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Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page C03

Media Frenzy at Press Club

Spirited bloggers invaded the National Press Club yesterday morning for a panel discussion that tackled Big Questions, such as "Who is a journalist?" (everyone) and "What is journalism? (no one had an easy answer). The scene in the lobby was quite raucous, The Post's Jose Antonio Vargas reported. Blogger Mike Rogers was told that he was "banned for life" from the club after he repeatedly pursued former Talon News correspondent Jeff Gannon, aka James Guckert, loudly asking him how he got his White House credentials. During the panel discussion, Gannon brought down the house with this little nugget: "You can hardly call Fox News conservative."

Carville, in Praise of Rove

Wait a minute -- former Clintonite James Carville writing a big, fat love letter to "Bush's Brain" Karl Rove?

Former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon created a stir at the Press Club. (Sarah L. Voisin -- The Washington Post)

The Ragin' Cajun -- who's never hurting for ink or TV time -- wrote a profile of Rove for Time magazine's issue listing 100 of the world's most influential people. "Sometimes the truth hurts," Mary Matalin's hubby wrote, "and it pains me to the core to say this, but Karl Rove is the preeminent political strategist in America today.

"He made the last election an election not about policies or positions or even about values or national security -- he made it about decisiveness. Who else has ever won the presidency on a message that basically says, 'You may not like what I stand for, but at least I stand for something.' " And Karl -- if you ever want to join the Dems, good ole James says he'd accept you "without a second thought."

No Fowl Play Likely Now

A mallard apparently has become the safest duck on the planet now that the Secret Service is guarding her nest and nine eggs.

Technically the Secret Service is protecting the Treasury Department, but this smart duck placed her nest on a pile of mulch surrounding a tree right outside the main entrance of the department on Pennsylvania Avenue -- which is also next door to the presidential residence.

"Foreign leaders, members of Congress, everybody who visits Treasury has to pass by the duck," department spokesman Rob Nichols said yesterday. She is becoming quite the little star, appearing on "Regis and Kelly" yesterday morning and attracting hordes of gawkers. So the Secret Service has set up protective metal guardrails for the duck -- whose suggested names are "Quacks Reform" and, our fave, "Duck Cheney."

The little duckies -- de-duck-tions? -- are expected to hatch at the end of April.

Noted . . .

"The leadership of the Republican Party are a bunch of sociopathic maniacs who have their lips super-glued to the [posterior] of the conservative right," so Alec Baldwin claimed while yammering on HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" last week. It's a wonder he's not in Washington more often . . . If Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) decides to quit politics, he'll have his cooking skills to fall back on. The lawmaker and his wife, Barbara, brought home the best-in-show award for their Home on the Range Buffalo Chili at Wednesday's March of Dimes Gourmet Gala at the National Building Museum. "I'd give a tip of the hat to Barb Johnson on this one," Johnson's rep told us with uproarious laughter yesterday. "I think he'd be more likely to have cereal over the kitchen sink if it weren't for her cooking" . . . And finally, the pope is late, and so is this quote, but we couldn't pass it up. During the marathon pope coverage, CNN's Larry King lobbed this question to actor Jim Caviezel (who played Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ"): "Jim, you think he's with Jesus now? We only have 30 seconds."

. . . and Quoted

"Talking about music is like talking about sex. Can you describe it? Are you supposed to?"

-- Bruce Springsteen, during a taping this week for VH1's "Storytellers."

-- Compiled by Anne Schroeder

from staff and wire reports

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