Remembering a Writer Whose Stories Moved Faster Than the Speed Limit

Vic sometimes looked serious but inside he was smiling.

Vic Gold, a longtime Washington political operator and writer, died in June and yesterday there was a celebration of his life at Acadiana, a DC restaurant that specializes in the New Orleans food he loved.

There were a lot of political types in the room and much of  the talk was about politics—Vic was closely tied to President George H.W. Bush and before that to Barry Goldwater, Spiro Agnew, and other Republican pols. He was a conservative but with an open and interesting mind.

A Reminder That Things Appear Much Clearer When Looking Back

Reaction to the Ken Burns series on the Vietnam War has been mostly disbelief that the country poured so much money and lost so many lives in what now seems a senseless war. A typical reaction on Facebook: “So many bad decisions compounded by more bad decisions. What a senseless, hideous war that was.”

Here are excerpts from a February 1970 Washingtonian article that laid out what the Washington Post editorial page said about the war from 1961 to 1969:

When an Obit Makes You Smile

From an obituary, “Jake LaMotta, ‘Raging Bull’ of boxing, dies at 95” by Matt Schudel in the Washington Post:

Mr. LaMotta was married six times, most memorably to his second wife, Beverly Thailer, who was better known as Vikki and was played by Cathy Moriarty in the film “Raging Bull.”

They were married in 1946, when Vikki was 16. At age 51, she appeared in a nude pictorial in Playboy, prompting a predictable joke from Mr. LaMotta: “She always complained she had nothing to wear. I never believed her until I saw her in Playboy.”

Why Is the Washington Post Asking Me?

By Mike Feinsilber?

You thought a newspaper’s job was to provide answers to readers’ questions? That proposition is turned upside down by lots of Post headlines.  Will you take a look at what Post web and print headlines asked me–and other readers–on Wednesday, September 20?

Will Chipotle Choke on Its Own Queso?
(The Mexican-flavored food chain created a cheese dip some tasters didn’t like.)

“Rocket Man”: Was That a Slam of Kim Jong Un – Or a Compliment?

Got a Weird Amazon Email About a Baby Registry You Don’t Have?

Can Centrism Be a Movement?
(Over a Kathleen Parker column. Her answer was yes.)

Tending Bar Is Good Training for Journalism—and May Get You a Job

A post last week quoted Maggie Haberman, a star reporter at the New York Times, as saying her early life as a bartender made her a better journalist: “That was the best training that I had for learning how to approach people.”  Having also worked as a bartender before going into journalism, I expanded on Haberman’s quote with more wisdom you might pick up behind the bar, along with a lot of tip money.

Al McGuire, a great basketball coach who won a national championship coaching at Marquette University, said it this way:

Evergreen Advice for Editors: Keep a Sense of Wonder

Arnold Gingrich on the only priceless ingredient of editorial success.

At the risk of seeming naive, I’d place my bet on the editorial success of someone who, though grown up, could still preserve those attributes described by Lewis Carroll in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

Child of the clear unclouded brow

And dreaming eyes of wonder.

The operating word is wonder. In a day of mass sophistication, of appetites jaded by affluence, of sensibilities dulled by excesses, the ability still to marvel at things oneself, and thus be able to make others marvel, is to me the only priceless ingredient of editorial success.

Why Working as a Bartender Is Good Training for Journalism

Maggie Haberman: Bartending taught me how to approach people.

Maggie Haberman, a star reporter at the New York Times, was interviewed by New York magazine about “how she gets it done” and this quote got some attention:

I was a bartender for four years, and that was the best training that I had for learning how to approach people.

My guess, as someone who also worked as a bartender before going into journalism, is that if asked she could have said a lot more about what you can learn behind the bar.

9/11: Journalists Weren’t Checking Their Phones Every Five Minutes

By Jack Limpert

On September 11, 2001, Brian Lamb, the head of C-SPAN, and I were having breakfast at the Mayflower Hotel on DC’s Connecticut Avenue. When we got there at 8:30, another dozen journalists were in the dining room—Al Hunt, Bill Kristol, and others.

We had a nice breakfast  and about 9:45 we left, stopping to talk with some of the other journalists and then heading back to our offices. When I got to the Washingtonian’s office, two blocks away, the  magazine staff was sitting silently in the publisher’s office, staring uncomprehendingly at the TV.

Watergate Revisited: Why Mark Felt Was No American Hero

In All the President’s Men, Woodward and Bernstein wrote that Deep Throat, later revealed to be Mark Felt, was a secret source for their reporting.

Max Holland has a good piece today at POLITICO.COM headlined:

The Myth of Deep Throat

Mark Felt wasn’t out to protect American democracy; he was out to get a promotion.

Holland’s story calls into question the many stories, in the Washington Post, the New Yorker, and elsewhere, that try to portray the FBI’s Mark Felt as an American hero. In his story, Holland references two Washingtonian stories in 1974 that first pointed to Felt as the likely mystery man who the Post’s Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein later claimed, in their book All the President’s Men, helped them report their Watergate stories.

Sorry, Mr. Bezos, Democracy Dies in Darkness Isn’t the Way to Sell a Newspaper

When Amazon’s Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post, he changed the page one logo to:

The Washington Post

Democracy Dies in Darkness

In promoting the paper, the Post now is using its old logo:

The Washington Post

If you don’t get it, you don’t get it

The New York Times has long used “All the News That’s Fit to Print”


The Washingtonian: The Magazine Washington Lives By

The Chicago Tribune long used: The World’s Greatest Newspaper

USA Today: The Nation’s Newspaper