The FishbowlDC Interview With @DCjourno

In the just over three weeks he’s been tweeting, Washington has wondered about the identity of @DCjourno, who describes himself only as “an important political reporter in Washington.” The stinging parody account takes aim at Washington media, and the resemblance to real journalists is uncanny and to some, scary. “Just always a little too close to the bone,” said one reporter, relieved to have so far been spared mention. ABC’s Jake Tapper admitted there was a “subtle genius” to the account.

But others don’t think he’s genius at all. As one D.C. Editor put it, “Just read his stuff. An “important political reporter in Washington.” Bullshit. I’ll bet you my car nobody’s ever heard of this guy. Anyone who thinks [NJ‘s] Marc Ambinder is worth writing about can’t be over 23.” The journalist added, “It has a faux insider feel, like someone who watches too much Morning Joe.”

Some see a self-loathing. Still others just find him loathing. “I don’t give too much credence to people too chickensh*t to put their name behind something because, obviously, once we know who they are, we’ll soon realize that they’re just as douchy as the rest of us,” said a longtime Washington journalist. “Likely: Even more douchey.”

@DCjourno recently told the NYT, “Several of my followers still don’t understand that I’m a parody. They think I’m just a cool D.C. journalist, which really says it all.”

And it’s easy to see why he has some people fooled. Just like the journalists he mocks, he’s always speaking with “senior administration officials.” He suggests good people to follow, including WaPo‘s Ezra Klein (“Few understand health care better than Ezra,” he tweeted sarcastically) and Politico‘s Mike Allen (“Follow foreign policy guru @mikeallen for updates on Egypt. He’s tweeting from the frontlines in Rosslyn”). He always directs his followers to “must reads” and “smart takes.” In fact: “If anyone out there sees a tweet that i can re-tweet with “Interesting … ” in front of it, DM me!”

Tapper suggested his followers check out the stream to see what really went down at former White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs‘ farewell party. Apparently, “Gibbs telling the Mark Knoller/vodka-filled-plastic-guitar Vegas story.” Later: “Ambinder talking abt 19th century German philosophy. Gibbs goes, ‘Marc, we know you’re smarter than us. U gonna hit this jameson or not?'” And later still: “Alright, Vietor just challenged me to a dance off with your pants off. Zeleny is the judge. Have a good night, everyone.” Slate‘s Dave Weigel said that @DCjourno was “winning the evening” with his fake live-tweets.

The guessing game has grown more intense as @DCjourno’s follower count has risen, now to more than 3,000 people. CNN’s John King, USA producer Abby Livingston tweeted: “More ppl care about who is @dcjourno than who authored ‘o.'” ABC News’ Political Director Amy Walter agreed: “Ha. So true.”

Asked if he’s @DCJourno, The Daily Caller‘s Mike Riggs adamantly denied it to FishbowlDC, saying, “As much as DCJourno pretends to be in this world, but not of it, whoever’s writing those tweets cares deeply about Beltway culture and the assholes who maintain it. I don’t. Or at least, not enough to glorify its participants through caricature. I’m flattered that you think me even-tempered enough to maintain such a ruse, but I’m not your man, and I don’t know who is.”

@DCJourno wouldn’t give us any clues whatsoever about his identity, but did agree to an interview by e-mail. He wouldn’t, however, allow any follow-up questions. We tried to press him on a couple of things, but no such luck.

Are you actually a D.C. journalist, or more of an observer? I am an actual D.C. journalist, hence the Twitter handle, @DCjourno.

Why are you anonymous? Will you ever reveal yourself? I’m definitely not anonymous. Pretty much everyone in this town knows me now.

Are you a man or a woman? Man.

Find out what @DCJourno likes to do in his spare time and why he’s so looking forward to Tammy Haddad‘s garden brunch…

Why’d you start the account? Twitter is a good way to promote yourself, prop up your buddies, and degrade your competitors and less-talented colleagues.

Did you ever expect you’d become such a big hit? Did Barack Obama ever “expect” to become president? Maybe not, but it seems like it was inevitable now.

What’d you think of the NYT story? The one Mark Leibovich did about his Politico buddies last year? Well, you could tell Leibo was a bit jealous that he didn’t work for a more prestigious publication. Not all reporters are created equal, after all.

Who’s your mentor? Who inspires you? And which D.C. journalists are your favorites? Mark Halperin is a game-changer. He’s also the humblest journo I know and the most dogged in avoiding hyperbole and relying on anonymous sources who have obvious vendettas against the people they attack through his reporting. But Betsy Rothstein’s got to be my favorite. She’s taken some heat around here lately, but whenever I want to know what Dave Weigel’s doing with his free time or what the anonymous man sitting next to her at a restaurant is saying, I know exactly where to go.

What do you like to do in your spare time? Talk to my close friends on Twitter, mock tourists and fat people, dance to Top 40 music ironically at parties on U Street.

What’s your craziest D.C. story? I can’t reveal too many details here, but let’s just say it went down at Cap Lounge and involved Heye, JMart, Walsh, Stew, Madden, Vietor, Favs, Finkenbinder, Jake “Fast Break” Sherman, and a giant foam cowboy hat.

Favorite WHCD/#nerdprom related party? Tammy Haddad’s garden brunch, by a mile. All of my friends there are so low-key, and there’s never any forced conversation. Everyone is always complimenting each other on their work and accomplishments. It’s also just a really good place to take the pulse of what the smartest and most important people in the country are thinking about the momentous issues of our time. You can also get your picture taken with a Jonas Brother, or the cast of “Gossip Girl.”

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever told an editor? I prefer not to deal with editors because they’re usually older and ill-equipped to handle the nature of modern political reporting. But I recall clashing once with a former editor over my use of anonymous sources (all senior advisers, mind you) and I called him a “state house reporter” or “local news guy” or something horrible along those lines. Can’t really remember.

What do you have to read every morning? Other than Playbook? Probably Betsy Rothstein’s “Good Morning” link dump, which usually hits your site around 9 AM, roughly four hours after I wake up.

What are you working on now? A big story? A book about politics that you’re uniquely qualified to write? I’m actually pondering a transition from political blogging into national security reporting, so I have pitched a book on the recent Egypt crisis. Sort of a fly-on-the-wall account of what happened in the Situation Room as the high-stakes drama unfolded, seen through the eyes of Deputy National Security Adviser Denis McDonough and many others who sat down with me for interviews. But I do have a big political story popping soon that involves a prominent Republican possibly visiting Iowa, New Hampshire, or South Carolina.

What do you have to say to young D.C. journos aspiring to be you one day? Easy: DO NOT go to a small town paper to “learn the ropes” of political reporting or whatever. *Definitely* go to Georgetown or G.W. or American and just start blogging with an authoritative voice. Maybe a little bit of swagger. You’ll have a prominent perch at a major national news organization in no time.