JOURNALIST Q&A: Gene Weingartern

Gene Weingarten is a bully. In four years of writing for The Washington Post Magazine, he's used his position to torment enough PR pros to make any hard-boiled journalist envious. Like in October 2000, when he offered to write a glowing review of any PR person's product in exchange for one tale of personal humiliation. Or the time he devoted an entire column to chastising a Porter Novelli exec for shilling Hot Pockets as an antidote to the post-9/11 blues (well, he might have had a point there). Now it's our turn. Rest assured his comments are offered in the spirit of good humor and mutual respect. (Right, Gene?).

Gene Weingarten is a bully. In four years of writing for The Washington Post Magazine, he's used his position to torment enough PR pros to make any hard-boiled journalist envious. Like in October 2000, when he offered to write a glowing review of any PR person's product in exchange for one tale of personal humiliation. Or the time he devoted an entire column to chastising a Porter Novelli exec for shilling Hot Pockets as an antidote to the post-9/11 blues (well, he might have had a point there). Now it's our turn. Rest assured his comments are offered in the spirit of good humor and mutual respect. (Right, Gene?).

PRWeek: You have a lot of fun at the expense of PR and marketing types. Did you have a bad experience as a child? Gene Weingarten: Several. I grew up in the Bronx, and the Irish kids used to beat me up all the time. When I got a little older, it was the Puerto Rican kids. Also, I was once punished for stealing an anatomically correct diagram of female genitalia from a bathroom in my doctor's office. Oh, wait. You mean a bad experience vis-á-vis PR? No. PRWeek: Then why do you hate PR people? Weingarten: We live in a hostile and troubled world in which it is unwise and uncharitable to throw around terms like "hate." So, no, I do not hate PR people. I like PR people. It's just that I like everyone else a lot more. PRWeek: Is there any way for a publicist to get on your good side without subjecting him or herself to public mortification? Weingarten: I'm glad you asked this. I will happily befriend any publicist willing to plug my hilarious new book, I'm With Stupid: One Man. One Woman. Ten Thousand Years of Misunderstanding Between the Sexes Cleared Right Up, available nationwide. I find you quite entertaining, for example. PRWeek: To celebrate the 100 millionth sale of the Guinness Book of World Records, you wrote what you hoped would be recognized as the shortest bylined article ever written ("Yay"). Did it work? Weingarten: I'm not sure. I was far too modest and noble to actually alert them to the article. I was hoping someone else would. Perhaps they will read it here. This is just another reason I like you. PRWeek: Not long ago, you declared Battle Mountain, NV, the Armpit of America, bestowing upon it great notoriety and a lot of attention from a certain deodorant manufacturer. Tell us again how journalists are different from PR people. Weingarten: Certainly. I was not paid by the deodorant manufacturer, or the town, to do this. My soul is pure. PRWeek: Please say one nice thing about PR professionals. Weingarten: They are better than marketing professionals. PRWeek: Please say one nice thing about marketing professionals. Weingarten: They are better than radical Islamic fundamentalist terrorists, probably. Name: Gene Weingarten Publication: The Washington Post Magazine Title: "Below the Beltway" columnist Preferred contact method: weingarten@washpost.com Website: washingtonpost.com

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