The FishbowlDC Interview with Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody

Say hello to Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody. He’s a political reporter covering the 2012 presidential race. He has traveled to 20 countries, and before covering politics, he worked as a commercial fisherman in Alaska. Moody is currently finishing his Master’s degree in Government at Johns Hopkins University and he lives in Washington, D.C.

Moody grew up in Southern California. He spent his childhood in LA and his teenage years in San Diego.

As he explains his adult life until now, “During and after college I spent a long time hitching/backpacking around Asia, parts of Central America, Europe and the Western US and then came to DC after I got my fill. Showed up in DC with a suitcase and slept on a friend’s couch while I looked for a job. Got some freelance work here and there and then was hired to run the social media program for a think tank. After two years, I got my chance at The Daily Caller covering Congress.”

We’ll share just one item from his bucket list: “There’s a trail through the jungle between Myanmar and Thailand that is known for smuggling refugees out of the totalitarian country. I’d like to spend some time with them.” Read on.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Any kind as long as it’s preceded by a mouthful of Pop Rocks.

How often do you Google yourself? Um, hello, I use Yahoo!, obviously…

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? So sorry, but I gotta divide this one up: For long-form features I think Reason’s Mike Riggs and National Review’s Bob Costa are doing sensational work. ABC’s Jake Tapper is reinventing what it means to be a national TV reporter in the new media environment, and Slate’s David Weigel deserves serious props for his ability to masterfully explain What It All Means on a consistent basis.

Do you have a favorite word? churlish.

What word or phrase do you overuse? I may have dropped “dude” outside the Senate chamber during interviews with members a few times.

Who would you rather have dinner with – CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, The Daily
Caller’s Michelle Fields or NBC’s Tom Brokaw. Tell us why. Brokaw. He’s been in the game the longest, and I think he would have some fascinating stories to tell.

What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had while on the campaign trail and who was it with? Well, RuPaul and I shared a moment in New Hampshire this week that was generally fabulous.

Tell us a funny story from the road. Can be long or short. After police kicked me out of a fancy hotel in Palm Beach for trying to cover Herman Cain a few months ago, I drove up to Orlando to try my luck there and spent a day at a place called The Holy Land Experience, where he was giving a speech. It’s near Disney World, and they re-enact the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ daily. Cain spoke immediately after Jesus returned to take back the faithful in a cloud of glory. It was, by far, the best campaign event of the cycle to date.

What’s the most revolting thing you’ve eaten in your campaign travels? And the best? The worst: Any time you’re scarfing down fast food at midnight because you haven’t eaten anything all day, you feel a pretty standard sense of shame. The best: On New Years Eve in Des Moines–that hotspot of revelry and bacchanalia–a bunch of reporters and I enjoyed some of the best steak I’ve ever had. It was pricey, but worth it.

Which candidate would you most like to fight with? Break bread with? Go jogging with? Fight: If I had to choose, I’d fight Buddy Roemer, but it would be a friendly match with the pretense of mutual respect. The guy’s intense. He could totally throw down and it would be awesome. Eat: I’d break bread with Gary Johnson, because it is assumed that our senses would be heightened at the time. Run: This is an easy one, but I’d jog with Rick Perry so we could shoot stuff with guns.

Based on what you know so far, who gets the nomination? The master overlords haven’t sent me my marching orders yet. But I should get them next Wednesday.

Which campaign staff has been the most pleasant to deal with? Newtmann Caingrich’s people are pretty chill.

Without naming names, tell us some shitty thing that has happened in the
course of your coverage. Every time you don’t call a reporter back, a beautiful fairy dies a horrible death. Just saying.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? 4 minutes and 33 seconds, by John Cage.

It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do
you check your BlackBerry? Sadly, yes. (WHAT IF SOMEONE TWEETED TO ME???)

What word do you routinely misspell? teh.

What swear word do you use most often? After hanging out with Rick Santorum for a while, I’ve become partial to “horsey-assy,” although I’m still not sure if it’s meant as a cuss word.

Moody’s most embarrassing work experience involves Rep. Barney Frank. You don’t want to miss this one…
If you weren’t a journalist what would you be? I’d open a bookstore/coffee shop/hostel somewhere in Asia.

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.) TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, HuffPo’s Arthur Delaney, Roll Call’s Neda Semnani and Robert Stacy McCain. That ought to keep things lively for a while.

When you pig out what do you eat? I have a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles-esque affinity for pizza, which shall ultimately be my downfall.

If you could influence journalism in one way right now what would it be? Less pack-oriented. A lot of times we’re so scared to say something that strays from the conventional wisdom that we keep it to ourselves. A little more free expression would go a long way, especially in Washington journalism. I also think The Atlantic’s Conor Friedersdorf is really on to something when he says journalists should stop pretending they’re not human.

When did you last cry and why? I wept the night Christopher Hitchens died.

What TV show is your guilty pleasure? Pawn Stars.

What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? I spent some time in the Nepalese Himalayas after volunteering with Mother Teresa’s mission in Kolkata after college. It was a much-needed time of self-reflection after working in what was basically a hospice for the city’s poorest, an experience that changed my life.

Pick one: Kim, Khloe or Kourtney? I have no idea what this question is about.

Have you ever had a near-death experience? Where do I begin? I once got in a face-off in with an albino cobra while I was by myself in rural China (Pro tip: don’t kick snakes while they’re sleeping to see if they’re alive…); my boat nearly flipped during a storm while I was working on commercial fishing crew in Alaska; I once got my leash stuck on the reef while surfing Bonzai Pipeline that took me under for a good while.

Ever been arrested? Nah, but I did just got my first speeding ticket a few weeks ago…

Tell us a secret not many people know about you. I’m color blind, so whenever I describe color in a story, I always double check with someone else to make sure it’s correct. Also, I have no idea what this says.

What scares you? Getting emails from Betsy with the subject line, “Hey, can I talk to you?”

Who is your mentor? Whenever I need advice or guidance, the first person I turn to is Terry Mattingly, my former professor and a veteran Scripps-Howard News columnist. He is responsible for lighting the spark that brought me to journalism and helped me find my passion.

What and where was your first job in journalism? I filled out the obituary forms for the Palm Beach Post, a job that kept me very busy because Florida is where lots of people go to die.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment? I was on a conference call with Barney Frank and several other reporters–this is how most great stories begin, after all–and when it came time for my question, I completely forgot what I had planned to ask him. I paused for about 5 seconds (felt like 20), and to stall, I said, “Hi Congressman, how are you?”
“I’m just fine, thank you,” he responded.
More silence.
“Oh, that’s good to hear.”
Then, another painfully long pause, while I tried to remember.
Eventually I just gave up. I said something like, “I’ve got nothin'” and he’s like, “Well, that was easy,” and moved on to the next reporter.
The question was, appropriately, about marijuana policy.

Have you ever been fired? Not yet.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes? There’s gotta be something more recent, but I distinctly remember this happening the first time I saw Borat.

When and why did you last lose your temper? I get mad very rarely, so I can’t remember a time I’ve ever lost my temper.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career? Zookeeper.

Who would you want to play you in a movie? I hear Glen Close is playing male roles these days.

Name jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage
years): I got my first scoops (sorry) at Cold Stone Creamery in high school; worked in restaurants during college, spent nearly 5 months as a commercial fisherman in Alaska and worked at a think tank after graduation.

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it? A what?

Who should just call it a day? The guy who keeps emailing me about how I’m part of the media conspiracy to thwart Ron Paul’s inevitably rise to the White House.

From DCist’s Ben Freed: The expected is boring. What’s the best way you’ve ever fucked shit up? I live in a town where literally hundreds of journalists cover the same story and where people are trained to be boring. So I try as much as possible to tease out the weird. Whether it’s consoling Rep. Thaddeus McCotter after REM’s break-up; giving the American Mustache Institute the serious and thoughtful coverage that fine organization deserves, or using my exclusive interview with a presidential candidate to talk about plants, it’s way more fun than writing the standard fare journalism.

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee.
Make it good. Who will get your vote for president in 2012?