Capitol File: From Name Dropping to Dropping Names

Niche Media CEO Jason Binn blew into Washington a year ago, launching a backslapping, name-dropping charm offensive to woo local VIPs for Capitol File, his new society glossy. But in the cutthroat world of social niceties, the brassy publisher has rubbed a few power brokers the wrong way.

Now there's nothing wrong with name-dropping (as we said to Angie Jolie and Timmy Russert just the other day), but it requires a light touch, especially in D.C. Binn first aggressively buttonholed Washingtonians for advice (AOL co-founder Jim Kimsey, lobbyist Juliana Glover Weiss, ABC's George Stephanopoulos), and then listed them as his "Advisory Board" on the mag's Web site this summer. Some of the "friends" complained. The board list quickly disappeared.

Then the first issue of Capitol File came out two weeks ago -- with an impressive list of "Contributing Editors" on the masthead. The implication, of course, was that all these fancy folk had signed up as an ongoing part of the magazine.

Uh, not so fast . . .

Rima Sabah, wife of Kuwaiti Ambassador Salem Sabah, gave permission for her picture and a quote to be used but was dismayed to find her name on the masthead. "As a diplomat, I cannot be affiliated with any specific publication," she said. "I don't want to play favorites." Bolivian Ambassador Jaime Aparicio had penned a short book review and thought that was that until he also found his name on the masthead; to make matters worse, his name appeared without his proper title (Protocol -- white courtesy phone!). NBC4 anchor Barbara Harrison thinks she might have returned one of Binn's many phone calls, but said: "I certainly never agreed to be a contributing editor. I'm just shocked they think they can get away with that."

Binn declined to comment, but Editor in Chief Kate Gibbs said: "We listed the names of all contributors, large and small, in the masthead of our debut issue. We hoped this inclusion would serve as a thank-you."

Thanks, but no thanks.

THIS JUST IN...

* Cheap jokes trump business tips in morning drive time: Starting Monday, the "Greaseman" (aka Doug Tracht) moves from WDMV (700 AM) to WMET (1160 AM), bumping local business expert Mark Bisnow's "Bisnow Live!"

SHOUTOUTS

"How you doing, Washington? It's always bee-u-tee-ful to be back. We have a bipartisan crowd. We have senators. We have congressmen. We have Harriet Miers! . . . She's had a busy week! She looked high. She looked low. In the morning, she looked in the mirror and said, 'Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest judge of all?' "

-- Mick Jagger, at MCI Center Monday, speculating on how the Supreme Court nominee got the nod. And no, she wasn't really there.

LOVE, ETC.

Special Celebrity Denial Issue!

* Not married: Beyonce, who denies a secret marriage to Jay-Z in a forthcoming interview with Vanity Fair. Well, duh, she's gotta say that, otherwise it's not secret!

* Not a new dad: Country singer Chris Cagle, who recently updated fans on the birth of a child he had been eagerly awaiting. "However," he wrote on his Web site, "we have discovered that biologically, the child is not mine." The Associated Press reports that the mother is a girlfriend of Cagle's; he's not married. His latest single: "Miss Me Baby."

Split Personalities?

Been feeling pressure to deliver you people some dish on Harriet Miers, the latest Supreme Court nom. But with every Serious Reporter in town scrambling over every square inch of her personal and professional life, it's been way too hard! So we'll just predict that Rachel Dratch is going to be busy the next couple of weeks on "Saturday Night Live" . . .

The Reliable Source appears Tuesday through Friday and on Sunday; its Web chat is at noon Wednesdays. Got a tip? Send it to reliablesource@washpost.com.