Other stuff

MSNBC

I joined MSNBC as a political analyst just as the channel was finding its voice in 2003.  As the Bush administration fell apart, and Obama’s campaign began, MSNBC stood out from the crowd.

I began work on MSNBC’s first real website – msnbc.com – in 2011. Check it out from the fall of 2013.

If you want to read the archive of what I’ve written for msnbc.com, you can find it here.

Along the way, our friends at Saturday Night Live caught on to what we were doing. I think I’m the one with the accent.

THE DAILY BEAST

When Tina Brown started The Daily Beast, people wondered whether the interwebs needed yet another magazine-style site.

People were wrong. Tina calls it sensibility. Whatever you call it, The Daily Beast has got it: a great mix of stories, writers, and attitude. As they like to say in Tina’s office, Read This Skip That.

You can find a collection of my contributions here at The Daily Beast site.

NEWSWEEK

Over the course of more than six years at Newsweek, I worked on many cover stories, ranging from foreign policy to the Kerry campaign; and from the second Bush term to Barack Obama. Here is a selection of those stories:

One of my last bylines at the magazine, this cover story looked at the Obama-Lincoln comparisons. Typical of a news magazine story, this is the product of groupthink among senior editors, coupled with reporting from the ground.

This was a Question-and-Answer with Michelle Obama; an exclusive from just before the election. For reasons I never fully understood, the magazine chose not to print it. Instead it lives online and provides a unique insight into the pre-election planning for the historic changes ahead for the Obama family.

An early cover on Michelle Obama, dating back to February 2008, when the campaign was in its post-Iowa orbit. I first interviewed Michelle in the summer of the previous year, when her stump speech was far more impressive than her husband’s.

Where it all began: in Iowa. We crashed this cover story in 24 hours after the Iowa caucuses, with no sleep and lots of coffee, as the campaign rolled into New Hampshire. It would be an understatement to describe Obama’s team as feeling giddy at the time. Four days later, they fell back down to Earth with Hillary Clinton’s comeback victory.

Here’s a taste of another president’s style as he was tested by crisis. This cover story was planned ahead of time; we had no idea the G8 summit would coincide with Israel’s invasion of Lebanon. It was extraordinary to watch George W. Bush react to events as they unfolded, at close range. There was a bizarre, other-worldly feel to the whole series of events among the world’s leaders. Maybe that was typical of the Bush era.

DOCUMENTARIES

Back in 2000 I had this larger-than-life seatmate on the Bush plane, who was determined to make a road movie of the whole experience. Alexandra Pelosi was a lowly NBC producer at the time, but I knew she had a very clear idea of what she wanted to do with her video camera. Others mis-underestimated her, as the candidate liked to say. But he too understood that Pelosi was serious about not seeming very serious. The result was the true-to-life movie,Journeys With George, which holds up incredibly well over time. This is what it feels like to cover an election, especially one with no serious issues, at a time of peace and prosperity, which would prove fleeting.

As if that experience weren’t enough, I lent my help to two young movie-makers shooting their own documentary this time around. Amy Rice and Alicia Sams have produced an astonishing and emotional record of the people behind the Obama campaign. By The People was backed by Edward Norton, and was aired by HBO in 2009.

RADIO

I love radio. One old reporter told me that radio was the purest form of journalism because there was nothing that stood in the way of the information. The audience was not put off by the sight of the reporter or the effort of reading: the words passed straight into the heads of the audience. And the old reporter was a TV guy.

I grew up listening to radio in every room of my home, and that’s still true in my home in DC today. That might explain why I say yes to every radio request that comes my way.

In recent years, I’ve worked extensively with the following great shows: The Brian Lehrer Show (WNYC)On Point with Tom Ashbrook (WBUR)Here and Now with Robin Young(WBUR)To the Point with Warren Olney (KCRW), and Issues in the News (VOA).

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