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Axios the Wrong Questions
Dianne is not Fein.
Yesterday Slate conducted a quick interview with 89-year-old Senator Dianne Feinstein, in which she didn’t seem to understand she’d been missing from the Senate for several weeks.
Dianne Feinstein has not “been here” nor has she “been voting,” which is a problem, obviously.
But here’s my followup question: How is it that the person to conduct this interview works at Slate and not one of the 15 Identical Beltway Newsletters that claim to bring you Inside the Halls of Power?
Let’s say you are Axios or POLITICO or Punchbowl News.
You publish 80 newsletters a day about your unprecedented, up-to-the-minute access to the most powerful people in America.
You blast out a text message to a million followers every time Kevin McCarthy winks in your direction. It is an all-caps four 🚨🚨🚨🚨 emoji alert when Rep. Chip Roy indicates he might vote to subpoena the Undersecretary of Agriculture.
How did you get scooped on a Senator being mentally incapacitated by Slate, a general interest magazine?
This is like if James Harden got traded and it was first reported by Us Weekly. What are you doing with all your access?
Your reporters are up in the Capitol building like a proctologist’s finger in an asshole. How did they miss out on this one?
One obvious answer is that it’s not flattering to the entire brand, which is that Washington D.C. is full of Important and Powerful Men and Women conducting Serious Business and Taking on the Tough Issues and generally Being Sorkin-esque.
Another answer is that the portion of D.C. Media whose newsletters are underwritten by Northrop Grumman won’t publish anything that would lose them access or, more importantly, hurt the feelings of the Dianne Feinstein Comms Director who might one day represent a Senator they’d want to invite to Axios PowerCon 2027, all-access passes starting at $499.
Slate’s reporter Jim Newell asked questions that made Dianne Feinstein look bad. Here’s ex-POLITICO Playbook writer and current Punchbowl News editor-in-chief Jake Sherman interviewing Elise Stefanik at a Punchbowl event earlier this year:
You have scored an interview with Elise Stefanik — a key ally of Donald Trump, whose insanity on January 6th had you, Jake Sherman, fearing for your life. And you’re asking her whether she likes honey mustard or ketchup with her chicken tendies? Why?
Bonus points: March 20, 2023 happens to be the day it was revealed that Donald Trump was about to get indicted to campaign finance crimes related to covering up an affair with a pornstar for which his lawyer went to prison.
How did “What is your favorite food in the Capitol?” make the question list? Do you think maybe you could have cut that one to focus more heavily on how Elise Stefanik is still supporting the demagogue that put your life in danger?
Obviously, none of that is very profitable. If you asked those questions, Elise Stefanik probably would not text you live updates from the Republican Caucus Meetings anymore. Perhaps Rep. Nancy Mace drops out of your upcoming exclusive interview “about innovative approaches to job creation” sponsored by Google.
But like… you might break some news? I mean actually Break News, not “Kevin McCarthy wants this leaked to the press so he’s choosing POLITICO because you are nice to him.”
Anyway, it’s not all negative. Congratulations to Slate (and also the LA Times) for publishing something unflattering about a Politician. If only Northrop Grumman valued that kind of reporting.
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