POLITICS

Brit Hume: I stumbled into journalism

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He's one of the nation's most recognizable reporters, having been the White House correspondent for ABC and the creator of Fox News Channel's celebrated Washington bureau. But Brit Hume never considered journalism until he was starving for work.

"I had no inkling I was going to be a journalist," the folksy Hume revealed. After graduating from college in 1965 with an English degree, he was married, with a child on the way, and living in his mother-in-law's Hartford, Conn., home. He was trying to get a job as an English teacher when an employment agency suggested newspapers.

A slot at the Hartford Times came open, and "I snapped it up because I had to have work." Stepping into the newsroom, he added, "I knew I was home."

His personal story is one of several videos offered up by Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution and George Washington University as part of a monumental effort to reconnect with some 450 Washington reporters a generation after Hess first interviewed them 33 years ago.

Hess' Internet-based video project is called "Journalism in Retrospect: The Washington Reporters," and he even was an accompanying book coming out titled "Whatever Happened to the Washington Reporters, 1978-2012." "Journalism in Retrospect" is a nine-part video interview series on the Brookings website and will include such subjects as Steven Roberts, Nina Totenberg and Linda Greenhouse.

Hess told Secrets he is donating the hundreds of interviews conducted for the project to the Library of Congress, which will eventually make them available to the public.

Just looking Republican helps in elections
Looking like a Republican, even for Democrats, helps candidates in conservative regions, according to two groundbreaking surveys of American voters.

"Candidates running in right-leaning states or facing conservative voters seem to benefit from possessing facial features that make them look more stereotypically Republican than their rivals," said the study authors in the authoritative publication Social Psychological and Personality Science.

Just what a stereotypical Republican looks like the authors didn't suggest. Instead, they left it to survey participants to decide, though one of the pictures offered was of former GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum, known for his conservative style.

"Our results show that people seem to agree that some candidates look more stereotypically Republican than their rivals, even some Democrats," co-author Christopher Olivola told Secrets.

The surveys also looked at what drives Democrats and Republicans when it comes to candidates. They found Republicans were influenced by facial appearances. Democrats were influenced more by gender and minority status.

The authors suggested that the findings have "clear and serious implications" for elections because looks may be more important than issues. "Our results thus suggest that the impact of appearance-based inferences is more robust than previously thought," the authors said. "People vote not just according to party affiliation, but also according to the political attitudes that candidates seem to convey through their facial appearances."

In shift, GOP stronger in Senate races
Last week's victory in the Wisconsin GOP Senate primary of ex-Gov. Tommy Thompson has Senate watchers raising the likelihood that Republicans will take control of the chamber.

Kyle Kondik, the Senate analyst with the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, said Thompson is strong in Wisconsin, making it likely he will win the seat Democrat Sen. Herb Kohl is giving up.

That puts six seats in the "leans Republican" category, he said, from Arizona, Indiana, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota and Wisconsin.

"Assuming that all six of these tenuous leaning-Republican seats hold -- and the leaning-Democratic Senate races in Hawaii, New Mexico and Ohio also stay blue -- the Republicans would have a 49-47 Senate edge, with four remaining tossups," he said. "Democrats would need to sweep all four tossups to retain a bare majority in the Senate, 51-49," he said.

Republicans feel confident of winning at least two, Massachusetts and Montana, leaving Virginia and Florida true tossups.

Paul Bedard, The Examiner's Washington Secrets columnist, can be contacted at pbedard@washingtonexaminer.com. His column appears each weekday in the Politics section and on washingtonexaminer.com.

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