Shane BarnhillMonday,11 November 2013

The Snap:

Last Thursday, the Not Safe For Work Corporation laid off three of its staff members, including Olivia Nuzzi, who covered politics for the company. Nuzzi is a New York-based journalist whose bio on NSFWCorp reads, “Olivia Nuzzi was described by Anthony Weiner’s campaign as a ‘slutbag’, a ‘cunt’ and a ‘twat.'” And while that statement is accurate — Barbara Morgan, the communications director for Weiner’s mayoral campaign, did unjustly malign Nuzzi before apologizing — that’s not why you should get to know her.

Instead, you should keep an eye on Nuzzi as a future star in political reporting. Her humor, wit and intelligence shine in her many pieces for NSFWCorp, which range from coverage of household names such as Dennis Kucinich and Chris Christie to lesser-known figures like Rush D. Holt, Jr. Her talent practically guarantees that she’ll land somewhere else quickly, but in the meantime, you can follow Nuzzi on Twitter. I’m a big fan of Nuzzi’s work, and thus, I was thrilled when she agreed to an interview for TSD. You can read the transcript of our interview below.

The Download:

The Snap Download: You were recently laid off from NSFWCorp, which has been struggling for months to prove the viability of its subscriber-supported business model. What will you take away from your experience there?

Nuzzi: I was gearing up to start as a staff writer at NSFW during the Weiner campaign episode. Things that I had understood intellectually about journalism before that event, I began to understand in a way that I suppose you only can if you are the topic being written about. If you’re a writer and you get something wrong in a story, maybe you’ll get called out on it and it will be momentarily embarrassing and you’ll beat yourself up about it, or maybe it will go unnoticed. But for the person you’re writing about — whatever you write becomes part of the larger narrative about their life. And unfortunately, a lot of people writing don’t bother to do much of their own research, and they instead base their pieces on items that have already been written on that topic. Before, selfishly, I think I mostly didn’t want to get even the smallest thing wrong because I was scared that I would look stupid or not be taken seriously if I did. Now, I know that I owe it to everyone involved in the story and anyone who might read it to let the facts get in the way.

The Snap Download: What did you learn from Paul Carr?

Nuzzi: Paul puts integrity before page views. He never pressured me to do anything that I didn’t feel comfortable with, and in the beginning, I was consistently surprised by that. I think a lot of other editors would have wanted to exploit me rather than protect my reputation. And in terms of what I took away journalistically from Paul — there was never a sense at NSFW that you should be trying to get a piece of the “hot” story; it was about getting the entire best story.

The Snap Download: Recently, you attended Chris Christie’s election night celebration. You’ve also written about Christie’s veto of New Jersey’s S.1921, which would ban sow gestation crates, and about the Governor’s position on marriage equality. What do the next 12-18 months hold for Chris Christie?

Nuzzi: I think Christie will spend the next 12-18 months padding his list of accomplishments in New Jersey so that he will be able to tout them on the campaign trail. As outlined in the leaks from “Double Down,” Christie has quite a lot of baggage — his record in New Jersey is mediocre at best, with big — often completely unnecessary — spending, high unemployment, high taxes and high fees. I think he’ll spend his time before the race officially begins trying to repair some of that damage. And he’ll also continue to make legislative decisions with primary states in mind, just as he did with S.1921, which was a nod to Iowa donors, and with his gay marriage vetoes and appeal.

The Snap Download: If he decides to run for President, then do you think Christie’s appeal — he won re-election by a huge margin — will translate to a national audience?

Nuzzi: Yes. Christie is a spectacular politician and I completely disagree with people who think his “Jersey attitude” might be off-putting to middle America. With that said, I don’t know if the way that Christie governs in New Jersey would translate as easily to Washington.

The Snap Download: What issues will define American politics between now and 2016?

Nuzzi: I hope the cost of higher education will become a key issue, but we’ll probably just continue to argue about the Obamacare website and Benghazi for a few more years.

The Snap Download: After attending a Stop Watching Us rally, you described the attendees as a “mass of slightly different variations of the same disenfranchised citizen.” But what stood out to me from that article came near the end, where you wrote, “I watch as protesters step on the flyers of Edward Snowden’s face, many of which now litter the ground.” There’s a lot of symbolism there. Can you give us the Rap Genius-style annotation of that line?

Nuzzi: Well, that was what I saw as I was leaving. I don’t think there is any way to report from a protest without it sounding like you’re criticizing the protesters or the cause itself. If I interview someone who is wearing a cape, I’m going to mention he’s wearing a cape, and then it sounds like I’m mocking him. And a good deal of protesters wear capes!

The Snap Download: You tweet about Ann Coulter from time to time, but I can’t tell whether you really “genuinely love her,” or whether you’re just having a bit of fun with your followers. What is your opinion of Ann, and why?

Nuzzi: Unfortunately, my many requests to profile Ann Coulter have gone unanswered by her people. I am serious about loving Ann Coulter — I find her fascinating. I’m very entertained by the fact that people who hate Ann Coulter don’t realize that they are the reason why she exists — without their outrage, she wouldn’t sell books, thus wouldn’t get another book deal, wouldn’t go on TV to promote her books, wouldn’t be part of the political dialogue. Liberals who are offended by Ann Coulter keep Ann Coulter in business. I think she’s very funny and I think people who are upset by her should calm down.

The Snap Download: Let’s turn away from politics to music. What genres of music are you into?

Nuzzi: I hate the term “classic rock,” but I guess that’s the only term for it. I listen to a lot of Springsteen, Bowie, Warren Zevon, Steve Earle, Lou Reed (so trendy these days!) Nico, the Violent Femmes, the Kinks, Iggy Pop, Neil Young. And then I listen to like Tame Impala, the Virgins, the Black Lips, Wavves, Ariel Pink, LCD Soundsystem, Thieves Like Us, Supergrass and Kanye (who is his own genre, in my opinion).

The Snap Download: What new music are you listening to these days?

Nuzzi: I love Sky Ferreira‘s album “Night Time, My Time” — I’m listening to that a lot lately.

The Snap Download: What’s next for you, Olivia?

Nuzzi: I’m looking forward to reporting on politics for another publication, and hopefully covering Chris Christie in the lead up to 2016.

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Hat Tips:

NSFWCorp, Image Credit: Oliva Nuzzi


  1. […] Olivia Nuzzi on NSFWCORP, Politics and Music: “Olivia Nuzzi was described by Anthony Weiner’s campaign as a ‘slutbag’, a ‘cunt’ […]

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