Pelosi refuses to cooperate on new book

A new biography of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) will hit the bookstores in May, but don’t look for Pelosi to attend any book launch parties.

Madam Speaker is a warts-and-all biography by Marc Sandalow, the former Washington bureau chief for the San Francisco Chronicle, Pelosi’s hometown paper.

Sandalow has covered Pelosi for the Chronicle off and on since she came to Congress in 1987 and describes his relationship with the Speaker as “hot and cold.” He offered a caveat in his preface that his is not “an authorized” biography. Yet he interpreted Pelosi’s silence after all these years — not to mention hundreds of news stories he authored about Pelosi during that 21-year span — as a bit of a snub.

“Since I informed her staff I was writing the book, Pelosi has not made eye contact with me,” said Sandalow, now a political analyst for radio and TV stations in San Francisco. “Repeated requests for interviews, information or cooperation were denied. A direct appeal to Pelosi in writing went unanswered. Pelosi ordered her staff not to cooperate. Some close acquaintances of Pelosi’s refused to respond.”

Sandalow insists he has done his best “to separate my personal biases from my observations and close-up impressions,” and hopes “that telling Pelosi’s story will make it more likely that [young] girls will view politics as a noble and attainable profession [and] that more women will lead with Pelosi’s confidence, and that all Americans will expand their notion of what a leader looks like.”

The hardcover book is being published by Rodale, and will sell for $25.95.

Brendan Daly, a spokesman for Pelosi, said that Sandalow’s book is one of many about the first female Speaker, and she couldn’t accommodate all of them. She did make some time for Vincent Bzdek, a Washington Post reporter who wrote Woman of the House: The Rise of Nancy Pelosi, which comes out this month — though, Daly was quick to add, “not much time.”

Pelosi is also penning her own memoir that is due out in bookstores this summer. She was very cooperative with that one.

 


Norah O’Donnell goes shoeless during Iowa caucus coverage

MSNBC’s Norah O’Donnell was in the middle of a balancing act last week during the network’s lengthy coverage of the Iowa caucuses. Which helps explain why O’Donnell went shoeless during her 10:15 p.m. segment. The correspondent, in a red blazer and black skirt, placed her heels underneath a glass table on set. The camera panned her from head to toe, revealing that her shoes were not actually on her feet.  

In explanation, O’Donnell was doing entrance polling from the “catwalk,” an area suspended from the main set. The platform tends to move a bit, so she slipped off her shoes to steady herself.

And her feet had to be hurting. She pulled an 18-hour day last Thursday, working from 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Friday.  

 


Flat Stanley goes to Vegas

Flat Stanley is quite the world traveler. The little paper cutout of a boy fictitiously named Stanley and used as an educational tool for children sets out on another adventure this week — this time, it’s Las Vegas with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab.  

“I have been pleasantly surprised by how well-known Flat Stanley is to industry leaders and foreign trade and government officials,” said Schwab this week. “Flat Stanley has truly become a global teaching tool that has benefited children throughout the world.”

This year’s Flat Stanley, the second such cutout carried by Schwab, belongs to Andrew Berger, a third-grader in Mrs. Harper’s class at Thomas B. Conley School in Asbury, N.J. And apparently Berger is pretty well-connected for his age — his uncle, Don Sankozich, is close friends with Sean Spicer, Schwab’s spokesman.

This week Berger’s Flat Stanley will meet the likes of Sheldon Adelson, owner of the Venetian Hotel, the CEO of Panasonic and top executives for Sony. On Wednesday he will head to Los Angeles to meet with movie studio CEOs and then it’s off to Brussels to meet with the European Commission and then Davos, Switzerland, for the World Economic Forum.

Berger is thrilled that his cutout gets to travel with Schwab. His classmates, who have also created Flat Stanleys, can’t be so thrilled about it.

“It’s sort of a contest and I want mine to go the farthest,” said Berger, who believes he wins a special prize if his does so.

The contest ends in May.

 


 All Homework Left Behind?

Hunter Bigelow is an 11-year-old with an idea that could energize the youth of America: No more homework.

Too bad 11-year-olds can’t vote. But Bigelow is taking action. He recently penned a letter to Arizona Republican Rep. Rick Renzi proposing the populist idea. The Flagstaff native wrote Renzi, his congressman, as part of a Boy Scout requirement to earn a merit badge.

As a father of twelve, there are few parents who have heard this opposition as many times as Rick Renzi. The congressman, who is retiring, has no immediate plans to push Congress for the boy’s All Homework Left Behind policy request.

 


 Lifetime’s celebrity effect on politics

Queen Latifah wants the nation ready for potentially having its first female president. Starting this month, the Queen will appear in a public service campaign sponsored by Lifetime TV, asking ordinary women to complete the following sentence: “If I were president …”

Actress Jodie Foster will be among those answering the question. Others include actress Halle Berry, singer Patti LaBelle, former talk show host Ricki Lake and the cast of “Army Wives,” the hit Lifetime drama.  

Why Latifah? “Because everybody loves her,” said Meredith Wagner, Lifetime’s executive vice president of public affairs who created the “Everywoman Counts” political campaign. “My mother loves her because she thinks she has a nice smile. My niece thinks she’s cool.”

 


Mysteries of personal privacy remain in D.C. Madam case

Somebody else apparently has something to hide in the D.C. Madam case.

After Sen. David Vitter’s (R-La.) number appeared in the now  notorious phone records of Deborah Jeane Palfrey, the woman accused of being the D.C. Madam, ITK wondered why the Justice Department had tried so hard to keep her from giving out her own phone records.

So, ITK sent a FOIA request to the office of the U.S. Attorney for the District, asking if any senators, representatives or other third parties had written to prosecutors. ITK wanted to know if anybody was trying to prevent disclosure of some embarrassing information.

Someone did. William G. Stewart II, the assistant director of the  Freedom of Information staff in the Executive Office for United States Attorneys, wrote back that there are two pages of such documents.

But they’re refusing to hand them over, citing an exemption allowing them to withhold information, the disclosure of which, according to DOJ’s FOIA guide “could reasonably be expected to constitute an unwarranted invasion of personal privacy.”

ITK has appealed the decision, wondering just whose privacy they don’t want invaded.