Bob Edwards, Condensed in In Vanity Fair
An e-mail arrived the other day from a National Public Radio source with the subject line "Bob Edwards is not a midget." Naturally, our curiosity was piqued. Former "Morning Edition" host Edwards may have shrunk in professional stature since being dethroned, but no one questions that he's still a giant in the field. And, physically, he stands 6 feet 4.
So what's up? Edwards, it turns out, answered the "Proust Questionnaire" for August's Vanity Fair, submitting responses in longhand. One question was: "What do you dislike most about your appearance?" He wrote: "I am 57 -- take your pick." He meant 57 years old, but the mag published the response as "I am five feet seven inches -- take your pick," prompting amusement, chatter and puzzlement among his colleagues. "One 'Morning Edition' staffer thought it was a dirty reference," an NPR insider told us. (We'll prefer to remain confused about that comment.)
"People thought I was an idiot," Edwards told us yesterday. "People thought I was just jivin' the interview. And people might think I'm making fun of people who are not 6-4."
Phoning from Charlotte, a stop on his 52-city book tour -- during which he's also meeting with public radio donors and has raised $1.2 million -- a weary-sounding Edwards said he was "absolutely not" making light of shorter people. "Fifty-seven-year-olds, maybe."
Said a Vanity Fair spokeswoman: "We will definitely be running a correction."
But the bigger question to us: Is 5 feet 7 considered short? Just asking. Nothing personal at all.
P. Diddy's Got a Brand-New Beat
* Sean "P. Diddy" Combs launched a voter-turnout campaign yesterday in a push to make politics sexy and fashionable among minorities and young folks. It's called Citizen Change, a ho-hum name that doesn't exactly validate Mr. Diddy's bad-boy image. No wonder the stylin' item among activists who attended his New York media event, complete with DJ and flashing lights, was his new T-shirt bearing a more direct command: "Vote or Die."
Vowing to use his "God-given talents" as a marketer, hip-hop impresario and fashion trendsetter, Combs has assembled a team of strategists, most with ties to the Democratic Party, including James Carville, to roll out the campaign. The Post's Michelle Garcia reports that Combs's "coalition of the willing" includes Mary J. Blige, Jay-Z, Ellen DeGeneres and Mariah Carey, who will make TV appearances. Combs wouldn't reveal how much the effort will cost, but said, "It's a lot more than I thought."
He also issued a plea for Republicans to join the nonpartisan campaign, saying RNC Chairman Ed Gillespie has expressed interest. "We have the power to make things cool, hot and sexy, from the clothes we wear to the bling we buy," Combs told the crowded auditorium. And politics is no different, P. Diddy declared. (Except politicians rarely say "bling.")
Tom Daschle, Cold? The Iceman Comments.
* Reporters naturally wanted to know yesterday what Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) thought of Robert Novak's declaration in his Monday column: "Republicans who must deal with Daschle regard him as one of the coldest men they have met in politics, who truly subscribes to the Kennedy clan's axiom of 'Don't get mad, get even.' "
"I don't have any comment on that," the Senate minority leader told Public Radio International's Chad Pergram. "I don't know whether it's accurate or not. I don't think I'm that cold, personally. I'm offended that he'd think I was a cold character. . . . I'm going to have to call Bob and send him a fuzzy, some sort of a warm and fuzzy present. I don't know what. Loosen up, Bob. Get a life." So much for not commenting!
* Can the freak show get any freakier? It will if there's any truth to what the "Hot Stuff" column of Us Weekly is reporting in the issue hitting newsstands. Citing unnamed sources, the magazine says Michael Jackson "is about to become a father of quadruplets -- thanks to a woman who will be his surrogate." The mom carrying the Jackson Four, according to the mag, spent time recently with MJ in Florida. A lawyer who works for the Jackson family, Brian Oxman, told The Washington Post that Michael is not expecting. "It's not true," Oxman says, "and we're not going to comment on stories of this nature." Except to say it's not true.
* Campaign newbies Jenna and Barbara Bush will host their own Web chat at GeorgeWBush.com Friday in the prime-time slot of 5:30 p.m. So you, too, can ask the first daughters what it's like to be on the trail for their dad, to attend college in the spotlight and, most important, if they've ever had keggers in the White House.
* And this intriguing quote from President Bush in Iowa yesterday: "There are a lot of Johns in this country who have their own business." (Talking with small businessman John Bloomhall.)
With Anne Schroeder