Page 39 - FSJ June 2012

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switchboard in Washington, when
both brothers were working for that
network. She said: “This is Marvin
Kalb’s mother. Is my son Bernie
there?”
After Bernie left NBC in 1984,
Marvin shared the NBC booth with
Ann Garrels, a young newcomer who
joked about rooming with such a
renowned, erudite figure. She liked to
show off a sweatshirt she had received
as a wedding present. Across the
front, it said, “Marvin Who?”
Bernie once told the story of a visit
he and columnist Joe Kraft made to
Vietnamese President Nguyen Van
Thieu in Saigon, on the eve of a
groundbreaking presidential election
there in 1967. It was a key period of
the Vietnam War. Thieu, seeking re-
election, was frustrated by allegations
of irregularities. “How can I convince
people that the election will be fair?”
he asked. “Lose,” Kalb deadpanned.
It was a one-liner that Kraft treasured
— and repeated — for years.
Madeleine Plays Ball
Secretary of State Albright visited
Moscow early in her tenure to call on
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, who
had been suffering health problems.
When she emerged, my AP colleague,
Barry Schweid, asked her how Yeltsin
was feeling. “Oh, he was at the top of
his game,” she said. Schweid followed
up: “What game was that? Senior
shuffleboard?” Albright laughed
loudly.
Weeks later, she was called on to
throw out the first pitch of the season
opener at Baltimore’s Camden Yards.
With the State Department media
watching from the press box, Albright
bounced the ball in front of home
plate. Her spokesman, Jamie Rubin,
said the pitch “broke too fast” — as if
Albright had a curve ball in her meager
arsenal. We all laughed.
Tales from the Press Room
When I began covering State for
the Associated Press, the main point of
interaction between the department
and the press was the noon briefing.
Reporters were only permitted to use
a pen and paper — no cameras or
recording devices. Instead of grand-
standing, respectful exchanges be-
tween the press and the spokesman
(Robert J. McCloskey in those days)
were common.
J U N E 2 0 1 2 / F O R E I G N S E R V I C E J O U R N A L
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I sometimes found
traveling abroad with
Secretaries of State
overrated.