Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity

A Word on Mouthpiece Theater

As Howard Kurtz is now reporting, Mouthpiece Theater is no more.

With Dana Milbank and I headed out on August vacations, we had always planned to re-evaluate the relative merits of the show, which was begun as an experiment by the Post in producing original web video content, between now and Labor Day. We had hoped our experiment would be more of a summer blockbuster, like "Transformers", but it wound up to be something more akin to "Operation Dumbo Drop".

Joking aside, I would like to personally apologize for the content in last Friday's video as it was inconsistent not only with the Post brand but, more important and personal to me, the Fix brand which I have worked so hard to cultivate.

I can only hope that those who have enjoyed reading the Fix, following me on Twitter and Facebook and watching my occasional television appearances can follow the age-old maxim: to err human, to forgive divine.

Since some of you have been very critical of my role in Mouthpiece from the start, I wanted to also give you an explanation of why doing it appealed to me in the first place.

We are in an experimental age of journalism in which many of the old ways of doing business are rapidly being transformed. I have always believed that experimentation -- and the willingness to fail -- sit at the center of any creative endeavor, and have done my best to bring that mentality to the Fix each and every day.

What did I learn from doing Mouthpiece? That I am not funny on camera (this will not be a revelation to many of you), that name-calling is never the stuff of good comedy, and that the sort of straight, inside dope reporting I pride myself on made for a somewhat discordant marriage with the sort of satire Mouthpiece aimed to create.

And, as Mrs. Fix -- my guidepost in all things -- rightly pointed out: I am better writing about the news than being in the news.

Lessons learned.

But, for those who have counseled me to "stick to your day job", I say this: my day job, like every reporter in the Post newsroom or in the journalism business more broadly, is changing rapidly, and I am committed to trying to change with it. I pledge to continue to try and innovate -- hopefully in smarter, less controversial ways -- via the Fix and the other platforms (Twitter, Facebook, You Tube etc.) on which I am lucky enough to have a chance to communicate with other political junkies on a daily basis.

Thanks for taking the time to read this and for caring enough about journalism generally and the Fix (and me) for specifically to engage in a debate about the standards we are setting for ourselves.

By Chris Cillizza  |  August 5, 2009; 2:31 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Notes  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Cornyn Pushes Back On Sotomayor Vote
Next: The Most Important Number in Politics Today


"[M]y day job, like every reporter in the Post newsroom or in the journalism business more broadly, is changing rapidly, and I am committed to trying to change with it."

Just an idea, but why don't you try the radical practice of calling out the lies uttered by lobbyists, politicians and their mouthpieces, so the public can be genuinely informed about the truth of the issues, rather than having to choose which "side" to believe?

Sure, that would require more work than just dutifully relaying the talking points that get fed to you by both sides, but wouldn't it be better to be a journalist than a stenographer?

Posted by: JohnSmallBerries | August 7, 2009 12:28 PM | Report abuse

Chris- The hell of it is that not everyone has the same funny bone. Some are far smaller and less developed than others. It is clear that some of those who complain have no understanding of satire. Would Swift's Modest Proposal of eating Irish babies have flown within the Beltway? Satire is a rapier which cuts through much but it is easy to be cut by it yourself. As 19thC actor Edmund Kean said on his death bed, "Dying is easy, comedy is hard." Personally, I thought it was a great idea and enjoyed every posting. This is the 2nd episode of the Post trying to reinvent its-self that hasn't gone as planned. Maybe its time for a sit down about the importance of continuing to do what you do well as an institution. These are distractions from the Post's credibilty. That said, you're a champ to be willing to man up to the mistake here with sincerity and brevity. Little Fix is lucky to have a dad like you and he'll be a better man for your example. Thanks for your insight.

Posted by: slmdarien | August 7, 2009 8:03 AM | Report abuse

CC -- I confess to having never watched MT, although I always enjoy reading your column. I did hear about the MT episode in question. Yes, from what I heard, it sounds to me like it crossed a line. But I do want to commend you on your straightforward and sincere apology; you went up a notch in my esteem with this.

Posted by: acasilaco | August 6, 2009 7:33 PM | Report abuse

Sorry to hear MT is gone. Yes it had a certain cheese factor that may have been undignified for the WASH Post, but it was witty and not a little snarky. The Post could use more snarky.
MD Lowe

Posted by: Ticdoulouroux1 | August 6, 2009 6:47 PM | Report abuse

Would they have apologized if the photo had been Laura Bush. I doubt it,

Posted by: paulj1938 | August 6, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Suppose I made a mistake and used a racial slur to describe President Obama while trying to tell a joke. And suppose I apologized for it. Would that make it okay?

I'm not sure. After all, it takes a certain mindset to think it's okay to use a slur, and that's the real problem, after all. It would be a great mistake, I think, to think that the reaction was a collective overreaction by politically correct critics--it really did offend a lot of people, including me, and I have plenty of Y chromosomes.

Posted by: orange2299 | August 6, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

Correct me if Im wrong, but Milbank was the one who made the controversial remark wasnt he?

Posted by: timmerq | August 6, 2009 4:32 PM | Report abuse

Apologies, one more comment. Comedy and politics are both dangerous practices. It's very, very, very easy to say something that will offend. It's very easy to "cross the line" to insensitivity.

Whether it's David Letterman's telling a joke involving Sarah Palin's daughter or it's Barack Obama's calling the Cambridge Police's actions "stupid." Or it's Chris Cilizza and Dana Milbank casually tossing out the B-word.

No matter how many people may agree with what you're saying, there are still some subjects and words that live in the "third rail" zone.

Don't touch them unless you know what you're doing.

Posted by: dognabbit | August 6, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Basically this incident is but another example of some pundits, like most politicians, being smug and arrogant. They say offensive remarks, apologize after being roundly criticized.

Reporters should try to stop looking at themselves as celebrities to concentrate on reporting the news and giving their opinions based upon well reasoned positions, not trying to be cute or witty in their comments. Journalism is likely to never return to its glory days of the 1960's, 1970's.

Posted by: Aprogressiveindependent | August 6, 2009 1:08 PM | Report abuse

I wish to add, Chris, that you and Dana have the foundation for funny because you're both personable on camera and you seem to be having fun.

Posted by: dognabbit | August 6, 2009 11:58 AM | Report abuse

I support your efforts, Chris (Dana's, too). Can't just sit on your hands. Gotta get out there and try things.

Critical people? Especially, the negative ones? They just waste our time. They make us worry and second guess ourselves.

Posted by: dognabbit | August 6, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

If Olbermann, O'Reilley and even Glenn Beck can be on the air - there should be a place for Chris. You know, try, try and try again if at first you fail. If you find your true voice, it is bound to be a hit.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | August 6, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

"[Hillary] just had to put up with years of constant rumors that she was a lesbian, that she'd had an affair with Vince Foster..."

Uhhh, I'm a right-winger and this is the first time I have ever heard those "rumors". But since the left is forever struggling to get a handle on facts, it doesn't surprise me you would stoop to such far-fetched claims.

As far as "preconceived notions", it's clear you are far outpacing me in that area...

Posted by: dbw1 | August 6, 2009 11:03 AM | Report abuse

I thought it was funny, even if the joke was over the line for the Fix and the Post. Keep up the good work.

Posted by: sambatkins | August 6, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Journalists cannot maintain professional standards if they honestly think that the "news" is something to "experiment" with. The advent of the internet should not undermine or change the way responsible journalists investigate important issues and report the facts to their readers as news. But in a country where only a few conglomerates own all the newspapers, magazines, radio and teevee stations, there is no freedom of the press or journalistic integrity. Little wonder that you feel a need to compete with the likes of Jon Stewart and Colbert. These two excellent comedians appeal to so many people as their razor sharp wits clear the fog, created by you and your ilk infecting our country with your divisive attempts to “balance” the news and politicize issues --- pitting Americans against Americans. Is it so hard for you to comprehend that The Daily Show and Colbert Report are popular because they help the public see through the lies and subterfuge from America’s media oligopoly, that is determined to keep us uninformed and distracted by nonsense. --- Or are you even aware that while Stewart and Colbert may “pretend” to be reporters on teevee, in the “real” world (you understand the difference doncha?) they are comedians and what a crying shame that Americans have to depend on them for “news.” --- The reason you and your cohorts are dying has nothing to do with the competition at large and certainly not because of good old fashioned reporting. ‘Tis your failure to grasp the fact that “news” is not entertainment or something journalists have the power to balance and control in the real world. Whilst those who strive to do so, mendaciously report the news.

Posted by: ldp1 | August 6, 2009 9:32 AM | Report abuse

You are forgiven. You do wha you do very well and you did Mouthpiece very poorly. Big deal, you tried.

Ask your colleagues Gene and Joel. They are funny guys. But they used to hang out with a guy named Dave who was so funny he became rich.

The problem was the three hung out together at work, and only one of them (you know who) was really funny, the other two paled. Same here. There are a lot people who are funny when you are hanging out with them, but they would be duds when placed in a situation where they are "supposed" to be funny. That was basically "MT".

And Jake D, Colbert is genius. These two mopes aren't even in the same Galaxy.

Posted by: LeRiverend | August 6, 2009 9:25 AM | Report abuse

It just wasn't funny.

It was more of the eye-rolling, sneering of elitist snobs ridiculing "the others," which basically reminded us of high school cafeteria tables.

That may work at the upper-crust dinner parties amongst the inner sanctum of Martha's Vineyard, but it doesn't serve your readers, who are actually the people you work for.

Pass the word among your fellow NBC/MSNBC sneerers: Americans have bigger issues to deal with than who's the "coolest" in the cafeteria; we change the channel.

Real journalism, please. Maybe then WAPO , MSNBC, and Newsweek will stop losing readers and dollars.

Posted by: auntmo9990 | August 6, 2009 8:06 AM | Report abuse

No sweat big guy, we still love ya!

Posted by: AndyR3 | August 6, 2009 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Kudos to you for your honest assessment of "mouthpiece theatre". A "failed experiment", really. And indeed, "ultimately, it wasn't funny". However, without experiments, there would be no progress in the world. And failing while trying is nothing to be ashamed of, as long as there is an honest commitment to accept responsibility for this. You sure lived up to this ethical standard here. Good job, Chris!

Posted by: Gray62 | August 6, 2009 7:33 AM | Report abuse


I have been a fan since, literally, the first post.

I did not care for mouthpiece.

Good for you for trying. I remain a fan.

Posted by: comtrevor | August 6, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

Sorry for not having read all the posts and if someone else has said this:

I had no problem with the video format. I commend you for the attempt.

My objection was to what you said: gossipy, inside-the-village, we-know-better chatter that was not informative and usually incomplete and inaccurate.

Posted by: cactusman | August 6, 2009 12:19 AM | Report abuse

It's okay Chris. I am still proud to be a Fixista, and have read this column everyday, regardless of where I am in the world. The column has really evolved since the end of the 2008 election and especially over this summer. I am really pleased with what you are doing. I stopped watching the videos a couple of posts ago because, yes, you are not funny in front of a camera.

Posted by: jameshauser | August 5, 2009 11:54 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was funny (and I VOTED for the lady).


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | August 5, 2009 11:52 PM | Report abuse

I think the Post bailed out too quickly. You mades some goofs, and it got you publicity and links. I'd never heard of the show before your gaffes. That was a great PR opportunity. Had you ridden it out you would have had a larger audience. You'll get better with time. Too bad you threw in the towel (or your editor threw in the towel).

Posted by: mark16 | August 5, 2009 10:00 PM | Report abuse

That was an impressive post. (In marked contrast to a certain web video.) Perhaps for future creative endeavors, you should turn to Mrs. Fix instead of Mr. Milbank; she sounds like a smart lady.

"Reporters covering reporters is one of the reasons no one cares about reporters any more."

Posted by: jes7 | August 5, 2009 9:58 PM | Report abuse

Oh, well. You shouldn't feel too terrible. After all,

Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

Or no something-something, no foul.

Or something.

Posted by: dadada | August 5, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Hi Chris: I appreciate you trying new ways to be innovative on your blog. I did watch MT the first couple of shows and sort of, kind of smiled a couple of times, but I haven't watched since although I read the Fix daily. I hope though that as you indicate you continue trying innovative things.

I also hope that you continue with your sense of humor because reading your blog of political insights dashed with a personal sense of humor is a pleasure. I think MT just wasn't the best vehicle for your humor; your writing is perfect for it.

A final point -- I did enjoy your 30 second What to Watch For Today segments -- I found them informative, quick, and funny to see where would you be, whether baby Fix would participate and if you would wear a wacky T-shirt. I vote for you to start doing those clips again!

Posted by: jrosco3 | August 5, 2009 9:43 PM | Report abuse

Hold on, these guys get to take vacations? Too bad all the regular people working there don't.

Posted by: exPostie | August 5, 2009 9:36 PM | Report abuse

BROKAW (12/28/08 New York Times magazine): Tim had a special appreciation of Madden's powers of observation, like Madden's admonition to hotel guests not to sleep on the side the bed where the telephone is located because the mattress is more likely to sag from overuse. Tim believed the small, telling detail can say a great deal about the larger failings or vulnerabilities of a politician.

A few years ago, he asked me to check on the prospects of a farm-state candidate for governor who spent part of every year on Nantucket and adopted some of the local customs. I called a friend in the candidate's state to get an assessment, and he said simply, ''He doesn't wear socks.'' Tim roared when I passed along the observation, and we often used that expression—''He doesn't wear socks”—as shorthand for politicians who were tone-deaf.

Sockless Tim:

Posted by: edlharris | August 5, 2009 9:27 PM | Report abuse

Tim Russert was a bit of a blowhard.
His antics have been well chronicled by Bob Somerby at

After his death, Tom Brokaw related Tim's sage observation about men who didn't wear socks when Tim disparaged a politician who didn't wear socks.

Then of course, someone found a picture of Tim sockless.

Posted by: edlharris | August 5, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Funny that the kind of folks who talk about going Galt are typically the social parasite class that Rand despised (lawyers, politicians, etc.). Personally, I wish they would substitute action for words already. It's like a whiny teenager threatening to run away from home. Go, already! See how long you last.

Posted by: nodebris | August 5, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

chrisfox8 wrote, "I think of Ayn Rand as a writer of children's books."

My grandmother got me to read Anthem as a teenager and I had the same experience.

The idea that what's wrong with the world is that selfishness has been insufficiently unleashed is not one that many people my age would find credible.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | August 5, 2009 8:48 PM | Report abuse

I read "Atlas Shrugged" when I was 14 and thought it was profound. Picked it up again five years later and was stunned to see what a piece of crap it was, how badly written, gave up after less than a hundred pages.

Dunno why Rand is so revered among bad people, the ones who keep "The Virtue of Selfishness" under their pillow.

So I think of Ayn Rand as a writer of children's books.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully what comes next is food.


Oh god no please I can't eat another bite

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

Speaking of "Going Galt!" anyone out there earning a paycheck can get a quick raise immediately just by turning in a new W-4 Form to your employer claiming 9 allowances on Line 5 (I know that more than 10 allowances used to trigger an IRS inquiry -- not sure if that's still the case -- the last thing you need is a "lock down" letter). As for any "penalty" next April, that would be worth it to send a message to Obama to stop spending now. Or, you can simply send in one check to cover the difference right before January 1st and avoid the penalty:

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 8:25 PM | Report abuse

Hopefully what comes next is food.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | August 5, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Ayn Rand AND Nora Ephron references in the same thread -- what are the odds?!

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 8:16 PM | Report abuse

I would urge you to cancel immediately and let them know why!

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 7:25 PM |

I urge you to cancel immediately, and Go Galt! JakeD.

Posted by: ifthethunderdontgetya | August 5, 2009 8:09 PM | Report abuse

I watched an earlier Mouthpiece, and thought it a waste of my time, so I didn't see the beer summit piece until today, so that I could discover for myself what the hue and cry was all about.
My takeaway is that there are a lot of brews with a lot of silly names, and if the beers are as good as their names, I'm not missing anything by not drinking them. My other takeaway was that you should stick to reporting and not become the story. Be the wallflower at the orgy.

Posted by: sensible | August 5, 2009 7:45 PM | Report abuse

To those who argue that journalism and humor aren't compatible, I offer this headline from the NY Post, which walks right up to the line and stops short of being outright offensive: "Bubba gets the chicks."

Perhaps now that so much of what WaPo does gets done online, a reduction in the amount of starch used when ironing editors' shirts would be in order.

Though some will gasp in horror, it seems to me that online news delivery with its
quest for ad revenue contingent on hits which are in turn contingent on viral propagation of links is inherently more tabloidy than the old paper delivered to your door.

Much as I detest Drudge and his efforts to use his influence to hoodwink ill-informed
people into adopting right wing positions, he's the model here - and to his credit, he does have a sharp eye for highlighting the catchiest part of any given story in his brief headline link to it.

By the way, the brand of beer Dana Milb anks referred to wasn't something he made up, it really exists, and for a journalist in the know, with a sense of humor, it was just too good a joke to pass up.

Of course, that journalist violated the prime directive of political correctness (which is 9/10 of what distinguishes WaPo from NY Po, no?): We must never forget how many people in our time build their entire identities around a sense of having been

Fortunately for the NY Post, "bubbas" are not a group founded on hair-trigger sensibilities, and no one uses the word "chicks" today in a way serious enough to
offend the chronically easily offended partisans of feminism.

Posted by: douglaslbarber | August 5, 2009 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 7:39 PM | Report abuse


I would urge you to cancel immediately and let them know why!

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 7:25 PM | Report abuse

I liked Mouthpiece Theater. I'm quite frankly upset that the WAPO editors yet again have caved...first it was the salons and now this. Chris, Dana...I looked forward to each episode. Satire is take it for what it is. I'm on the verge of calling the Post and cancelling my subscription once and for all now that the editors caved on this.

Posted by: jeffgopack1 | August 5, 2009 7:21 PM | Report abuse

From his Catholic school newspaper to the pinnicle of network news, Tim Russert was a Jesuit-trained lawyer who served as special counsel and then chief of staff to Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, later as a counselor to Mario Cuomo, and then senior vice president of NBC News' Washington operations and, ultimately, Washington bureau chief of NBC News and host of "Meet the Press".

During his career, Russert received 48 honorary doctorates and won several awards for excellence in journalism, including the Edward R. Murrow Award from the Radio-Television News Directors Association, the John Peter Zenger Freedom of the Press Award, the American Legion Journalism Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars News Media Award, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society Journalism Award, the Allen H. Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism, the David Brinkley Award for Excellence in Communication and the Catholic Academy for Communication's Gabriel Award.

Trying to keep this on-topic, Russert's favorite beer was Rolling Rock, and, at his funeral, fellow anchor Tom Brokaw brought and raised a Rolling Rock in Russert's memory.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 7:15 PM | Report abuse

Jon Stewart is nothing like Tim Russert (RIP).

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 7:06 PM | Report abuse

"The reason Jon Stewart is successful both as comedian and "trusted" news deliverer (I won't call him a journalist) is that he cares about the truth and not about the story."

He's become very Russsert like, actually. Unwilling to use a guest's words and clips against him. There were some good interviews with Barney Frank and Bill Kristol.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 5, 2009 6:56 PM | Report abuse

blasmaic (from the original link provided above):

Although the scripts for "Mouthpiece Theater" were approved by editors, Milbank and Cillizza often ad-libbed parts of it, as was the case with the inclusion of Clinton's photo. "We did not have an effective system for vetting videos and other multimedia content," Brauchli said, insisting that will change.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse

The reason Jon Stewart is successful both as comedian and "trusted" news deliverer (I won't call him a journalist) is that he cares about the truth and not about the story. He has the courage to make the obvious calls when someone, especially a politician, is being ingenuous or simply idiotic. The "journalists" who write "columns" in the Post are more concerned with appearing to be in on the game itself and yet above it at the same time. What made Mouthpiece Theater contemptible was not only its lack of humor, but that it really was not any different than the page six gossip reporting that has become the stock and trade of Mr. Cilliza and Mr. Milbank. At least Mouthpiece Theater was up front with its disregard for substantive reporting; the regular columns of Mr. Milbank and Cilliza seem to be merely flippant, sarcastic and wearily cynical paeans to their own insider knowledge colored by their fixation on the game of politics without any concern for the affects of such game.

At least New York Post is much more satisfying (especially the headlines) and does not pretend to be above anyone or objective. But I guess if you get a degree in journalism . . .

Posted by: eddiehaskel | August 5, 2009 6:51 PM | Report abuse


"I regret that we put up that image," Milbank said Wednesday, "and while I highly doubt the Secretary of State has seen 'Mouthpiece Theater,' I would be honored to have the opportunity to apologize to her over a beer." I'm sured that Mr. Cillizza would gladly join such a "Beer Summit" too.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

@JRM2: there's no point correcting him. He's an idiot who will never learn and has never acknowledged being wrong. He'll just repeat the same lies in the very next post. Save your breath.

Posted by: chrisuxcox

Pretty much the same anal ysis that attaches to anyone who dares disagree with the resident moron.

the gauche has resorted to imbecility to defend its idiotic policies. Hate has always been a working concept for them. It continues.

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

Have you apologized to Hillary Clinton?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | August 5, 2009 6:42 PM | Report abuse

You embarrassed the profession of Murrow and Cronkite, and demeaned your colleagues who actually do real reporting. The fact that WashPost pays you to do your clown act while closing foreign bureaus is beyond shameful. Try to redeem yourself by doing a serious job on serious news. It's too late for Milbank, but you can try to save yourself and your tanking career.

Posted by: Pupster | August 5, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

Oh, Chris!

I haven't felt this bad since your 'April Fools Day' video in which said you were closing down The Fix.

I agree with 99% of what 'timmerq' said, but I actually enjoyed Mouthpiece Theatre. As a childhood fan of the Oz comedy series 'Fast Forward' (does anyone out there remember the decidedly cruel, but convulsively funny parody of Bobby Battista, then of CNN???) and the UK series 'Hale and Pace'--perhaps my sense of humour is totally skewed?

I saw last week's video and was NOT offended. Perhaps to someone with a UK education, the 'B'-word is not the electrifying call-to-arms for feminists which it is in the US, for better or worse. And surely the men got as good as the women--viz., 'Angry Troll', etc.

With all that said, I do hope the mean-spirited 'angry trolls' have had their final say in the comments section and can now contentedly crawl back under their respective bridges.

I DO hope that (speaking for myself) your sorely missed 'Fix-Cam', 'The Week In Preview', and 'White House Cheat Sheet' will now reemerge as you'll have slightly more time. And, to quote the famous actor Charles Laughton, 'Never stop trying to hang yourself!'

Posted by: sverigegrabb | August 5, 2009 6:30 PM | Report abuse

I expected to read more about how it went from concept to implementation. Milbank and Cilizza aren't the only idiots that thought the idea could work.

Posted by: blasmaic | August 5, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Unfortunately, those like "JRM2" and "chrisfox8" refuse to engage in civil debate -- answering simple questions without resorting to name-calling -- I have indeed acknowledged being wrong and posted retractions on these threads.

For anyone else who wants to debate whether Gates's arrest was illegal, that thread can be found over here:

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 6:06 PM | Report abuse

My two cents on this CC is that it MT is better gone. For better or worse, you cannot be a quality journalist and a comic. The fact that more people trust Jon Stewart about the news makes Jon Stewart sad. You are a good reporter and you clearly work very hard. I respect the effort and sincerety that you bring to your work--even when you are not as critical of your sources as I think you should be. Please keep plugging and don't be afraid to fail.
Good luck!

Posted by: trep1 | August 5, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

way to go for giving it the old college try.

most folks would have been content to wonder "what if".... you guys took a chance.

i liked it but i understand why you're pulling the plug (isn't that in the healthcare bill?).

anyway, i'm glad you took the chance to do something new and potentially wonderful.

do it again.

the lesson is in the journey not the destination.

Posted by: stephenrhymer | August 5, 2009 5:38 PM | Report abuse

Thank God, it's over. Your "evaluation" of the "merits" of your "show" must have been pretty quick, as it had no merits. Your "show" was stupid and embarrassing.

Posted by: princeleo | August 5, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

The joke about Congressman Pickering's wife is even sadder than the one about Mrs. Clinton. She has been cheated on by her husband of 20 years(and the good Christian father of her 5 sons) but then gets mocked as a bitter woman?

As I said earlier, mouthpiece always had a different tone when the Maws were slamming the girls.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | August 5, 2009 5:09 PM | Report abuse

I empathize, Chris. Trying to find new and interesting ways as a journalist to entertain a public that wants its news ever more exciting and dramatic by the day -- and don't deny it, fellow commenters, you know that even if your No. 1 priority is plain, boring truth, you're in the minority -- means an enormous amount of experimentation. And the majority of experiments are unsuccessful. It sounds like Mouthpiece Theater picked up quite a following from the Fix regulars, but didn't really draw in a new audience, which is forever the risk in that kind of venture. But you can't be blamed for trying something new.

The problem I suspect a lot of journalists in your position would have is a nervousness over how much you can get away with. I'm not talking, here, about a good-natured jab or two at a certain former first lady, but the risk that any comment you make, even in jest, might color your writing in the eyes of readers. A few posters on this message board have clearly decided that you're dead-set against their personal political philosophies, but aside from that, it seems like most posters regard you as, if not ideologically smack in the middle, then dedicated to not letting your writing lean either left or right. As you know, all it takes is one misinterpreted comment -- even if it's balanced out by the rest of the piece in question -- to get the "Oh, everyone in the media is against me!" crowd a-squawkin'.

Professionally, I doubt I'd have the stones to take that risk of coloring my writing for the sake of presenting an entertaining new feature that could take the world by storm. So you've got my kudos for chancing it.

For what it's worth, I didn't watch Mouthpiece Theater, but I doubt I would have been offended by the joke in question, primarily because I'm pretty much not offended by anything.

Posted by: GJonahJameson | August 5, 2009 5:08 PM | Report abuse

@JRM2: there's no point correcting him. He's an idiot who will never learn and has never acknowledged being wrong. He'll just repeat the same lies in the very next post. Save your breath.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

Incidentally, has a defense of the video.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 5, 2009 5:05 PM | Report abuse

"Let me guess, though, you do think that pResident Obama "apologized" to Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge Police department, right?

Posted by: JakeD | "
They didn't deserve an apology from Obama because they conducted an illegal arrest and altered police records or incorrectly filled them out. They are supposed to know the law, so in that regard, the Cambridge Police Department acted "stupidly"

Posted by: JRM2 | August 5, 2009 5:02 PM | Report abuse

I usually get on FIX from work, so I don't have a lot of scope to watch the videos, but I did enjoy the two or three that I saw.

Always good to experiment and being funny is like any other skill. Comes with practice.

Posted by: DDAWD | August 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I think you did a a bad piece of comedy. Period. How do comics get better they flop and learn. Unfortunately people have no sense of humor any more. You pissed off the left wing which really have no sense of humor.

Just leave this to Chris Rock etc.

Thanks for trying.

I love the fix. I think it is very balanced.

Posted by: markmc27 | August 5, 2009 4:59 PM | Report abuse


I've been reading your blog regularly since the primaries and I think you're at your best when you deliver concise, and clearly, passionate, analysis of the political world. I'm glad you'll be able to focus your full attention on continuing that effort.

Posted by: RedPepper87 | August 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

It's what happens when a couple of amateurs try to pass themselves off as comedians

Posted by: JRM2 | August 5, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

To MarkinJC: you should chill out and quit calling for people's jobs. That's equally stupid and humorless.

Posted by: not_that | August 5, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

To michaeljamesdrew: They did actually reference "Bitter Woman" beer, but that one was applied to Chip Pickering's wife, because she wants a divorce after being cheated on.

So as usual, their research was there, but the joke, which really was just a childish insult, was equally stupid to the one about Clinton.

The problem with the MPT bit was that the jokes were sad, the getups sadder, and they hammered it with a complete lack of self-awareness.

Posted by: not_that | August 5, 2009 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Keep right on censoring, kids. I'd expect nothing less from Freddy Hiatt's staff.

Posted by: MarkinJC | August 5, 2009 4:46 PM | Report abuse

He apologized and even offered to buy her a beer. What more do you want from him?

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 5, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

No forgiveness, Cillizza.

No mercy.

You're gonna get what Froomkin got. You and the Skull & Bonesman.

And no tears, Cillizza. Be a man. Don't be like Master Dana and have your parents hire someone to do your whining for you.

Posted by: MarkinJC | August 5, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Try to think of yourself 20 years from now. You'll be proud of every bit of straight news, real journalism, that you've been involved in bringing to us. Don't try to be a media star, even out of envy. You won't like what you think of yourself in retrospect.

Posted by: dougkahn | August 5, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Hey, Chris, thanks. I was pretty steamed by that particular joke, not because I have any problems with making fun of the SecState, but because that particular slur wasn't really relevant to any part of her recent persona except her gender. Maybe "Burqa Babe" or "Weird Schoolgirl" would have been funny (or not; I never claimed I could write comedy.) But women get enough of this b*tch business every time they dare take a power job--judge, presidential candidate, whatever.

No complaint with the general tone or tenor of your reporting or your sense of humor, but that one was more than a little tone-deaf.

Posted by: krasni | August 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse

Mouthpiece is gone.

You, Cillizza, and the Skull & Bonesman are next.

Posted by: MarkinJC | August 5, 2009 4:36 PM | Report abuse


What will you do without Master Dana to slap you around and make you grovel like the lower class type you are?

I mean, if the Skull & Bonesman doesn't let you play with his toys anymore, you'll be lost. Simply lost.

And you can forget about Master Dana ever allowing you to set foot inside his abode for a meal. You blew it, Cillizza. You failed Master Dana and his parents' money. You must be punished.

Posted by: MarkinJC | August 5, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Thank you, timmerq -- I completely agree -- there's no need to personally stalk Hillary Clinton and apologize to her while her security tackle him ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse


FWIW: no invites were actually sold.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I've been reading your blog for years now, and I have always been able to separate your journalistic insights from your comedic observations. I find your sense of humour a little corny, which is fine. Your political insights on the other hand, are unparalleled.
Also, in terms of adapting to the new journalism, you've done exceptionally well. The morning fix, friday line, most important number, parsing the polls, political hall of fame (dont forget the nominations) etc. All strokes of genious that have, in my opinion, put you at the forefront of the blogosphere and made a political junkie out of me. Dont let anyone deter you from doing what you do because of a couple of bad jokes. The extent of your apology is a perfect indication of how conscientious you are.
The last thing I will say is that there seems to be a LOT of negativity in the comments section of this blog (which you addressed in an earlier post) and a lot of it indeed aims below the belt. Dont take that kind of insidiousness to heart, especially when it attacks your sense of humour or your neutrality. Nonesense. Your wacky sense of humour adds many an eye-rolling chuckle to my morning read and I know Im not the only one who can say that. The discourse could DEFINATELY benefit from more positive and gracious voices like yours, and Im afraid its the loud, angry voices that are criticizing you now.
I like your style Chris, keep doing what you do or I might lose interest in politics altogether.

Posted by: timmerq | August 5, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

And, it is still proper etiquette to refer to a former Governor as "Gov.", thank you very much (I won't be holding my breath for an apology ; )

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:23 PM | Report abuse

No (he says to the atheist), any true Christian would understand which insult was worse.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:21 PM | Report abuse

Sarah Palin is not a "Gov." anymore. It's a private citizen and it will do anything to stay in the news, include faux outrage at imagined slights.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 4:20 PM | Report abuse

P.S. "Devil" is a worse insult (to Christians) than "b*itch".


Only to "Christians" who want to ban Halloween as Satanism.

Sheesh. Get a life.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 4:19 PM | Report abuse

How bad was it? It was dumbfoundingly ugly, mouth gaping poor nasty taste. The worst of it though, is I'm beginning to come to expect such abysmal standards from the Washington Post. The nonsense of selling invites to vested interests to discuss policy with important people at the publishers home? This dismal gutter trash posing as the muck on the underside of Limbaughs' belly. Yikes. Such a pack of pinheads, petty venal pinheads.

Posted by: ohplease2 | August 5, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse


You want Mr. Cillizza to go personally to Foggy Bottom? The above apology is not limited to his readers.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

So you write an apology to your readers..did you apologize to Mrs. Clinton? Mrs. Palin?

Besides being unfunny your grammar is poor.

Posted by: rdklingus | August 5, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse


Does that mean that Gov. Palin did NOT call herself an "Arctic Devil"?! That's progress, at least, so there's hope for you yet.

P.S. "Devil" is a worse insult (to Christians) than "b*itch".

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:13 PM | Report abuse

I'll miss Mouthpiece Theater. It was fun watching Chris an Dana embarrass themselves like that, schadenfreude-wise.
The parody "Two Guys and a Webcam" was in fact hilarious. Thanks for that, Chris.

Good for Chris for possessing the remnants of shame. His punishment is knowing clips from MT will always be around available to anyone wishing to discredit him.

Posted by: katelint | August 5, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse


Ooh boy, "Arctic Devil," what a hideous insult!!!!! Not particularly nasty, and by no means vulgar, which "Mad Bi*ch" most certainly is.

Shouldn't you be off doing something useful for the right wing, like forging Kenyan birth certificates? :-)

Posted by: Fairfax4 | August 5, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

Chris, unless you and Dana pre-planned his ill-advised barb (very possible), you are getting railroaded here, and it is honorable of you to be falling in your sword in this way. Though I think it is clear that shelving MT would have been a wise move even without this incident.

Just in passing, a bit more beer-literacy might have avoided such a serious imbrolgio, as I think referencing "Bitter Woman" would have been much closer to the crux of the humor Dana might have been aiming for. It would not have avoided the problem of going after the sitting Secretary of State with a childish insult, however.

Have a good vacation, secure in the knowledge that due to your willingness to own up to a mistake and be big enough to offer an apology, you will be returning to a job that you love in which you retain a sharp competitive advantage over others in your field.

Posted by: michaeljamesdrew | August 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse


Here's the apology to Mrs. Clinton "I would like to personally apologize for the content in last Friday's video as it was inconsistent not only with the Post brand but, more important and personal to me, the Fix brand which I have worked so hard to cultivate."

Let me guess, though, you do think that pResident Obama "apologized" to Sgt. Crowley and the Cambridge Police department, right?

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

I take issue with your comment about "Operation Dumbo Drop." That movie was at least entertaining and, at times, actually funny. "Mickey Mouthpiece Theater," ... not so much.

Posted by: randron | August 5, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

You got confused dude. You heard that Jon Stewart is the most trusted newsman in the country and just assumed telling jokes was the key. It isn't. Telling the truth is. Not playing the false equivalency game is...Stewart doesn't lend credibility to both sides if it's not earned. Calling out BS on either side is. Jon Stewart is a better and more trusted newsman than you or your colleagues because his is a fact based program, not a Drudge based program or a RNC talking point based program. The fact that he does it using comedy is besides the point. Have we come to the point where we can no longer trust American CORPORATIONS to tell us the truth about our country and the issues at hand? Absolutely. The fact is corporate interests have destroyed our economy and those same corporations own the media. It's a clear case the conflicting priorities of American corporations vs. the American people.

Posted by: duckofdeath | August 5, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

You hide behind journalistic hubris to let
us know "to err is human"---blah blah blah
and apologized to your employer to save your standing with the Post. You apologized to everyone that could possibly put a dent in your career, hiding behind the excuse of trying out something new etc etc. How lame and laughable.
Where is your apology to Hillary Clinton? You and Milbanks have developed a little tag team of writing nasty things about her. Maybe instead of trying out all these supposedly
innovative new journalism tecniques,(which misses the mark by a city block) you should
go back to basics and try to be a little
more Walter Cronkite than Bill O'Reiley.

Posted by: Kavanaugh1 | August 5, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

You hide behind journalistic hubris to let
us know "to err is human"---blah blah blah
and apologized to your employer to save your standing with the Post. You apologized to everyone that could possibly put a dent in your career, hiding behind the excuse of trying out something new etc etc. How lame and laughable.
Where is your apology to Hillary Clinton? You and Milbanks have developed a little tag team of writing nasty things about her. Maybe instead of trying out all these supposedly
innovative new journalism tecniques,(which misses the mark by a city block) you should
go back to basics and try to be a little
more Walter Cronkite than Bill O'Reiley.

Posted by: Kavanaugh1 | August 5, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

More twisted "logic" from the left (on another thread):

"Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and Nancy Pelosi are decent and warm human beings. Sarah Palin is a stupid and vicious harpy whose entry into the national stage was a snotty and nasty speech loaded with dog-whistle and put-downs. Her entire political shtick is limited to stroking the insecurity and conceit of small-town bigots."

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 1, 2009 11:47 AM

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

This is a classy post from Chris Cillizza, long may he roam these "pages".

Posted by: douglaslbarber | August 5, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse


I can't wait for your twisted "logic" to somehow claim that Gov. Palin called herself an "Arctic DEVIL" too.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

Chris - Just stay away from that pompous twit Dana, and you will be fine. He drags you waaaaaaaaaaay down.

Posted by: stewiegriffen | August 5, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

"that name-calling is never the stuff of good comedy"

Name-calling isn't incompatible with good comedy. It is, however, incompatible with good journalism. The problem is that you can't be both a journalist and a comedian.

Posted by: Blarg | August 5, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

The Republican Elephant of the Day on duty in the front room of the RNC headquarters (Steele's office is in the back) slowly shakes its head, belches, takes in anther load of hay with its trunk and thinks to itself that East Coast Media Liberal Chris is no Republican because whenever a Republican is caught and forced to apologize, the prefix of the forced perfunctory apology is always, "If (cue to listener to infer: 'in the highly unlikely event') I have offended anyone,..."

Posted by: Patriot3 | August 5, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

From a completely selfish perspective it's easier for me to surreptitiously peek at your writing while I'm at the office than it is for me to get away with watching video. ;-)

Posted by: kingpigeon | August 5, 2009 3:49 PM | Report abuse

"At least Hillary hasn't had to explain how much she spent on every outfit she wears..."

No, she just had to put up with years of constant rumors that she was a lesbian, that she'd had an affair with Vince Foster, and that she was complicit in his "murder." You know, harmless, trivial gossip like that.

BTW, Ms. Palin is the one who declared herself a Hockey Mom, and stated that the only difference between an HM and a pitbull is lipstick, which means that she for all intents and purposes called herself a bi*ch. I really you probably aren't much for appreciating irony, but you might try thinking out your preconceived notions when you post in comment threads like this.

Posted by: Fairfax4 | August 5, 2009 3:48 PM | Report abuse

I only watched MPT a couple of times and confess it did not do much for me. But at least it was always clearly satire.

Posted by: CntrvilleCitoyen | August 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Watched a few seconds of the first one, didn't see the humor, never watched again.

But I didn't see liking/disliking the stab at humor as a "left right" issue.

For some reason the GOP trolls see it as nothing but. Then again, they see everything as a "left wing" plot.

Posted by: chrisfox8 | August 5, 2009 3:46 PM | Report abuse

"I think "Mouthpiece Theatre" was a hoot.. . . I guess Washington doesn't have a sense of humor after all."

You sound like Bruno Kirby in "Good Morning Vietnam." "Sir, in my heart I know I'm funny!"

OTOH, I applaud Mr. Cillizza for his dignified and intelligent post. And to be fair, most people doing this sort of thing are going to be either hit and miss at first, or just downright lousy. Most such people get to make their mistakes in the obscurity of a comedy club, or open-mike night at the local bar. Cillizza and Milbank had to work the kinks out of their act with a far larger audience than they should have been exposed to. It couldn't have been easy.

Posted by: Fairfax4 | August 5, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse


Yep, that is the hypocrisy of the libs.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 3:40 PM | Report abuse

Glad Mouthpiece is gone. I am frustrated by the number of typos showing up in your posts over the past several months (in the latter months pre-Baby Fix). I think both are symptomatic of trying to do too much and not doing a few things well. I'd encourage you to get back to the basics that have kept people coming back to The Fix for years (5 years in my case!)...

Posted by: PMinDC | August 5, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

"As Howard Kurtz is now reporting, Mouthpiece Theater is no more."

Another critical scoop by Kurtz. Dare I say Pulitzer?


Posted by: bsimon1 | August 5, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Dear Chris,

To be honest, I won't miss Mouthpiece Theater, although I made a point of watching it. The idea just didn't click (in the words of Maxwell Smart, you "missed it by that much!"). Like you I see no shame in a failed creative experiment. Given how it turned out, though, I'm glad to see it's now gone cleanly and swiftly so you don't have to think about it any more.

The experiment that succeeded is your use of Twitter. Your tweet-based coverage of the RNC election that led to Michael Steele was more timely than anything else on the Web, and it got me to sign up for the service. Don't stop the successful experiment (the Fix on Twitter) just because this other one failed. Although of course I assume it will be on hiatus while you're away.

Now please go and have a great Fix vacation.

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | August 5, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

I didn't see the Mouthpiece in question, but from the comments it appears that the great transgression was calling Hillary a bad name?

I wonder how many of those on this board who found this so offensive are the same ones who have called Sarah Palin the same word...and much worse.

At least Hillary hasn't had to explain how much she spent on every outfit she wears...

Hypocrisy of liberals lives!

Posted by: dbw1 | August 5, 2009 3:35 PM | Report abuse

The biggest sin of all? It just wasn't funny. I hear comedians say things I disagree with all the time - but I'm laughing too hard to complain.

Posted by: uberblonde1 | August 5, 2009 3:34 PM | Report abuse

" is never the stuff of good comedy..."

Actually, Fix, there is a ballroom full of Democrats listening to Wanda Sykes who would disagree. They stoop to that sort of thing all the time and find it quite knee-slapping.

Posted by: dbw1 | August 5, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

And this is why old media continues to fail. When you make the tiniest error, you INSIST on this self-flagellation. This is the Web! Experiment, succeed, fail, flail!, learn, all as fast as you can. Old media is NOT fast, and it is terrified of change. And so you have ... this. Too bad.

Posted by: Craig_Colgan | August 5, 2009 3:30 PM | Report abuse


Nice try. Accusing the Post of being 'conservative' is like accusing Democrats of being fiscally responsible...

Posted by: dbw1 | August 5, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse


I was speaking to "nautachris21", and I was not "equating" the two words (Devil is much worse than b*tch, even if you and the automated content-filter disagree).

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

""The withering and often personal criticism of Milbank and Cillizza exploded Friday afternoon after the liberal Web site Talking Points Memo posted and criticized the latest video. Both men, who frequently appear on television, became high-profile targets, particularly among left-leaning bloggers but also on such outlets as Twitter. ""

I guess the word is out on who butters your bread.
Quelle surprise!

Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Our long national nightmare is finally over. Seriously though, I'm surprised the BOD didn't liquidate the entire flailing WashPost for being a dismal failure in the modern media and a tragic shadow of what it once was.

I really and truly hate what its become. Once my primary source for information, now a third-rate, fourth-tier blog best left to satire sites like Wonkette to offer the occasional sad link.

Posted by: TboneRex | August 5, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

JakeD - Only you would equate " Arctic Devil" with "B*tch". Only you, Jake.

Posted by: DROSE1 | August 5, 2009 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Chris, you mentioned the problems that Mouthpiece Theater caused to the Post's brand. What is that brand, exactly?

Seems to me that calling HRC a b!tch is right in line with the brand of a company that publishes George Will, David Broder, and Charles Krauthammer. This paper regularly publishes writers who intentionally attempt to confuse readers with out-right lies and half-truth in order to advance conservative political positions. When your readers alert the "editors" to the factual errors in your paper they inevitably excuse those errors rather than correcting them and publishing apologies.

Given the Post's spotty track-record of reporting facts, I'm actually surprised they pulled the plug on you. After all, Will and Krauthammer are still employed. (And Froomkin, the one guy at the Post who DID have a track record of reporting facts, got fired.)

The problem that MPT caused the Post wasn't that you reflected poorly on its Post's brand. The problem is that you and Milbank reflected it too accurately.

Posted by: choskasoft | August 5, 2009 3:22 PM | Report abuse

I think I hated every episode of mouthpiece I watched. I didn't look at the last episodes. You were took the same swings at the same people in the same way that others did. Hectic noise was used in place of wit. Big set-ups for small jokes. What was funny in print came off as juvenile and smirky on video. Dana in particular ratchets everything up so that he really has to stay in print.

And, yes, I did feel that there was a different tone employed when you slammed the girls. B1tch is like darkie, a really marginalizing word. Just as a black person cannot do anything about his black skin, a woman cannot do anything about being perceived as a b1tch. It's one of those words that men think we all agree on the definition of, and we really don't.

Posted by: margaretmeyers | August 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I still love you, Chris. You are awesome and bring a smile to my face every weekday morning. Don't beat yourself up too much over one minor mistake.

Posted by: yalie10 | August 5, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I think "Mouthpiece Theatre" was a hoot.

I'm sorry it didn't work out.

I guess Washington doesn't have a sense of humor after all.

Posted by: bmschumacher | August 5, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

Interesting that you have inserted a declaration that good old fashioned journalism is dead. not surprising since you have so cavalierly practiced it for so long.

Maybe its just professional journalists that are no more.

I never watched one of those stupid things. why would a self- respecting person do such a thing?

but at least, unlike Obimbo, you are capable of apology.


Posted by: king_of_zouk | August 5, 2009 3:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm glad you realize that you are not funny on camera and that you are fortunate to have the job you have.

Maybe you could tell Milbank that those are both true about him as well.

Posted by: mukome | August 5, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse


I would like to thank for the incredible job you are doing at making politics understandable and engaging for all your readers. In fact, it was this very blog that completely hooked me on the ups-and-downs of American politics back in December 2007 (I think I started reading The Fix the day Evan Bayh formed his exploratory committee.) That's no small feat, entertaining an audience from all over the world.

I may think that some of your analysis is too caught up in the Beltway squabble (Gates-gate and all that) but together with a handful of other political journalists, you definitely inform my views. I love The Fix, and I hope that now that the Mouthpiece distraction is over, The Fix will come back stronger than ever.

I never really cared for MT, but I still think you went a little too far in your apology. Yes, I think it was appropriate to apologize for the latest MT skit, but you don't have to apologize for your sense of humor. Every day on this blog, you prove that you can be both enlightening and funny.

Keep it up.

Regards from Norway.

Posted by: ungelien | August 5, 2009 3:12 PM | Report abuse

You were really lousy. Glad you didn't loose your job like Froomkin. OTOH, Maybe you should have for being so lousy.

Posted by: girard73 | August 5, 2009 3:11 PM | Report abuse

You were really lousy. Glad you didn't loose your job like Froomkin. OTOH, Maybe you should have for being so lousy.

Posted by: girard73 | August 5, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

I definitely didn't find it funny. I don't think it's enough to try for political satire; you have to get there. Satire that falls flat often ends up being worse than unfunny; it's offensive. Along those lines were Friday's joke. It just wasn't okay, largely because rather than undercut a sexist but dominant media trope regarding Secretary Clinton, it reaffirmed it. The existence of that trope does a disservice to her, to politics, and to ambitious women the world over.

But hey, every one in media sticks a foot in his/her mouth every once in a while. I'd be incline to say "Bygones..." even without an apology, except:

My biggest problem with MT was the premise. "Two of the biggest maws in Washington" provides an accurate take on Dana, what with his orange hunting vests and apparent disdain for the entire concept of political reporting. But that's never been you. And for you to take up being a "maw" serves to undermine the fine work you do, day in and day out.

Obviously, it's your right to take your work in a new direction, but you've long been so good at what you do that it would be disappointing for the likes of MT to be that direction. I for one am glad to see you're sticking with the straight dope, as it were.

So thanks for acknowledging the kerfuffle. Glad it's over, but I'm not going to hold it against you. Now back to telling me all about the whispers in the political world.

Posted by: OpieCurious | August 5, 2009 3:09 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I'm sorry to hear this. I laughed at the beer piece (well, not at the Hillary joke; that just made me wince a little). I salute the two of you for being willing to step out of the comfort zone and tweak a few noses. I hope the Post's sour reaction does not discourage you from experimenting with other methods of communicating with your audience.

Posted by: jgranati | August 5, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Apology accepted, Chris. Inside the beltway horsing around is best left for the lunch break or the Christmas party.

Your audience is desperate for real reporting and accountability. Chris, you have clearly demonstrated you are capable of being an exceptional journalist. Please stick to what you are good at and you will reap the rewards.

If one looks at my comments history, I thrash WaPo on a regular basis. This is not one of those times.

Best of luck and enjoy your vacation.

Posted by: koolaid1 | August 5, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse


No one complained about them calling Sarah Palin an "Arctic Devil" ...

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 3:02 PM | Report abuse

Keep writing, reporting, blogging and tweeting Chris and I'll keep reading. Love your "I'm a real person" style and humility. Cheers!

Posted by: lindaj4 | August 5, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

For the record, I like political comedian Mark Russell too.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 3:00 PM | Report abuse

Wow people on the left need to really get a life - aren't there more important things to waste time complaining about? I thought it was absolutely hilarious and made my entire Friday. Obviously there was no ill will intended. How dare the "mainstream media" try something non-PC. Well keep up the good work anyway!

Posted by: nautachris23 | August 5, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Hi, Chris. It was worth a try, but I agree that it didn't work. Being consistently funny on schedule is really hard. Besides, success in humor is defined by the audience. Being a success as a reporter is more (but not only) about achieving personal goals over which you have more direct control. Good luck with your next experiment.

Posted by: frodot | August 5, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

Bummer. I thought that bit was very funny. (But then I voted for Obama, twice).I bet Bill Clinton would ahve laughed too (if his wife was not around).Mouthpiece will be missed. I understand its hard to be both a reporter and a comedian. Only Jon Stewart has been able to pull that off. But there's no character flaw in trying.

Posted by: dmooney | August 5, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

Bummer. I thought that bit was very funny. (But then I voted for Obama, twice).I bet Bill Clinton would ahve laughed too (if his wife was not around).Mouthpiece will be missed. I understand its hard to be both a reporter and a comedian. Only Jon Stewart has been able to pull that off. But there's no character flaw in trying.

Posted by: dmooney | August 5, 2009 2:52 PM | Report abuse

I have to add: completely agree with AndyGeorge and will be following his link.

Posted by: ceirdwenfc | August 5, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I had no problem with the last Mouthpiece Theatre. I did think with the MB brand, 'oh no did they really say that?', but I also felt that it was in good fun and not actually meant to be anything other than tongue-in-cheek.

I love your column here, and began following you on Twitter pretty much as soon as you started there. I like your commentaries which I watch on MSNBC.

I think that we take things too seriously and people need to lighten up.

I would miss Mouthpiece Theatre, but if you feel you need to end it, I would hope that you would do some other political thing that's different.

Sometimes we need to hear things in a different way. People follow Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, watch the JibJab videos more than they read the newspapers. They need to be brought back to the newspapers and I think that Mouthpiece Theatre is another avenue to bring them in to see the reporters.

I read your Spector pieces when he changed parties and your Sanford pieces. I love the number of the day, and that you bring a comfort to hearing about the politics (although I should admit that I'm a junkie for politics.)

For the entire last year, my kids only saw two channels: MSNBC and the Disney channel. They know Barack Obama and Keith Olbermann on sight. I show them pictures of Charlie Fix from your twitter. I feel more in tune with the news because I feel more involved with the news.

I'm 42 (not quite the demographic), so this is all new to me, and a very exciting time for journalism.

Sorry for being so long-winded. It's been a problem in everything I'm doing today.

Thanks for reading along.

Posted by: ceirdwenfc | August 5, 2009 2:49 PM | Report abuse

Sad to see it go. I felt no discord between your role as a professional journalist and your time goofing off on Mouthpiece. You aren't a comedian but have a keen wit, so I will just hope it remains a steadfast contribution to your writing on the fix.

Posted by: brownm1 | August 5, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Oh, for God's sakes. It was a Joke. Just a joke, and frankly if Secretary Clinton had seen it she would have laughed at it too. If people don't want a funny look at the news, they shouldn't click on the link.

What's most disappointing, is the cowardly way in which the Washington Post management has left the two of you to twist in the wind, particularly Dana who has always been known as a funny guy.

Slate has an excellent piece about it: If I were you, Chris, I'd have stood my ground on this.

Posted by: AndyGeorge | August 5, 2009 2:46 PM | Report abuse

"Former Governor Sarah Palin, of course, accepts Chris Cillizza's apology on behalf of all hard-assed women politicians."

- Meghan Stapleton

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry it had to happen this way, but I think your blog will be much, much better for it

Posted by: kdemko | August 5, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Chris--Love ya man, but I hated "Mouthpiece." Glad you stopped. You're better than that!

Posted by: soonerthought | August 5, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Chris. I enjoyed most of what you and Dana did on Mouthpiece.

I understand folding the tent, but I am a little disappointed that you did it so soon after the censorship of last Friday. At least you poked back in Tuesday's piece.

Posted by: mikeinmidland | August 5, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

Chris, I know that I have criticized the Theatre, because I thought it took something away from your seriousness as a commentator. [Maybe if it hadn't been linked to The Fix?] And although I have been a critic, I should have praised more -- you're pretty good! A mild rightwing Beltway bias, but I digress.

I read about this elsewhere, and I am sorry they came down on you. It was actually pretty funny, and the 'objectionable' stuff was so nothing as to be silly.

Posted by: drindl | August 5, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

"I am better writing about the news than being in the news."

One a related topic, journalism's problem (nemesis) has always been its desire to be the news rather than report the news.

Reporters covering reporters is one of the reasons no one cares about reporters any more.

Posted by: shrink2 | August 5, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I thought "Mouthpiece Theater" was funny myself, but then again I enjoy the Colbert-type sarcasm you were shooting for.

Posted by: JakeD | August 5, 2009 2:35 PM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company