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Pity the Carolina delegation reporters, who have to deal with a bunch of hard-nosed press secretaries. And maybe pity the North and South Carolina press secretaries, who are forced to grapple with a passel of snotty reporters.
One North Carolina reporter, Tim Funk of the Charlotte Observer, sent an e-mail to North and South Carolina delegation press secretaries last week seeking detailed and specific information on the gender, race and ethnic breakdowns of each Member’s staff. He explained that the information would be used for a story in his paper, “complete with a chart,” to run in mid-August.
“Readers pay my salary and, as taxpayers, they fund congressional offices,” Funk wrote. “I’m just trying to give them the information they want and deserve.”
That tone struck a bad chord with some of the press secretaries who received the e-mail, including Andy Polk, the spokesman for Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.). Polk fired off an e-mail to Funk saying:
“As our offices subscribe to the Charlotte Observer, and thus pay your salary, and you are a taxpayer, and pay our salary, I propose a trade.
“I will gladly give you the sex/racial breakdown of our office if you would give me the political breakdown of all Charlotte Observer reporters.
“Please list the reporter’s names, what they cover, and what their affiliation is (Democrat, Republican, or Unaffiliated).”
Just as Funk asked for specific information on the gender, racial and ethnic breakdown of top staffers, Polk requested specifics on the top Observer editors’ political affiliations. “I like your idea about having a chart. ... We too will do one,” he wrote.
Unintentionally or not, Polk sent the e-mail “reply all,” which has kept the gadflies in the Carolina offices laughing for days. Polk told HOH that his e-mail to the Observer reporter was “just a playful way to make the point that we wish they’d focus on more of the hard work we’re doing in Congress.”
Playful or not, Polk is not going to give the Observer the information it wants. “If he trades me the information I asked for, I’ll be glad to,” the hard-line press secretary said.
For his part, Funk told HOH his newspaper will most certainly not be sending Myrick’s office personal information on its reporters’ and editors’ political persuasions. For that, the Carolina lawmakers will just have to keep on guessing.
Let Moderation Be Your Guide. Is a certain soft drink making Sen. Mark Dayton (D-Minn.) and his staff jittery?
Someone, or many people, in Dayton’s office are guzzling Diet Coke by the caseload, and HOH is worried. So is Dayton’s office manager, Kristen Gentile, who sent an e-mail on Tuesday to everyone in the office, including the Senator himself, with the eerie two-word subject line: Diet Coke.