Taking the buyouts announced last month at NPR are longtime producer and news reader Jean Cochran and off-mike veterans Stu Seidel and Kee Malesky. The surprise on the list is social media guru Andy Carvin, who has only been with the organization seven years, and has become a well-known figure online for his coverage of the Arab Spring, helping to expand the role of social media in newsgathering.
Carvin submitted his name for a voluntary buyout in September, when NPR announced its intention to reduce staff by 10 percent. Carvin said today on his personal website that NPR made him an offer. Carvin, 42, is still mulling whether to accept, he said in an interview with Washingtonian, but says he’s more likely to leave NPR after seven years than stay on.
“While a part of me will always love this institution, there are probably other things I can do that would be a new challenge,” Carvin says. “Seven years is also a long time, a hell of a lot has changed in so many ways.”
The San Francisco Chronicle is joining the list of publications that will not print the name of Washington’s NFL team, the paper’s managing editor confirms to Washingtonian.
“Our long-standing policy is to not use racial slurs—and make no mistake, ‘redskin’ is a slur—except in cases where it would be confusing to the reader to write around it,” Audrey Cooper writes in an e-mail. Going forward, the Chronicle will use the name in coverage of the ongoing controversy surrounding its use, but when it comes to coverage of the National Football League—for instance the San Francisco 49ers’ trip to FedEx Field on November 25—it will simply go with “Washington.”
Former Washington defensive end Dexter Manley was dimissed from his role as a football commentator for WTOP this morning following a segment in which he called former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman a “queer.” Jim Farley, WTOP’s vice president for news, says Manley, 53, won’t be coming back to his airwaves.
“Needless to say we will not have him back on WTOP,” Farley tells Washingtonian.
Manley was on about 9:40 AM to discuss Washington's 45-21 loss to the Denver Broncos yesterday, and his conversation with hosts Mike Moss and Bruce Alan turned to Fox’s broadcast team for the game, which featured Aikman as a commentator. Here’s how it went:
Since the Washington Post was sold to Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos there has been a process of letting go—the latest step being a private farewell gathering held last night for Post Company chairman and CEO Donald Graham in a room on the ground floor of the Post’s 15th Street, Northwest, building where the presses once stood.
Among the current and former Post employees in attendance was Brian Noyes, a former art director for the Post who now owns and operates the Red Truck Bakery in Warrenton, Virginia. Here’s his report, sent to Washingtonian in an e-mail:
“The RSVPs added up to 643, but many, many more faces from the past who weren’t on the list were there to hear a reporter from each decade of Don’s tenure stand up to make remarks about those ten years and to offer a toast along with all of us. Finally Don was introduced but, from stage left, John Harris [a former Post reporter, now editor in chief of Politico] appeared dressed in Don’s actual sport coat (obtained from Don’s wife) and sweater and did a spot-on impersonation of Don—and the real Don couldn’t stop laughing.
In her 92-year lifetime, pioneering White House reporter Helen Thomas made her mark on journalism, but also on her Washington colleagues, and since her death in July those impressions have been noted at a few memorial gatherings, including one at the National Press Club. The most recent, an intimate get-together of people who worked alongside her at one time or another on the White House beat, took place Monday night at a private dinner in Georgetown. A group of 16 told stories and laughed as they recalled their dear friend. Carl Cannon, who covered the White House for the National Journal before joining Real Clear Politics, called her a “reporter’s reporter. Forget the gender, the politics—she was a pure reporter.” Tina Rafalovich, who covered the White House for Bloomberg Radio, said, “When you raise your glass it’s not just to Helen, it’s to everybody in this room, and all the ladies.”
Thomas was a trailblazer for women in media, breaking into bastions that had long been boys’ clubs, a fact noted by President Barack Obama in a statement after her death. She began her career in Washington in 1943, and by 1960, after covering the election campaign of President John F. Kennedy, she became the first woman reporter assigned full-time to the White House beat by a news service, United Press International. She was the first woman elected president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, the first woman elected to the Gridiron Club, and the only woman print reporter to travel with President Richard Nixon on his historic 1972 trip to China. Anyone who followed presidential news conferences recognized her as the woman in the front row, usually in pearls and a red dress, who asked the first question and closed out the session with, “Thank you, Mr. President.”
At the party some of the women guests wore pearls or red as a homage to their friend.
The stories the group told spanned trips with presidents, long hours in the White House briefing room, and social occasions, including a birthday celebration at Mama Ayesha’s, Thomas’s favorite restaurant, which served the cuisine of her Lebanese heritage. “A bunch of us got together at Mama Ayesha’s for her 90th birthday,” said Linda Kenyon of Salem Radio News. “When she turned 91 we went to do it again. We’re all sitting around the table and a bunch of us started asking, ‘Where’s Helen?’ We forgot to invite her.’” Each thought the other had done the deed. Immediately someone called her. “She was there lickety-split,” said Kenyon. “She showed up dressed beautifully—pearls, her makeup was just perfect—and she was so gracious.” What did Thomas say at the party she almost missed? “Ah, to be 90 again.”
People in recovery from alcoholism or other addiction will tell you that stories are very important. Telling their own story is an integral part of the recovery process, what political commentator Bob Beckel calls coming “out of the dark and back into the light.” Beckel, a former Carter administration official who currently appears on Fox News’s The Five, told his story Tuesday evening at the Recovery for Life Gala hosted by Caron Treatment Centers. “I’ve given a lot of speeches in my years but this may be the most difficult,” he told the audience. “I’ll try to get through this.” He did get through it, breaking down only once, and captivated the audience with his often troubling but moving words.
“In about four hours we will have crossed the threshold into another day, and we put another day under our belt,” he said. “Some of us have a lot of days, some of us have a few, but it only takes one. If somebody’s here tonight and quit drinking yesterday, you are no different than those of us who have been around for years.”
Beckel, who was presented with the Caron Alumni Award, did not say when he first sought treatment or how long he has been sober— a Caron representative said about 13 years—but he mentioned that he arrived at Caron’s facility in Wernersville, Pennsylvania, at the same time as another former presidential appointee, Ron Ziegler, who served as President Nixon’s press secretary, notably during the Watergate scandal. When Nixon resigned and moved back to California, Ziegler went along.
“Ron went with him and had to listen to football games with him every week, which I thought was a contributing factor to Ron’s drinking,” Beckel said. “Ron and I had been in different White Houses, we came from different parties, but we spent hours talking about drinking and life and politics. When he left Caron and I left Caron we stayed in touch, because I loved him very much.” Beckel said eventually he stopped hearing from Ziegler. “I lost track of him,” he said. Ziegler died in February 2003. “I found out Ron died from the complications of alcoholism—something, by the way, he predicted would happen,” Beckel said. “If he were here tonight like me, fortunate enough to find the light world again, he would ask each of you to provide a beacon to lead a struggling alcoholic out of the dark and back into the light.” He dedicated his award to Ziegler.
Even the playwright, veteran broadcast journalist Jim Lehrer, admits he learned a lot about his subject, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, while creating the 90-minute piece that launches NatGeo’s first ever theater production as part of National Geographic Live. The one-act, one-man play, called simply Bell, stars DC actor Rick Foucheux, and opened Thursday night with a packed house and a crowded after-party.
Everyone knows, of course, that Bell invented the telephone, and that is addressed in the play, but it also mentions other interesting pieces of his life that caught our attention, including:
• Bell’s role in treating President James Garfield after he was shot in an assassination attempt, and his frustration when doctors would not properly use a metal detector he invented, which could have found the bullet. Infection set in, and Garfield declined and eventually succumbed. “He died a painful death after being shot at the Washington train station,” Bell says in the play. “Please do not interpret my actions as heroic. I was motivated by wanting to save the life of a president.”
• That at the same time as the Wright Brothers, Bell was creating his own first airplane, and the race to be first was intense. “We inventors of those days were involved in a monumental invention warfare—we all wanted to invent a flying machine.” Later, frustrated by being beaten by the Wright Brothers, Bell laments, “The invention of flight dwarfed what I did with the telephone.”