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Lloyd Grove
Lloyd Grove
The Reliable Source
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The Reliable Source
Hosted by Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, Nov. 22, 2002; 11 a.m. ET

Got a rumor to dispel or confirm? Looking for dirt on your favorite or most-hated Washington celebrity? Ask "The Reliable Source" columnist Lloyd Grove.

Grove, a 20-year veteran of The Washington Post, has been writing The Reliable Source column in the Style section since May 1999.

Grove grew up in Los Angeles and Greenwich, Conn. He was an English major at Yale and worked for the Kansas City Times (now defunct, we think), the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and the Dallas Morning News before joining the Post on the Weekend section, where for a few years he reviewed practically every live theater show that opened in D.C., including a few in church basements.

From there, he joined Style as a general assignment writer with a special interest in politics, and spent a year and a half covering the 1988 presidential campaign for the National staff. In 1991 -- after an ill-advised book leave -- he returned to Style and served as a political reporter, with occasional detours into television and movie coverage. He also has written extensively for Vanity Fair magazine.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.

Lloyd Grove: Top o' the morning. Hope some of you found a smidgen in my Al and Tipper interview that you hadn't already read or seen or heard elsewhere. Talk about media saturation! Since their books aren't doing all that well, I guess this is largely about pre-announcement positioning. Anyhow, I have an announcement to make as I position myself on this chair here: I am ready for whatever you throw at me.

Washington, D.C.: That 'Freedom is just another word for nothing left to lose' line Tipper and Al used in your column yesterday was also used in the Post Magazine piece about him. INCLUDING the Kris Kristofferson/Janis Joplin annoyingness. Gore running a more casual, laid back campaign? He's as scripted and stiff as ever. This whole book tour is just painful to watch.

Lloyd Grove: I thought he did well on Letterman. On the other hand, this idea that he is "over it" and "moved on" and has become a new, loose, emotionally open Al just ain't working for me. I like him, but he is the same obsessive compulsive, pedagogically minded politician as he ever was -- witness his angry phone call to my colleague Liza Mundy last weekend over the alleged violation of a news embargo. I'm sure he now realizes that he never should have made that call. But it was revealing.

Carson City, Ariz.: Have you heard what Sen. McCain said yeterday? He was on Arizona's talk, KFYI 550AM (on Barry Young's show)and said Rush Limbaugh was entertaining and funny like a "circus clown."

If nothing else this comment should leave no doubt that he's not gonna run for any office in 2004. I suspect Limbaugh's response to to it will be very long and very intense. But it was a "Barry Goldwater-ish" thing to say.

Lloyd Grove: McCain is in the "straight-talk" tradition of Barry Goldwater, who would say just about anything that came into his brain. Later in life, Goldwater -- who was the archest of arch consveratives in his day--became something of a gay activist, signing up as a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign Fund. I'm sure McCain can handle Rush just fine.

Washington D.C.: Re: Trent Lott -- Can you clarify; toupee, or just one hell of a lot of asphalt sealant? Inquiring minds want to know.

Lloyd Grove: Not a toupee. Real hair, but hardened against nuclear attack.

Virginia: Why is Al Gore still mad about the 2000 election? I looked at the map at http://www.chronwatch.com/aboutus/index.asp and President Bush won almost all the counties and most states.

Lloyd Grove: It was damn close, though.

Washington, D.C. : Well if Al quit drinking 12 cokes a day maybe he would calm down.

Lloyd Grove: He just had water at lunch.

Silver Spring, Md.: Al Gore in a dress? That's a scary thought. What male Washingtonian would look best in a dress, though?

Lloyd Grove: Harvey Pitt.

Washington, D.C.: I caught you on Fox News a while ago. You got me to thinking ... has anyone ever told you that you sound like Al Gore? Well, you sure do to me.

Lloyd Grove: Thank you soooo much!
Though I would point out that I drop my "gs" far less frequently than Al does and I have only been to Tennessee a few times in my life.

Washington, D.C.: I do believe Mr. Gore is acting a bit like a crybaby. A colicky one, too.

Lloyd Grove: Well if he runs this time, he probably will have to come up with a positive platform that makes no reference to the injustice done him.

Washington: Lloyd:

Lots of Washingtonians were guests at the lawyer-turned-investment guru David Bonderman's Las Vegas birthday ... He used to work for one of the D.C. firms and his first wife and kids live here ...so how come no news?

Lloyd Grove: I guess it was a case of me not knowing about this even till quite late in the week, not knowing or hearing from any of the local attendees, and the fact that Mr. Bonderman has departed this area and now lives in Texas.

Washington, DC: You just said "I have only been to Tennessee a few times in my life." Well, the same could be said for Al Gore, raised in the D.C. Ritz Carlton hotel.

Lloyd Grove: He did, in fact, spend his summers down there growing up, working on his dad the senator's farm.

Silver Spring, Md.: Well, since John Kerry -- the tall Dukakis -- is already running for president, we need to know MORE about his youthful indiscretions. What was that "four sheets to the wind" quip about? Is he a big boozer or what?

Lloyd Grove: In the end everything will become clear (or, in this case, maybe stay hazy). But it's evident that Kerry is test-marketing some candor in preparation for his presidential campaign.

Arlington, Va.: Lloyd, I have felt that both Bush II and Gore come across as whiny babies most of the time. Perhaps it is time to find someone who didn't become famous because of who his father was and select someone like McCain who prospered because his father-in-law had money.

Lloyd Grove: Actually, McCain's father AND grandfather were famous admirals, and I have no doubt he would have been a success no matter WHO his father-in-law was.

Washington: Lloyd:

Did you know that Chelsea Clinton was at Gramercy Tavern when you were having lunch with the Gores? Just wondered if you were just being discreet.

Lloyd Grove: Didn't see her. It's a big place, and I was pretty focused on the job at hand. How do you know this?

Gore - 2000 election map: About the map, well, duh! But all that red land is the more sparsely inhabited areas of the country and you'l note that all the blue Gore territory is where most of the population and industry are. Hence his victory in the popular vote...

Lloyd Grove: I guess everybody will keep on making these salient points right up until the first Tuesday in November 2004.

12th Floor Metro Center: So what was Liza Mundy's response to Al Gore's tirade? I mean, do you yell back at a former Vice President or just take it in stride?

Lloyd Grove: I haven't talked to her directly, but I gather she just listened, let him vent, explained that she was not the one who made the decision to print the news account of her magazine, and left it at that.

Chicago, Ill.: Since when is Limbaugh so formidable that he's a threat to anyone? Besides Daschle of course.

Lloyd Grove: I'm sure even Daschle can handle him in a pinch.

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd: Did you see JFK's medical files were released. He was on as many drugs as Elvis.

Lloyd Grove: Something like this has long been known -- Richard Reeves did a thorough job of chronicling the JFK drug-intake in his biography back in the last century -- but it's nice to have the specifics. In a way, it makes him even more of an impressive figure -- because he sure seemed on top of his game when he was LIU (leading under the influence).

Syracuse, N.Y.: The complex where Gore grew up was not a Ritz Carlton at the time -- it only became a Ritz Carlton decades later and after many upgrades. That Ritz Carlton tripe is straight out of the RNC talking points and was wrongly reported by our so-called liberal media.

Lloyd Grove: It was actually called the Fairfax Hotel, if memory serves. Now it's the Westin Fairfax, I think. The Jockey Club is in there.

Gaithersburg, Md.: Lloyd,
I notice in the bios posted above the chat columns that many of the Wash. Post reporters/columnists have been with TWP for many, many years, which is unusual these days in any profession. Is TWP a really good place to ply your trade, or what?

Lloyd Grove: If you're in the newspaper business, there are really only a few top places, and the Post is definitely one of them. Just like if you're in network news -- you really only have ABC, CBS and NBC (though Fox does have a solid Sunday newsmaker show).

Washington, D.C.: LLOYD:

Are you running a Part II of your Gore interview -- the part with any news at all in it?

Lloyd Grove: I'm so sorry you didn't find any serious news about the Gores in the gossip column.

Arlington, Va.: My parents stayed at the Fairfax Hotel where Gore grew up (and, I believe, one of his father's cousins owned it) and found it shabby genteel. Anyway, living in hotels isn't that bad since J. Edgar Hoover lived in the Mayflower for years as did a batch of Congressmen.

Lloyd Grove: Don't forget Eloise at the Plaza!

Washington, D.C.: Just wanted to let that idiot poster know that most THINKING people don't pick who to support politically based on the opinion of a fading radio talk-show host. Who cares what Rush thinks?

Lloyd Grove: 20 million listeners apparently.

New York Avenue: Gosh -- quite an adoring profile on the new BBC anchor. Guess I won't let the door hit me on my -ss!

Lloyd Grove: No need to worry. Just trying to keep you on your toes!

Annandale, Va.: Lloyd, what do you make of the tabloids and their stories about Chelsea Clinton's alleged drinking problem? Is it true, is she like Jenna Bush, or is it fabricated?

Lloyd Grove: I'm sure Chelsea has a drink now and then. I'm sure she has even gotten drunk. What 23-year-old hasn't?

Lloyd Rules!: Thanks for the clever response to the crack about asking for a part II to the Gore interview. That's why we luv ya, Lloyd!

Lloyd Grove: Thanks for calling my response clever. I thought it was merely sarcastic.

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd:

Isn't there supposed to be news in a gossip column?

Lloyd Grove: Yes, but of the people, human-interest variety. For instance, where else would you read about Gore getting weepy or expressing his willingness to wear a dress?

Re: CBS at the top: Actually, CBS just slid into the unbtrustworthy category for media followers. They have started offerring to produce Video News Releases (PR fluff) for clients, and in return have promised them air time for said spots.

Total loss of credibility in one simple business decision. We no longer know if CBS is showing us news or public relations videos from paying clients.

Bye, CBS!

Lloyd Grove: Is this written somewhere? If this is true, it's very sad.

Ballston, Va.: Washington man in dress- How about that wimpy guy in the bow tie on "Crossfire"?

Lloyd Grove: Tucker Carlson?
I think he'd do wonders for a beaded evening gown with a plunging neckline!

Camden, Mich.: Is the American mass media censored by the government or pressured by the government not to print the truth?

I read a disturbing article in the Digital Journalist by Pulizer Award winner Patrick Sloyan about reporters being punched, handcuffed and arrested, not for reporting anything top secret, just for trying to report. The article is called "What Bodies".

I have tried to bring attention to this article, which is so applicable to today's news coverage of the war in Afghanistan and the coming war in Iraq, to no avail

The only thing I can think is that there must be great pressure not to talk about the truth. I thought that's what reporters did.

Any light you can shine on this subject?

Lloyd Grove: I have not heard of too many examples -- except on occasion with local government officials -- where serious reporters have been physically intimidated in the good ol' U.S. of A. Every so often, somebody makes a threatening gesture at me, though.

Burke, Va.: I enjoyed the Gore column. Are any other politicians taking you to lunch? Maybe you could get a lot of lunches out of this.

Lloyd Grove: Not a bad idea. I think I should have a series of lunches with all the Democratic presidential contenders and their spouses next year.

Speaking of Tucker:: What the hell is up with his hair? Can he not afford a decent hair cut. He actually looks like someone trying to look like a geek.

Lloyd Grove: When you've got it, flaunt it -- and Tucker does have an enviable head of hair.

Washington, D.C.: Don't you mean the Jockey Club WAS in there?

Lloyd Grove: Isn't the restaurant (which may or may not be closed and about to reopen, I haven't been in a while)still called the Jockey Club?

New York Avenue: Do you have a TV hit this weekend?

Lloyd Grove: Yes. I think I'm on Fox News Channel sometime after the noon hour tomorrow, where once again I will be doing my impression of Al Gore.

Re: CBS: I found out about it at PR Watch's spin of the day (a good place for PR/spin info):


Lloyd Grove: And here's the item. Pretty distressing, if true. But the report below lacks the sort of specifics that would make it a slam dunk. I want to know more:

CBS Sells Fake TV News in VNR Venture
How low can TV "journalism" sink? For years CBS (and all the other networks) have run fake news stories in the form of Video News Releases (VNRs). But now, CBS is also in the business of creating, producing and distributing fake news! Every day phony TV news stories appear on TV networks and their affiliates. Viewers believe that they are watching real news reports, but are fooled into viewing VNRS produced by PR firms on behalf of their clients. Thousands of VNRS are produced and aired every year. TV news directors save money by filling air time with PR disguised as news. VNRs of course are slanted "news" stories, subtly biased to promote a product or idea in stealth fashion. VNRs constitute plagiarism and an unethical deception perpetrated by TV news directors upon viewers who mistakenly trust them. Now CBS has taken this outrage to a new level by entering the profitable business of selling, producing and distributing VNRs. A CBS Media Group advertisement in the current PR Week urges potential clients to hire CBS and "put one of the world's leading media companies to work for you" producing video news releases. CBS even guarantees "placement on the CBS Newspath VNR feed." Karen L. Kapnick, formerly an account manager with MediaLink, runs CBS's business of selling and distributing fake news.

New York Avenue: Great job headlining the Nathan's community luncheon, yesterday. You had the Georgetown ladies swooning.

Lloyd Grove: Now THAT's more like it!

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, I sent you an e-mail yesterday with a link to Pamela Anderson's wedding invitation. Why in the heck would guests be invited by, along with her mom and dad, Dow Corning, Milwaukee's Best (I wouldn't even touch that stuff in my college days), and a few other corporate sponsors? This just sounds way crazy.

Lloyd Grove: Well, I can certainly understand Dow Corning--which manufactures silicone breast implants.

15th and L: How do you like Yale's chances against mighty Harrrrrrvard in tomorrow's big game? And why aren't you going? What kind of alum are you anyway?

Lloyd Grove: I am a pretty disgraceful alum. But I will pick Yale. Boola Boola!

Washington, D.C.: you should host Saturday Night Live

Lloyd Grove: Yes, and I will as soon as the show goes to public access television!

Lloyd on FNC??: This serves to confirm my impression (from these chats) that you're a Republican - possibly the only one in "trendy" Adams-Morgan!

Lloyd Grove: Please.
All kinds of people go on all kinds of cable channels all the time -- observing Gore Vital admonition to "never give up the chance to have sex or go on television."

Washington: Re: Gore

There have been some pretty devastating reviews of the Gore book "Joined at the Heart" and its implication that family is less a nuclear than an accidental occurrence these days ... in your attempt to "interview" the Gores, did you by any chance cover any of this?

Lloyd Grove: I didn't ask them about reviews, but I did ask about their decision to include all these nontraditional 2 dad 2 mom multiple divorce blended families. Their answer: "That's what American families are like today."

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd:

Chelsea is not 23. (Where is that Barbara Martinez to keep you from embarrassing yourself!)

Lloyd Grove: How old is she, and why am I expected to keep track of her age? I have a hard enough time accepting my own.

Washington, D.C.: Why was President Clinton's medical records never revealed? Bush released his.

Lloyd Grove: I suppose there was something in there he didn't want out. Mara Liasson famously asked at a White House briefing if it was venereal disease and got a denial, but I suppose we will have to wait until the presidential archives puts something out -- probably after we're all dead.

Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, have you ever noticed that scotch tape has an oddly pleasant, sweet smell to it? Faint, but noticeable.

Lloyd Grove: No.
I can honestly tell you I have never noticed this.
Nor have I ever sniffed scotch tape.
Is this like sniffing glue? And do you require an intervention?

Washington, D.C.: How is the Michael Jordan paternity fiasco resonating in D.C. circles? Is this something that's bigger in Chicago because, well, Jordan WAS in Chicago for so many years, and he really isn't D.C?

Lloyd Grove: I have pretty much stayed away from it, because it does seem like a Chicago story, and despite his involvement in the Wizard's, Mr. Jordan has not been a huge presence on the Washington social scene.

Bethesda, Md.: So did Ari Fleischer "watch what he said and watch what he did" on his honeymoon? Thank God we live in the USA, not Havana!

Lloyd Grove: In my latest conversation with Ari, I discreetly drew a veil over questions such as that one.

Re: Kennedy on Drugs: Knowing that the president was shot up full of all sorts of painkillers is enlightening.

It helps explain, to me at least, some of the current president's attitude and behavior changes. Sometimes he is very slow and steady, other times he seems racey and forgetful. During the debates he was wiping his nose a lot like a coke addict, but maybe it was just the side effect of one of the medications HE is on.

So, how do we find out what is in W's bloodstream. Do we have to wait 30 years for revelation, or can we use the new Homeland Security Blanket Act to take a look at his medical records?

Lloyd Grove: Hmmmmm.
Might be wishful thinking on your part. He's pretty fit and famously doesn't drink. And, unlike his wife, doesn't smoke.
I suspect he might take a tylenol every so often.

Meanwhile ...: ...hundreds, even THOUSANDS, of slacking workers in Lloyd's chat are caught by their bosses sticking scotch tape under their noses ....

Lloyd Grove: I always wondered if I would grow up to make a difference!

Seattle, Wash.: Hey superstar,

When will Fox give you your own show? I hate having to monitor the networks constantly looking for your next appearance. I think a Lloyd Grove fan club needs to be founded immediately and the Post should apprise its readers of your TV schedule ... also give you a hefty raise for all the publicity you are bringing in worldwide!

Lloyd Grove: I'm sure the management here is enormously impressed. But tell you what, you get all that for me, I'll give you 10 percent!

Eighth Floor: Any feedback from the Wallaces on your CVS Christmas lights story? When you called for a quote, were they surprised that their shopping excursion had been called in?

Lloyd Grove: No feedback, but I happened to run into Chris and his face went ashen. Not really. He was very good-natured about it, and even spelled his wife's name for me and added some details.

Smoking in the White House: "And, unlike his wife, doesn't smoke. " Laura smokes?? I knew I didn't like her! What kind of role model is she?

Lloyd Grove: I'm afraid the evidence is overwhelming that despite grudging denials, has been known to bum a cigarette behind closed doors (and occasionally out in the open air).

Vienna, Va.: Re: Jordan. C'mon, a dog is a dog is a dog, and somebody that's doggin' like Mikey belongs in your column. So delicious!

Lloyd Grove: I will revisit the issue. Maybe have a conversation with my colleagues in Sports.

Long Beach, Calif.: On Marc Fisher's chat yesterday the WWII memorial was mentioned by someone as being HUGE. Marc called it a "monstrosity", and declared that Congress and the citizens of D.C. will be saddened after it's unveiling, and regretful for not standing up to this eyesore on the central axis of the mall. YOUR THOUGHTS?

Lloyd Grove: Unlike Marc, I have not perused the blueprints. Sounds like a fairly dire prediction though. There were a huge number of naysayers before the Vietnam memorial was installed -- Tom Wolfe called it "The Pit"--and two decades later it is a huge success.

Los Angeles, Calif.: Your thinly-veiled love-fest with Ann Coulter perplexes me. Are you a natural submissive, or is there something missing for us to figure out? Do you really read her books?

Lloyd Grove: Thank you so much for your interest!
Actually, I don't read Ann's books, but I do read the indexes. In the meantime, I must go. Have a great weekend and a safe and lovely Thanksgiving holiday, everyone. See you back here in two weeks. Same time same place. Bye.

washingtonpost.com: That wraps up today's show. Thanks to everyone who joined the discussion.

© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company