The FishbowlDC Interview With Advice Columnist Rebecca Gale


Say hello to CQ Roll Call‘s on call advice blogger Rebecca Gale. She writes the “Hill Navigator” advice column for those who want to better understand the ins and outs of Capitol Hill. As a former press secretary to the likes of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WVa.), Chris Carney (D-Pa.), Eliot Engel (D-N.Y.) and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) and several years now at CQ Roll Call, she’s intimately acquainted with her subject matter. The highly educated Gale went to undergrad at Miami of Ohio University and Johns Hopkins for grad school.  Royal baby news aside, one other piece of news about Gale: She’s expecting her first child, a boy, in mid-August. Already some nine months into her pregnancy, she will soon depart for maternity leave. Very soon, in fact. So let’s get this interview started.

If you were a carbonated beverage, which would you be? Perrier. In a glass bottle, not plastic.

How often do you Google yourself? Lately not often. I’m more likely to google “Hill Navigator”

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? I once told a book editor that something was “your problem, not mine” and he calmly responded by saying it was my name on the cover, so I’d better fix it.

You have an intriguing name. What is the story behind it? My parents like biblical names. And Gale is easy to spell. Not sure if that qualifies as intriguing, but it works for me. Coming up with a good name is much harder than it seems.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? There are some fantastic Roll Call alums out there–NPR’s Scott Montgomery and USA Today’s Paul Singer are two of my favorites.

Do you have a favorite word? Unlikely.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Kate Bolduan, CNN’s Chris Cuomo or CNN’s Michaela Perera? Tell us why. Whomever has better restaurant taste–I don’t follow CNN closely enough to discern who’d be the better conversationalist.

We understand you’re expecting a baby. With your husband. But the Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it by having another child after this one’s delivered. You will spend a romantic evening with “Morning Joe” regular Harold Ford Jr., Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer. Who will it be and why? (None is not an option.) Weiner. All he’d want to do is look at pictures.

What swear word do you use most often? Damn.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.) I’d include someone who can speak to the “real” issues in Washington, D.C.–the city–not just the political entity. Washington Post “Lunchline” author Clinton Yates comes to mind, as does Roll Call “After Dark” editor Jason Dick. Also Armando Trull from WAMU who is always reporting live from esoteric beltway locations. I’d make sure to include a Member of Congress who is not in the usual roundup of talk show suspects–they’d be more likely to say something interesting. The ones laden with talking points and platitudes say the same things over again. And one of my first guests would be my former boss, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee.

On a serious note for a moment, if you could have dinner with a person who has died, who would it be? Shel Silverstein, I’m sure he’d be fascinating.

Who is your favorite Boybander and why? (Ezzy, Hazy, Weigel, Attackerman, Beutler) I don’t have a favorite, though I probably read Wonkblog the most.

When you pig out what do you eat? Ice cream in a cone. Except there is not much ice cream in DC. It’s been replaced by frozen yogurt and gelato which are not at all the same thing. I also have a thing for overpriced produce from Whole Foods, including green grapes and Rainier cherries.

Breakfast cereal of choice: Oatmeal, steel cut.

Name of the hotel you stay in when you visit Manhattan? Chez Sarah Gale: my sister lives on the Upper West Side.

What is your absolute favorite item of clothing in your closet? We want the fabric, the brand, the store and the price if possible. If it’s a certain kind of underwear we don’t want to know about it. A pair of Cole Haan peep toe snakeskin heels. I wore these until month 9 of my pregnancy, when I resigned myself to flats.

Pick one: Mad Men, Scandal or The Newsroom. Mad Men. The others aren’t even plausible. At least Mad Men has the nostalgic value going for it.

Have you ever had a tarot card reading? Yep. And I’ve gone to acupuncture. And I go to yoga. New age all around.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? Thank goodness, no.

Ever been arrested? Again, thank goodness, no. My life is very clean on paper.

Tell us a secret not many people know about you. I never go to concerts. I get bored listening to live music.

What scares you? Plane rides. Though I take them all the time. Then I obsess over what happens when a plane crashes.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? Back as a Capitol Hill staffer, I stayed late for votes one night while my boss was off at an event. At the time, I was a big fan of The OC. There was a huge TV in the boss’ office, so I sprawled out on the couch to watch the latest on Seth Cohen, when the boss came back early through the private office entrance. I didn’t even try and make an excuse, I just apologized, turned the TV off and ran out of there.

Have you ever been fired? I don’t think so, but I think there is too much of an emphasis on “firing” as a terrible thing. To put my Hill Navigator hat on: sometimes jobs don’t work out. You can part on good terms as adults. The word “fired” should be rebranded.

Favorite Kardashian: North West. She’ll be a well dressed baby.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? Probably opening presents at my baby shower. My friends have some creative tastes.

When and why did you last lose your temper? Moving day, when I found out our car got towed.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? Aubrey Plaza. She makes all of her characters endearing.

From TMZ Founder Harvey Levin: You are about to be served your last meal. What will it be? The three-course “Maria’s Light Menu” from Fiola in downtown DC. Except I’d ask for a better dessert.

From Maynard Institute’s diversity news reporter Richard Prince: Best time you ever had with your clothes on? My wedding. Such a cliché answer, but it’s kind of a cliché question.

From our last interviewee, publicist and ex-journo Kate Brown: Over or under (toilet paper you pervs!) Really, a toilet paper question? (Rebecca said she had no preferences on the matter.)

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. This one may live on indefinitely. Make it good. If you had to choose one, would it be radio, cable news, or print journalism?