Week Two of Inside Washington Features Leading Political Voices

Week Two of Inside Washington Features Leading Political Voices

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Christian Holm
January 19, 2015

Politics and policy headlined the first week of the Inside Washington academic seminar, but presentation of those policies – through and in spite of the mainstream American media – drove conversation in Week Two. The Washington Center’s Politics and The Media program kicked off with one of Washington’s most well-known voices (Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus), continued with the stories of D.C. media veterans (retired ABC White House Correspondent Ann Compton) and culminated with a visit to the world’s largest monument to the press: the Newseum.


Chatting with the Chair: In a Monday morning visit to TWC’s Residential and Academic Facility, Priebus, offered preview of the Republican Party’s 2016 strategy. But of keen interest to the audience of more than 150 students was Priebus’ path to becoming the GOP’s chief strategist.


Priebus didn’t take a direct path to Washington; he spent more than a decade as a corporate litigator before entering politics. He encouraged the audience to take build a successful career and engage whenever possible in causes they are passionate about.


“Even when I wasn’t working in politics as a career I was volunteering and organizing phone banks, because it was something I believed in,” Priebus said. “Eventually, one thing led to another and I got the opportunity to serve the GOP - it was that dedication to something I believed in that got me here.”


An Evening with Chuck Todd: What’s the one thing NBC’s Meet the Press moderator has come to understand about the president’s he’s had the privilege to cover?


“They’re just wired differently,” he told a packed National Press Club crowd during an evening reception with the Inside Washington participants. I think if you collectively looked at the DNA of all 43 presidents – and I say 43, because why do you count one of them twice? – you’d find some weird mutation. And I say hat with love.”


Prompted by moderator Steve Scully, a C-SPAN senior executive producer and Inside Washington faculty chair Todd shared insights about all things politics, particularly the legacy of Barack Obama’s presidency and his new book on Obama, The Stranger. He touched on the challenges of taking over MTP, the longest-running show in U.S. television history, just a few months ago. And offered students some simple advice on how to follow in his footsteps.


“If you have any interest at all in a career in politics and the media, come to Washington,” he said. “There’s no better place to learn how this industry works.”


A Transformative Two Weeks: As the seminar’s students and faculty prepared to return to their colleges and universities, many eyed a return to Washington in the near future. Halli Spraggins, a student from the University of San Diego, said the seminar marked her third time visiting Washington - but the first time she’s considered about coming back for a longer stay.


“Regardless of all of the differing opinions I’ve heard, this week reignited a fire in my belief in our ability to solve problems,” Spraggins said. “Hearing from journalists like [former CBS News Investigative Correspondent] Sheryl Atkinson and how they pushed back against the system to find the truth makes me want to be a part of that.”


To view photos from Week Two of Inside Washington, click here

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