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Joe Keenan, longtime director of the Senate Press Daily Gallery has retired after 35 years.
Keenan got his start in the Gallery at a time when journalists clacked away on typewriters and phone booths were reporters’ way of communicating with their editors.
“I wasn’t there for the change from cave paintings to papyrus but have been there for everything else,” Keenan said, adding that the thing he’ll miss most are the reporters. His last official day was April 30, but he’s been around since, tying up odds and ends.
Carl Hulse, Washington editor of the New York Times and a journalist who has known Keenan since 1985, when he received his first Senate press credential, said Keenan’s institutional memory and sense of humor will be missed.
“Joe just knows how everything works or is supposed to work, so when things go wrong, he knows how to resolve them,” Hulse said.
When Hulse served on the standing committee of correspondents for the gallery, which helps determine which outlets get credentials, he said Keenan showed a reporter’s instinct in making sure the outlets were legitimate and worthy of press passes.
“We had to deal with ... who was going to be credentialed, and he was smart about it,” Hulse said. “He saw how things were changing, and he really went and said, ‘Hey, who are these guys?’ And some of them were ... very shady.”
Jim Manley, who spent 21 years as a spokesman in the Senate for Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and former Democratic Sens. George Mitchell of Maine and Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, said Keenan was always a good resource to go to for advice on how to get as much media coverage as possible.
“Joe provided advice on when to do a press conference, where to do a press conference, and often times helped to corral reporters to actually go to the event, especially when I worked for Sen. Reid and I needed to get the word out quickly on breaking news,” said Manley, now senior director at QGA Public Affairs.
Memorial Service Planned for Ex-Rep. Bob Edgar
A public memorial service for the late Rep. Bob Edgar, D-Pa., will be held Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Edgar, a minister who spent 12 years in Congress crusading against “pork barrel” legislation and fighting for better mental-health care for veterans, died April 23 at his home in Burke, Va., at the age of 69.
Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, who served with Edgar in the House, will speak at the ceremony, along with former Labor Secretary Robert Reich, the national governing board chairman of Common Cause, the nonprofit advocacy group Edgar was president of at the time of his death.