Politico‘s Ben Smith has one of those names that you can’t just say “Ben” or “Smith” — they must be blended together for full effect. So in the latest in Ben Smith news, the Brooklyn-based blogger has a newly hired assistant in Washington. Meet Byron Tau. We think you can just call him “Byron” or “Tau” but he could well turn into “Byron Tau” like his superior. Tao’s official title on the masthead is Editorial Assistant, but an internal memo calls him “Ben Smith’s assistant.” He has been on the job just under two months.
When asked what he prefers to be called and a myriad of other questions, he told FishbowlDC, “Don’t get me in trouble with Mr. Smith!”
(We wouldn’t dream of it.)
Tau sought the job by responding to an ad on Ben Smith’s blog. The ad called for someone who a) reads the blog (check) b) has a pretty geeky and detailed grasp of the political landscape (check) and c) a fast and clean writer (jury is still out but we assume Tau has passed Ben Smith’s muster). Tau interviewed for the job via Skype.
Ben Smith said he received a “flattering” number of resumes for the position, dozens from “people who would have been great.” Among the qualities he saw and sensed in Tao: extremely hardworking, reliable and able to fill in for a blogger, who say, wanders off to Israel for a week. “One of the things that impressed me about him was that, along with working as a reporter and attending grad school, he was working as a bartender on weekends; that combination seemed like basically the skill set I was looking for,” he said.
Aside from being Ben Smith’s assistant, just who is Tau?
“Never was based in NYC, though I wish I was sometimes,” he told me. “Better restaurants, apparently or so the New York Times is trying to convince us. Before Politico, he freelanced and interned at the NJ’s Hotline, TNR and Roll Call. Tau graduated from McGill University in Montreal, Canada where he “developed a serious tolerance for cold and also a tolerance for being mistaken for Canadian by Americans. I am NOT Canadian and never want to be,” he said half-jokingly.
Mr. Tau, welcome to the Fishbowl.