wherever money and government meet, you’ll find corruption.

What and where was your first job in journalism? For the Pelham Weekly, I covered high-school sports, including the Great Football Drinking Scandal of 1995.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? Leaking to our gossip page a story about my friend dancing at a wedding. I should have realized that what I thought was fun ribbing could end up being hurtful.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career? Enemy of the State.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy most? Just before the 2004 elections, I stopped in a Dubuque shoe store overhanging the Mississippi. The owner was a Catholic whose brothers were all priests. He had stolen his wife from a convent. It was his first time voting Republican, and his wife’s second time. I bought a pair of shoes I’m wearing today.

Which one interview of your career did you enjoy least? There’s a 20-way tie here for various interviews with “on-message” politicians.

What’s the biggest scoop you’ve ever had? Not a scoop, but the biggest-impact exclusive I ever had was an interview with Jesse Jackson during the first round of Bush v Gore oral arguments. Jackson said all sorts of crazy inflammatory stuff — the sort of comments that set the tone for the latter weeks of the recount. He charged conspiracy, race-based disenfranchisement, and compared Bush to Slobodan Milosovic. My intern, while transcribing it, leaked the transcript to Drudge, and by the time I got home and used my dial-up connection to the Internet, it was the biggest story on the web, and the banner headline on Drudge.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? When I asked my three-year-old the President’s name, and she answered “Big Government.”

When and why did you last lose your temper? During Obama’s State of the Union address, he said, “we’ve excluded lobbyists from policy making jobs.” I yelled at the TV. And then I compiled a list of 45 ex-lobbyists Obama had placed in policy making jobs.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? The guy who played Rudy. Or Shane McGowan.

Name some jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years): Movie theater usher, farm hand, lab assistant, gym assistant, lawn boy, dog walker, and book editor.

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