ink-stained wretches

Low Temperatures, High Drama: Inside the Iowa Press Corps

Iowa Press

They’re dead on the inside.Photo: Getty Images

As you know, everyone who’s anyone in politics is in Iowa right now. But so is everyone who’s no one! That’s right, we’re talking about the press, the unwashed mass following the candidates around, scribbling and taping and snap-snapping as Hillary, Obama, McCain et al spout platitudes, stuff themselves full of local cuisine and generally attempt to maintain a grip on the love handles of the elusive midwestern vote. That’s who we want to know about. We’ve had enough of Billary and FreJeri Thompson and KuciniHottie. What about the writers, anchors and bloggers who make them who they are?? (Or at least tell us who they want them to be?) For those of you with a lurid curiosity about these sick characters, we did some digging into what the Iowa press corps is up to. And not just the Dana Milbanks and the Adam Nagourneys. (Spotted! The NYT staff having dinner at Lucca, the Italian place in Des Moines’ “East Village” that Ad Nags raved about in the travel section a few weeks ago.) We mean everyone. Take Jodi Kantor from the Times, for example.

Kantor, like everyone else in the media, has been hanging out at Centro. Remember her page-one story yesterday about how service-sector workers in Iowa can’t caucus? Well, apparently the waiter she quoted was from that very restaurant, and it’s become the talk of tout Des Moines. “That’s like taking your quotes from someone at Michael’s or Elaine’s,” sniffed one journalist who preferred to remain anonymous. “It’s not evidence of much shoe leather at all.” “It’s like interviewing your family about what it’s like to be related to a reporter,” added another (cowardly) columnist. Wow, catty.

We hear the 36-hour Edwards bus was a real bag of chuckles. Like, so fun that when Edwards himself brought coffee back to the tired and disgruntled reporters, he laughed. “You guys all look like hell,” he said, before disappearing quickly so that his hair wouldn’t get infected by the general ill will. “A cameraman jostling for position on the ice outside the Council Bluffs HQ almost knocked Elizabeth Edwards to the ground,” reported Newsweek blogger Andrew Romano, who we heard actually hopped off the bus himself four hours early to escape the madness. “Everybody is just losing their shit,” another reporter told us as the trip wound to its end.

Reporters are like puppy dogs,” explained a campaign newbie. “The political desk just called me for the first time in four days and told me I was doing a good job. And I was like, ‘Aw! Okay, I love you guys again!’”

Anyway, here’s what you’re really waiting for. As you can imagine, all press people don’t like to have their names attached to anything, so the rest of our dish has to come in the form of blind items. So put your guesses in the comments! And hope to Huckabee these guys don’t track you down!

• Which major photographer had a public meltdown in front of dozens of other reporters in a hotel lobby? The snapper berated a bellboy so aggressively that fellow media members fled the scene.
• Which single television producer and which single high-profile print reporter have an ongoing campaign romp? Turns out they have a lot of the same interests!
• Which gay reporters like to pick up locals at the gay bar the Blazing Saddle? And why the hell isn’t there a gay bar in New York with that name??
• Which Nation reporter liked to give fist bumps to people after they emerged from the smelly bathroom on the Edwards bus? We bet we’d be friends with him.
• Which reporter from a top-ten paper is publicly lamenting that she’s the only one on the ground without an expense report? Her pals are so mad on her behalf they’re rumbling about a boycott of the tabloid.

Low Temperatures, High Drama: Inside the Iowa Press Corps