I had seen an ad for a Politico Playbook Breakfast in an issue of Politico I’d picked up. Given that no admission price was mentioned I thought it would be a good way to spend a morning. I turned up at the Newseum at 7.45am. Everyone else going in was wearing a suit. I had a t-shirt, shorts, and nuclear-powered sneakers. One of the women at the entry asked me if I had a reservation.
“Ok – do you have a business card?”
“Er . . . this is the closest thing I have,” and showed her my army ID.
“Okaaaay . . . sign in here.”
Success! I went up to their studio on the 3rd floor. Corporate hospitality! Thank you, Bank of America!
Their chief White House correspondent, Mike Allen, came our before recording and introduced himself to everyone, including me (fortunately between danishes at that point).
I think everyone else in the audience was a either a journalist, intern, or politics student. He interviewed a Tea Party aligned Republican senator, Marco Rubio. He put the success of the Tea Party down to it being a grassroots movement without any central organisation or leadership. He also thinks the US should give more foreign aid for 3 reasons: because the US has invested retirement funds overseas, so they have an interest in those governments; for soft power; and because the US has been more blessed than any country in the world and has a duty to share that. He goes to church daily. You can see the interview here. (They do not show the audience).
The interview lasted an hour, and then (after passing by corporate hospitality again) found myself in the Newseum. Normally entry is $21.99+tax. An attendant walked towards me. Crap!
“Don’t forget to visit the 4-D theatre! It’s 15 minutes of fun!”
Success!! But I hid out in the video viewing section for a bit until the heat was off.
The Newseum is devoted to journalism and news. It’s very modern and looks designed for school groups. It’s also heavily sponsored so I do question their editorial independence! They have some good videos running that give an overview of bias, sources, and errors.
They had an exhibition about the FBI, but it wasn’t clear if it was about news reporting or the FBI itself. They had some random artefacts, like the Unabomber’s cabin.
After that I went to U-street. It’s supposed to be a vibrant black neighbourhood. They have some interesting shops, but everything seems to shut on a Monday (or whatever day it was when I visited).
I headed to Arlington.
There are many famous people buried here, but I only wanted to visit one place.
They march on a padded surface. Smart! The drill was sharp, if American.
I had a look around the monumental area. The Washington Monument was closed due to earthquake damage.
After that I headed back to U-street for a book launch – The Tanning of America. It was about how hip-hop culture had become mainstream and marketable. The room was packed and there were 2 Caucasians in the audience. The author attributed the success of hip hop to the universal appeal of songs about coming up from nothing. All very romantic but my students all like it because of the universal appeal of sex, guns and drugs.