The hallway that houses the Pentagon’s top public affairs officials has always been a pretty low-key and, for the Pentagon, inexpensive affair. There were cheaply framed copies of old newspaper front pages marking big events: the start of the Persian Gulf War, the end of World War II. A handful of magazine covers featured shots of past defense secretaries. There were some old black-and-white photos of war correspondents in far-flung locales.
Loop fans might recall that the area, once proudly labeled “Correspondents Corridor,” is in the midst of a big upgrade — and now we have the details on what this will cost.
Our colleague Greg Jaffe reports that the Pentagon has spent about $75,000 and plans to shell out an additional $15,000 to spruce up the hallway — and, in the process, honor not just journalists, but also the Pentagon’s message massagers.
“The updated corridor will pay tribute to the department’s public affairs mission and to journalists — including those who have been killed in the line of duty,” said Pentagon spokesman George Little. “Many hallways in the Pentagon tell the stories and history of the incredible men and women who serve in the U.S. military. It’s appropriate to honor public affairs officers and reporters who tell those stories beyond the Pentagon.”
So what does $90,000 in hallway decoration buy these days? A large backlit reproduction of the New York Times’ front page marking the killing of Osama bin Laden. Wall-mounted exhibits that show the different media the Pentagon uses to get out its message: print, television, photography and social media.
And there are subtle paeans to the Pentagon’s massive public affairs force. “The growing power of technology significantly expanded the traditional 9 to 5 operations of military public affairs officers,” one exhibit reads.
Pentagon officials insist the corridor is a work in process. They plan to add a small screen with the names of correspondents killed in the line of duty. Perhaps pictures of legendary journalists from the past, including a shot of Walter Cronkite and Andy Rooney in uniform during World War II.
“How do you have a wall without Walter Cronkite on it?” asked Army Lt. Col. Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman involved in the redecorating.
The reporters, who occupy a small warren of cubicles about 30 yards from the fancy new corridor, have also done a little bit of lower-cost redecorating, taping up a piece of paper with the words “Korresponts Koreedoor” on the wall by the door.
What do this election cycle’s most watched presidential advertisements have in common?
Of course, many of them feature grainy black-and-white images of the other guy and ominous voice-overs. Plenty of factory workers in hard hats. And there’s the “and I approved this message” line that we’ve all heard a few times too many.
But there’s another common theme among the most-aired advertisements: the Clintons.
Of the 20 top ads (10 from each campaign), four of them feature a Clinton. Two of GOP candidate Mitt Romney’s ads show Hillary Rodham Clinton, while two of President Obama’s star Bill.
Obama employs the former president in two ads, “Clear Choice” (“We need to keep going with his plan,” Clinton intones) and “Forward” (in which the former prez slams Republicans: “They want to go back to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place”).
Romney, for his part, used footage of Hillary Clinton from her failed campaign against Obama for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. Two of his ads, “Shame on You” and “No Evidence,” use a clip from the primary race in which Clinton wags her finger at Obama for a recent attack. “Shame on you, Barack Obama,” she chides.
The appeal of both is obvious. Bill Clinton is a powerful surrogate for Obama, a reminder of a Democrat presiding over a flush economy — and he’s popular and thought to play well in swing states. And that footage of Hillary Clinton chastising Obama exploits the old rivalry between the two former competitors.
So there might not be a Clinton on the ticket (perhaps we’ll have to wait for 2016 for that), but they’re still all over presidential politics.
Tommy Thompson took a lot of guff last week for misstating the number of homes he owns. “Three,” the Republican Senate candidate in Wisconsin blithely informed an inquiring reporter. He was remembering, apparently, his family farm, the house in Madison and the getaway near Walt Disney World Resort — but momentarily forgot that sweet condo he owns off Lake Wisconsin.
He should be forgiven, we think, because it’s not a farm or a stately manse, just a measly condo (though it is assessed at the fairly memorable figure of $1.4 million). Mostly, his confusion could stem from the fact that during his tenure in Washington, the former Health and Human Services secretary was something of a house flipper. Loop fans might recall that back in 2004, we brought you the story of how Thompson had bought and sold a series of condos — mostly two-bed/two-bath numbers in Alexandria’s Cameron Station area — and made a pretty neat profit at it.
For a guy like that, properties come, they go . . .
Last week’s quote of the week: State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was being pummeled at Thursday’s briefing by reporters dissatisfied with the Obama administration’s ever-shifting versions of the killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens.
“Look,” she explained, “I’m generally dumber than most of the rest of the government. I mean, that’s what I’m paid to be.”
The reporters laughed.
Finally, a government spokesman fesses up?
With Emily Heil