The FishbowlDC Interview With Politico’s Juana Summers

Say hello to Politico national political reporter Juana Summers. At least here in the Fishbowl you may know her best from our highlighting her comical news efforts on Politico‘s Livestream Show. With her signature smirk and black leather jacket, Juana, a Missouri School of Journalism grad, has emerged as one of our fan favorites on the show as she navigates directives from Exec. Editor Jim VandeHei and gracefully tackles otherworldly questions from Mike Allen. She says she enjoys the live show and not knowing what she’s going to be asked next. She also swears that Allen and the other higher-ups never tell her what to wear — “no formal instructions, I get to pick my own wardrobe,” she said in a morning phone interview. We can only imagine that getting fashion tips from Allen could be awkward, but a trip with him to the mall could be quite fun. Juana also gets to say what she pleases on the show. No script. “I’m trying to think of how to be as interesting as possible while still making sense on air,” she explained when we inquired what goes through her head as they’re firing questions at her. In the latest show, VandeHei kept badgering her about when she was going to have her story filed and who was going to edit it — how the hell should she know who will edit her piece, VandeHei? (Somehow we have become arch Juana defenders and take our role seriously. We hope she won’t pay dearly for choosing dinner with Politico‘s Tim Grieve as opposed to VandeHei.) In the summer of 2008, Juana was a web intern for WaPo, where she wrote headlines, cutlines and code for “Sacred Ground” the project documenting the Pentagon memorial for Sept. 11 victims. A Kansas City native, she came to Politico from the The Kansas City Star in November, 2010.

If you were a combined carbonated beverage, which would you be? If I’m on the clock, just Diet Coke.  If I’m off the clock, Jack and Diet Coke.

How often do you Google yourself? I’ve got self-Google Alerts set up, though I don’t check them as often as I should.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor/boss (or vice versa)? Back in college, I was told I should give up on political journalism and just “go back to my sorority house.” You see how well I followed that advice.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why? Jill Abramson from the NYT. I had the opportunity to meet her in ’08. I really respect how she climbed the ranks of a traditionally male driven institution.

Do you have a favorite word? Oscillate. I like the way it sounds.

Who would you rather have dinner with – Fake Jim VandeHei, The Real Jim VandeHei or Politico Pro’s Tim Grieve. Tell us why. And no, all together is NOT an option. As I’ve had dinner with the real Jim VandeHei, I’ll take Tim Grieve. Fake Jim’s love for/obsession with Drudge is a deal breaker.

What’s your funniest TV blooper moment? Being asked during POLITICO Live about the “Santorum campaign bus” and the food we’re provided on the trail.  I purchase my diet of Chicken Nuggets and Egg McMuffins myself and have become quite talented at driving while eating.

What swear word do you use most often? Fuck.

Now for a really serious moment: What is your dream job, money and practicalities aside? If I knew that, it’d take all the fun out of life. But seriously, I’ve got the campaign bug. Love what I’m doing and hope to be doing something similar in four years. Apparently, living out of a suitcase suits me.