The Reliable Source
Hosted by Lloyd Grove
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, Dec. 13, 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: Good morning from Los Angeles. Taking a little business and pleasured mixed jaunt to the coast, and managed to bring my girlfriend's laptop, too. So let's have at it.
Washington, D.C.: I saw Norah O'Donnell at the Georgetown Patagonia over the Thanksgiving break. Exotic looking Irish girl.
Lloyd Grove: How nice for you!
Annapolis, Md.: Is it me, or is Connie Chung starting to look like an elderly raccoon? Caked on eye makeup gets old.
Lloyd Grove: It's probably you. But I did laugh out loud at that one.
What do you think the real reason for Oliva Fox's demise? And how much does a person in her profession who's in syndication make anyway? And have you heard what she was looking to make. I personally listen to the Russ Parr show ... but I think Olivia over the years really got to be full of herself. Give me Russ without Olivia any day. Your thoughts?
Lloyd Grove: I think she probably overplayed her hand in the contract negotiations. I don't know how much she makes other than to suggest that it's multiples of my own income.
Washington, D.C.: LG:
As a Democrat, can I give a shout out to Paul O'Neill -- a guy who ran a company which tried to follow workplace safety laws and had the guts to remind a senator of his KKK past. Apparently, it appears he should have called a few other senators out.
Lloyd Grove: He was probably the most gossip-column-worthy Treasury Secretary in decades, and I for one will miss him terribly.
Long Beach, Calif.: Am I alone in deciding that Catherine B. Reynolds is a clown? Curators are trained to do what they do, and she wants to step in with lame exhibits of her own, like showcasing Martha Stewart and Oprah as American icons? To say "Well, that's no more his museum than it's my museum" is akin to saying "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." I say leave your money at the door, get the front row if you must, but don't play "curator" when you have so little respect for that profession as to think you can pull into town and start dictating what is or is not worthy of exhibit at the Smithsonian. Your Thoughts, Lloyd?
Lloyd Grove: She does seem to have a certain Cathycentric weltanschaaung if I may use a word popular among snobby Smithsonian curators. Apparently she was mightily unhappy with the "60 Minutes" excerpts in this column yesterday, so maybe she and I will break bread together soon and come to the sort of understanding I so much enjoy and appreciate.
Capitol Hill: Why in God's name would that RNC flak not only push for 150K for a bad meal, but then sell it to the press? Did he not think he'd look silly?!
Lloyd Grove: I know that's the view among many of the Hill pros, but frankly I think he did so because he was at the end of his rope with the\Sutton Place folks and does seems to have suffered badly at (at least plausibly) their hands. A little more care and attention from Sutton Place would probably have prevented this public display of enmity.
Washington, D.C.: What is Irish soda bread?
Lloyd Grove: Big hunked crusty white bread, I believe. I wasn't at breakfast with Senator Barkley, but if I had been, I probably would have eaten 3 pieces, not the abstemious Barkley two.
Arlington, Va.: Lloyd, do you know what happened to Channel 7's weather person, Alexandra Steele? Apparently she is no longer with the station and she was a reason to wake up to see the 5 a.m. news.
Lloyd Grove: Lemme confer with the estimable John Maynard if I can reach him in D.C.
Manassas, Va.: While reading the Reliable Source this morning I was greatly upset to read The Exit Interview of Dean Barley. I guess what bothered me the most is I always thought the building housing members of the House and Senate were Federal Buildings -- If this is true, why are they allowed to smoke at their desk "the ability to smoke cigars at his desk", also how many of my tax dollars and the tax dollars of the American public go into stocking the fridge with Heinekens? What, they can't even drink an American Beer? I guess when you sit up on the hill you can make the laws that everyone else has to follow but you yourself are above it. I can't sit at my desk and smoke and drink unless I want to lose my job and pay a fine. The question I am asking is -- If you make the laws for the public -- does that now make you immune to them?
Lloyd Grove: Separation of powers, my friend. Congress is not subject to executive branch enforcement of the piddling laws it passes for the rest of us (at least in this regard.)
Washington, D.C.: NORAH O'Donnell? I'll take Kelly any day of the week.
Lloyd Grove: Why why why does it have to be a contest? I like 'em both.
Castle Shannon, Pa.: Do you think Trent Lott should resign because of the controversy at Strom's birthday celebration?
Lloyd Grove: It's starting to look that way. Not necessarily because of his stupid remark, but because the ensuing controversy might have rendered him politically ineffective as Senate majority leader and liability to the Republicans. But I don't see yet why he should give up his Senate seat.
15th and L: Re: Alexandra Steele, I think that doofus Elliot on DC101 was trying to get her to spill her guts regarding her dismissal, but I don't think she's talking to anyone.
Lloyd Grove: She would have to be insane to talk to THAT guy.
OK, I'll bite: Weltanschaaung?
Lloyd Grove: fancy germanic expression for worldview.
Dupont: Lloyd, you've got to give us an update, has Tom Davis (or is it Tom Reynolds now?)fired the NRCC spokesman trying to fleece Sutton Place?
Lloyd Grove: Not that I've heard out here in L.A. I'll check in on this roiling controversy when I return.
Jackson, Miss.: Everyone here in Mississippi loves Trent Lott. He's the only one who will stand up for the rights of the white people. He did it for Bob Jones University, he did it for the Council of Conservative Citizens, now he did it for Strom Thurmond. God bless Trent Lott.
Lloyd Grove: Do I detect a note of sarcasm?
Norah O'Donnell: Major hottie, she always looks kinda angry though.
What was she getting at the Patagonia?
Lloyd Grove: Norah, if you're listening, dish!
Penn Quarter: Hi Lloyd...any good dirt from all the celebs being in town last weekend for the KC Honors?
Lloyd Grove: Well, if I can take a little bow, Steve Martin test-marketed on me two jokes concerning Paul Simon--one about Art Garfunkel being in "an undisclosed location" and other about all Paul's "acrimonious splits." I advised him to go with the second joke, he did, it was a huge success and was even written up as such by the local rag.
Charlottesville, Va.: I used to really like watching Norah O'Donnell. She seemed smart and relaxed -- sort of the anti-Campbell Brown. Then I read an article about her picture-perfect life with hubby of Chef Geoff's.
Now I don't like her anymore.
Lloyd Grove: Can this relationship be saved?
East Lansing, Mich.: Already tired of the Lott politically incorrect statement ... and what he thought but really didn't say ...
But, a few years back he was interviewed about gay Americans and took the religious cover of the "sinful" nature of being gay. For me, that sealed his fate in my mind.
Usually, bigotry runs in streaks. Maybe he can be our new(t) cover boy for right extremism.
Lloyd Grove: I think he is not so much bigoted as culturally sheltered--odd in a man with such a wordly job.
Bethesda, Md.: I heard that when Norah O'Donnell was at the Hotline, she pulled off some outrageously self-promoting stunt. Taking a call from MSNBC for the editor of the Hotline, declaring herself the editor (she wasn't), then appearing live on MSNBC much to the shock of her Hotline colleagues, who were wondering where she was.
Lloyd Grove: Sounds like Norah is reaping some of the downside of success and celebrity this morning.
Washington, D.C.: Most congressional staffs I know have beer from their home states stocked in the fridge.
I need to cast another vote for the outgoing, enigmatic Paul O'Neill. I'll miss those trips to Africa with Bono. And yes, he was brutally honest in a town where few people are.
Lloyd Grove: I'll miss that striped African muu muu he wore.
Harrisburg, Pa.: Re: Connie Chung. CNN is slowly starting to look like skits from SNL. Particularly bizarre are Chung's Soprano imitations, but even worse, Bill Hemmer's interview with Jennifer Lopez.
Lloyd Grove: I will have to take your word for it since I don't have cable service except in hotel rooms and always fall asleep five minutes in SNL, which is past my bedtime.
Centerville, Va.: Weltanschaaung? Don't print that around those snooty Smithsonian types. It's weltanschauung. Or in the German, Weltanschauung.
Lloyd Grove: Ich bin ein dumkopf.
Washington, D.C.: Lloyd -- Gotta love Republicans who will sue when they think they've been wronged (e.g., vomiting over the food at Sutton Place Gourmet) but at the same time are huge advocates of tort reform so that the little guy can't sue. Hypocrisy? You be the judge!
Lloyd Grove: I actually did ask Mr. Schmidt if he has reversed his position on tort reform, and he just laughed.
Georgetown: Hey Lloyd, love the chats. Your piece on the guy from NRCC wanting $150,000 for food poisoning made me wonder, aren't Republicans opposed to frivolous lawsuits?
Lloyd Grove: I don't know if this would qualify as frivolous if the linkage can be established. He did have quite a rough time, after all.
Terrytown, USA: African Muu Muu? THAT made me laugh out loud. BTW- Is that the technical term for it?
Lloyd Grove: layman's language. technical term is beyond my capacity.
Virginia: So Laura Bush went to the National Children's Hospital. Hillary Clinton was too busy working to visit any of the patients the eight years she was the co-president.
Lloyd Grove: Something like that.
Washington: Hi Lloyd, long time listener, first time caller...
As a former Capitol Hill flack, I couldn't believe the story on the NRCC press secretary. Rule #1 for flacks is to not be the subject of the story, and it sure read like not only was he the subject, but the story was his idea. I can assure you that my boss would have thrown me out immediately.
But, I'm a Democrat, so it made me laugh. Especially seeking $150K. Not the sharpest tool in the shed!
Lloyd Grove: Your opinion is widely shared by your peers on both sides of the aisle.
Washington, D.C.: Any of your pals in Boston have suggestions on what Cardinal Law should do now?
Personally, I'd like to see him at a monastery making fruitcakes.
Lloyd Grove: LOL
Washington, D.C.: Jesse Jackson made fun of Jewish people. And he is safe. Sen. Byrd use the "n" word twice in an interview. So liberal Democrats are safe but not conservative Republicans?
Lloyd Grove: Jesse Jackson has a far different and more narrow constituency than Trent Lott (and Jesse did get a good share of opprobrium for that and other impolitic behavior), and Byrd got the tar whaled out of him for the crazy-stupid n-word remark, but he is the most powerful politician in West Virginia.
Dupont: Maybe Trent Lott ate some of the NRCC flack's tainted food and THAT'S the real reason Lott is on "vacation."
Lloyd Grove: Conspiracy theorist everywhere!
Washington, D.C. Marvin Hamlisch: Saw Marvin Hamlisch at my temple -- Washington Hebrew on Sunday night. He was invited to the KC honors but choose us instead. Guess we are the chosen people!
Lloyd Grove: Hmmm. I wonder, was there a speaking fee involved?
Washington, D.C.: "African muu muu' -- you provincial redneck. It's called a buba.
Lloyd Grove: Thanks bubba!
New York, N.Y.: "Virginia" needs to quit griping over Hillary Clinton unless he wants to move to New York. And if he does, he'll be more concerned with the transit strike than hospital visits.
Lloyd Grove: Yeah!
Stanton Park, D.C.: Lloyd,
You have to get your hair cut by Charlie at Hair by Charlie, 9th and East Capitol St. He cut hair in the Senate for 20 years, and now has a day job in the Supreme Court barber shop. Although it is more than the seven bucks 'do you are looking for, I'm sure you could claim those 15 bucks as a business expense. He dishes some pretty good dirt on senatorial haircuts, like the fact that some of them get their hair cut by the local guy back at their home states, and then come to Charlie to clean up the mess. I'm sure you get him to name names and reveal lots of crucial info to all Wash Post readers.
Lloyd Grove: I just might give him a try.
Re: Children's Hospital: Hillary never visited? My daughter was a cancer patient at Children's and I remember Hillary visiting. Maybe it's just chemo mom brain, but I think she was there.
Lloyd Grove: Thought so.
African muu muu::
Technical term: Dashiki pronounced dah-SHEE-kee
Lloyd Grove: Muchas gracias, monsieur!
Silver Spring, Md.:
I think Bob Levey is the one on the SUV smear campaign. Just read one of his chats, he all but admits it.
Lloyd Grove: Maybe he's just trying to throw the authorities off the scent.
Re: Steve Martin jokes: I was watching the video feed from the Concert Hall. Colin Powell roared at Steve's joke about Dubya asking for pirated Barbra recordings.
Lloyd Grove: Steve is great at these events.
Washington, D.C.: What do you know about Mary Matalin's resignation? Where is she going next?
Lloyd Grove: I have no reason to doubt today's report--speaking engagements and mothering duties.
Washington, D.C.: Irish soda bread is usually brownish -- made with buttermilk, and baking soda in place of some or all of the yeast. Sometimes has raisins.
Lloyd Grove: Raisins? Dunno if I would eat three slices then.
Just a suspicion: Lloyd, I don't think Jackson, Miss. was joking. Scary isn't it?
Lloyd Grove: If he wasn't joking, too bad. Sarcasm is sometimes a dicey enterprise on the printed page.
Arlington, Va.: "-Paul O'Neill] was probably the most gossip-column-worthy Treasury Secretary in decades."
Okay, I'll bite. Who was the last one? Alexander Hamilton? Speaking of Hamilton, don't you wish that our politicians still held duels?
Lloyd Grove: How old do you think I AM???
Hillary and Children's Hospitals: FYI...from the WH Web site and Women's International Center site...
"As First Lady of Arkansas, Hillary continued to work tirelessly on behalf of children and families. In addition to chairing the Arkansas Education Standards Committee, she founded the Arkansas Advocates for Children and Families. She introduced a pioneering program called Arkansas Home Instruction for Preschool Youth, which trained parents to work with their children in preschool preparedness and literacy. Hillary also served on the board of the Arkansas Children's Hospital. In recognition of her professional and personal accomplishments, Hillary was named Arkansas Woman of the Year in 1983 and Arkansas Mother of the Year in 1984."
A"s the nation's First Lady, Hillary continued to balance public service with private life. Her active role began in 1993 when the President asked her to chair the Task Force on National Health Care Reform. She continued to be a leading advocate for expanding health insurance coverage, ensuring children are properly immunized, and raising public awareness of health issues. She wrote a weekly newspaper column entitled "Talking It Over," which focused on her experiences as First Lady and her observations of women, children, and families she has met around the world. Her 1996 book It Takes a Village and Other Lessons Children Teach Us was a best seller, and she received a Grammy Award for her recording of it."
Nothing against the current First Lady, but Hillary was no slouch...
Lloyd Grove: I am happy to use this forum in the defense of Hillary!
Charlottesville, Va.: In your defense, Lloyd, I think when worn by Paul O'Neill the correct term is muu muu.
Lloyd Grove: Thanks for the support.
Fairfax, Va.: Oh please, Washington, D.C., don't go on about the press and its liberal bias. When Democrats used a recent funeral in Minnesota as a political event, it was all over the news and probably cost them the election. Most of the press is out for blood, regardless of political party.
Lloyd Grove: As the scorpion said to the frog, it's my nature.
Dummkopf spelled MM!: Two ms, Lloyd. You should stick to English.
So what about that Hax flap?
Lloyd Grove: Look, I have enough to trouble dealing with MY online detractors to take up the cudgel for Carolyn, who I must point out is more than capable of handling those nastygrams.
Ich bin ein dumkopf: OK, howzyour German: I heard that when JFK made his famous statement in Berlin, that he mangled his syntax (pre-GWB) - that when Germans refer to their city of origin, they don't use an article (e.g., "a", "an") - and that "ein Berliner" is actually the name for a yummy cream-filled pastry. So when JFK ringingly stated, Ich bin ein Berliner, he was saying something along the lines of "I am a donut" and the roar from the crowd was of laughter. (Hate to explode cherished myths!)
Lloyd Grove: I believe this was in Ben Bradlee's book "Conversation With Kennedy." Javohl?
Alexandria, Va.: Trent Lott isn't a racist. He's just stupid and lazy, relying on staff-prepared remarks without reading them first, and utterly unaware of how they would be received in public. I'd say the worst thing he's guilty of is having a tin ear for politics, which is reason enough for him to step aside as GOP Majority Leader.
Lloyd Grove: Not a bad analysis, though his ear can't always have been made of tin or he wouldn't have achieved high office.
Falls Church, Va: Is it any wonder that Tacky Tackopolous works for Pat Buchanan? Ugh. At least he's not Senate Majority Leader.
Lloyd Grove: Pat works for Taki.
G'town: I got food poisoning last summer. I missed two days work, so $150,000 should cover it (plus a week or two in Australia, a flat screen TV, Caps season tickets, and a new Corvette). Who can I sue? Can you recommend a good lawyer? I'm a Republican!
Lloyd Grove: I'm sure you will find an appropriate one advertised on 3 am TV.
Rockville, Md: Scientists have discovered the gene responsible for making boring people think they are funny. They have dubbed the discovery Gene Weingarten.
Lloyd Grove: Gene, you want to get in on this one?
(Need I say that I completely disagree? YEs!)
Fairfax, Va.: Sorry to be pedantic, but Heineken is from the Netherlands. I seeeeeem to recall that is what I learned at the Heineken museum, but there were lots of free samples and a couple of brain cells might have died.
Lloyd Grove: Be as pedantic as you want, you pedagogue you!
New York, N.Y.: Hey what have u heard about W. Bush not liking Larry Lindsey because he's a fat slob who does not work out and liking his replacement Mr. Friedman because he they could work out together? Thanks
Lloyd Grove: Well Bush hired Larry knowing all that. So it's probably better to say that Bush was looking for someone to blame and punish for the stalled economy, and Friedman will meet Lindsey's fate if things don't get better, hard body or not.
Hillary:: I'm the mother of the childhood cancer survivor. I appreciate Hillary and her battle for universal health care. We were scared "you know what"-less, that we would be downsized and we would lose our health care insurance. My greatest fear is that my 3-year-old daughter would die in horrible pain because we couldn't afford a painkiller. Try walking in those shoes Virginia. As it turned out, the Kennedy/Kassenbaum Health Care Portability Law took that worry away. Give me Hillary anyday.
Lloyd Grove: Well I wish your daughter the very best of health and life.
Wheaton, Md: Stop attacking the Great Bob Levey. Sure, his smear tactics may be questionable, but they worked. Yesterday the Bush administration required automakers to increase MPG on SUVs. You may not like it, but credit Levey for his victory.
Lloyd Grove: Go, Bob!
Trent Lott: I'm not sure what "culturally sheltered" means. Does that mean sheltered FROM culture? He is, definitely, diversally-challenged. I'm so very, very tired of self-righteous bigotry. but I guess he has his constituency, and of course they will get the best he has to give, regardless of what that might mean to the rest of the country.
Lloyd Grove: Oh well. By the way, Maynard says Alexandra Steele left the station at the end of November and she has yet to resurface. Hope she has her scuba gear!
Last Gossip Column Worthy Secy--: Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers
Great fodder for gossip. Miss him too.
Lloyd Grove: More post-office than in, though.
Hate to explode jelly donuts:
Linguist Jürgen Eichhoff, writing in the academic journal Monatshefte, confirms there was no flub on Kennedy's part. "'Ich bin ein Berliner' is not only correct," he writes, "but the one and only correct way of expressing in German what the President intended to say."
An actual resident of Berlin would say, in proper German, "Ich bin Berliner." But that wouldn't have been the correct thing for Kennedy to say. The indefinite article "ein" is added to a statement like this, explains Eichhoff, to suggest a metaphorical identification between subject and predicate. In fact, "ein" is required in a sentence such as this unless the speaker wants to be taken literally.
Lloyd Grove: I am so proud of the intellectual quality of my forum!
The Big Top: Stop by and see Diane Keaton's exhibit of bad clown paintings at the Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica's Bergamont Station if at all possible. It's entitled "1000 clowns". Cheers
Lloyd Grove: Thanks for the tip.
Sounds almost irresistible.
Washington, D.C.: Last week, someone asked about who dined with Ron Silver. It was CIA director Tenet. Ron Silver played a CIA director on TV.
Lloyd Grove: And Ron is also very pro-war on Iraq.
K Street: Lloyd - still like my idea of pairing the socially discriminated Catherine Reynolds with Lynda Carter (a/k/a WONDER WOMAN) to commiserate about the difficulty in finding good servants (and museum directors) in D.C.
Du bist ein Jelly Donut?
Lloyd Grove: Sounds like the basis for a promising sitcom pilot.
20515: You think Connie Chung looks odd? Has anyone else noticed the odd shade of orange that John King is sporting on his face?
Lloyd Grove: You sure it's not your set?
Washington, D.C.: Lloyd, have you returned to Bistro du Coin recently? What was the dust-up you had with the owners? Memo to Lloyd: Adams Morgan is no longer trendy, it's just filled with identically dressed people on cell phones who think it is. Word to your momma.
Lloyd Grove: I'm afraid I'm unfamiliar with the place to which you refer. As for Adams Morgan, sounds like a textbook description of "trendy."
Elsie: You dooffusses - it's MOO MOO !
Lloyd Grove: I was afraid it would come to this.
Washington, D.C.: Obvious but unasked question about Trent Lott: why is he getting all the nettles when Strom is was the one who PRACTICED racism? So Strom mellowed after decades. All those deactivated Nazis in Spandau didn't get a pass, nor do those Nazis who turn up as auto workers under false names. Do tell.
Lloyd Grove: Hitting the Big Hundred covers a lot of sins. And, to be fair, Strom did move with the times, and these days probably would not even acknowledge (or remember?) the segregationist nature of his presidential candidacy, let alone defend it.
Somewhere, USA: "I think he is not so much bigoted as culturally sheltered--odd in a man with such a wordly job." Don't make excuses for the man. Call a spade a spade, and this one is a bigot.
Lloyd Grove: fine.
Mimi: The correct plural of "doofus" is "doofi."
Lloyd Grove: fine.
Kensington, Md.: I say, at 7 p.m. (Eastern, Lloyd) we all raise a "Heinie" to the Dean of the Senate!
Lloyd Grove: If I can remember, I will join you in spirit.
Austin, Tex.: So, which statement would be correct for Trent Lott to say: "Ich bin ein bigot" or "Ich bin bigot"? Just grabbing on to the
coattails of that intellectual...
Lloyd Grove: This will have to wait till next Friday, when I will be back in Washington and right here, same time same place. Have a great weekend, and see y'all then. Bye.
© Copyright 2002 The Washington Post Company