Punchbowl Information Launches Podcast As D.C. Highlight Shifts To Capitol: Q&A – .

When Punchbowl News, a startup of Politico veterans, hit the market earlier this month, it promised politics from a different angle from DC: The Capitol, which is often overshadowed by national coverage of the chaos in the White House.

Its focus has proven to be somewhat random over the past month, with the siege of the Capitol, a second impeachment and inauguration – and much more in February.

“Anna and I firmly believe that Congress and legislation are at the center of the political universe,” said Jake Sherman, who co-founded the site with Anna Palmer and co-founder John Bresnahan.

On Monday, Sherman and Palmer will be launching an early morning podcast for Entercoms Cadence 13, The Daily Punch, covering the events of the day in DC. The impartial focus is on “Insiders in Washington and how people exercise power, but in a really accessible way,” says Palmer.

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“We don’t hunt shiny objects,” she says. “We write about things that move the political markets, so to speak, and this is our north star – power, people and politics and the consequences of these things.”

What sets her content apart is the focus on the Congress beat (Punchbowl is the Secret Service’s nickname for the Capitol) she wrote for more than a decade, the last four years as authors of the Politico Playbook newsletter and 2019 as authors of the bestseller The Hill to Die On: The Struggle for Congress and the Future of Trump’s America.

Palmer and Sherman shared their insights into one of the most significant months at the Capitol in recent times and the future.

.: We are more than three weeks away from the siege of the Capitol. What is the memory that you still notice today?

JAKE SHERMAN [who was at the Capitol along with Bresnahan, while Palmer was at her home nearby]: From a 30,000 foot point of view, [we] I’ve worked together in this building for more than a decade. So it would be like people walking into your house and terrorizing your home. This is the place we know best and people knocked on our door and knocked on the door outside. They smashed the glass on one of the front doors 150 feet from us. So these pictures will stay with me for a long time, and to be honest, many people in the press corps have a hard time with them. It was quite a traumatic experience.

ANNA PALMER: It’s a place where rules and decency, almost from another time, are followed, and usually with a strong police force. I always said whenever there was protests … this is the safest place in all of Washington. I think the bubble really popped this month.

.: There is now an intense security situation in the Capitol, with National Guard troops and fences around the complex. Do you think a lot of it will be permanent?

SHERMAN: Yes I do. I don’t think it will be as permanent as it is now, but I don’t think we’ll ever get back to exactly where it was.

PALMER: I was in the Capitol in 1998 when the two police officers were shot. Whenever there’s some kind of attack or something that happens in the event of a security breach, things move further away. It’s harder to get into the building. I mean, it’s really like a war zone with National Guards now. I honestly hope that’s not the case [permanently]but I see it for the foreseeable future until they have a clearer understanding of what exactly happened.

.: How do you think this will change for journalists?

SHERMAN: We hope they don’t comply and limit our access, and we don’t expect them to. But between this and Covid it has become more difficult. Our jobs will change. That sounds cheesy, but the mission doesn’t have it. We have yet to receive information from members of Congress.

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DEADLINE: You had news this week that Kevin McCarthy, Chairman of the Minority of the House, was visiting Mar-a-Lago. Since the siege, there appears to have been a trend among Republican lawmakers to endorse Trump or quell criticism. What happened?

SHERMAN: The base and the base still agree with Trump, period. I think McCarthy represents a Republican house conference still in step with Trump and still from districts where Trump is extremely popular. It is a political imperative for him to be with Trump. To be honest, nothing is going to change. The people who want McCarthy to be some kind of Never Trumper after Trump’s defeat – that just won’t happen. You see what happened to Liz Cheney [who voted for Trump’s impeachment]. Lots of people turn against her and she could lose her leadership position because she is against Trump. I think the idea that people will somehow turn against Trump is a fantasy. Some will if it is in their best interest, but most people won’t.

.: What do people misunderstand about Mitch McConnell?

SHERMAN: I think people get a lot wrong. I think Mitch McConnell’s whole maxim is, “Hit me if you can and if you can’t, be calm.” Mitch McConnell takes care of one thing and it wins. He obviously has an ideological point of view – he’s a Conservative, he’s a Republican. His view of the world is very black and white, which means he will use his strength with maximum effort and maximum speed, and the only way to stop him is to have the voices to stop him. We saw that at the Supreme Court. We’ve seen that all along. Right now we’re seeing his power waning a bit, but that’s his maxim. People over-analyze it when it really is that black and white.

.: Same question about Nancy Pelosi. What do people not understand about her?

PALMER: The policies of Nancy Pelosi and Mitch McConnell couldn’t be more different, but they exercise power in very similar ways, with one goal in mind and then single-handedly working towards it. They are not moved by the political winds or popularity, even within their own conference or caucus, and they are politicians of a generation, of a lifetime. And we will probably never see two leaders in Congress as powerful as we have in our lives with them.

SHERMAN: Also people try to characterize her as “limousine liberals”, as a rich woman from San Francisco – and she is a rich woman from San Francisco. It is a fact. But she grew up in Baltimore with a father who was party leader, member of Congress, and mayor of Baltimore. And that’s how she learned politics. She was raised to understand the nature of the inner workings of big city politics.

.: We are in the Biden presidency for one week. Is this bipartisan spirit already fading or was it not there at all?

SHERMAN: I think it probably wasn’t there from the start, but there are things they can do together and there are areas of overlapping political interest, I am thinking of Covid Relief and maybe infrastructure and things like that. But that is not the west wing. This is real politics and complicated people with complicated motives. They are insincere, many of them. They are not being honest about why they are doing things. You may be honest in person, but it’s difficult to analyze the situation differently. People will help Biden if it is in their best interest, but they will not help him just to help him.

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FRIST: How is the impeachment environment now different from a year ago?

SHERMAN: Not a ton has changed. Republicans will not vote to condemn Donald Trump in large numbers. You will vote to acquit him and nothing will change what we can see now. I wonder when people will somehow realize that. You saw almost every Republican a few days ago who voted to make the impeachment process unconstitutional. The idea that there is a movement to step Trump overboard and ban him from future office currently has no evidence to support it. When I speak to people on Capitol Hill, they don’t understand how people get the story so wrong.

DEADLINE: Marjorie Taylor Greene is getting a lot of attention, also because of the recent revelations of what she previously posted on Facebook. Did you meet her and what is she like?

SHERMAN: I met her. We look at her through the lens of leadership and what the leadership will do about it because she is someone who has expressed all sorts of inappropriate views. I can’t tell you what she is right now, but she was a supporter of QAnon – the silly, dangerous QAnon movement. Kevin McCarthy knew this when she came to Congress. He said he would have talks with her and asked the press corps to give her a chance. We have now given her a chance. And whether you see it as an opportunity or not, she has proven that these are indeed her beliefs.

PALMER: I think it will be something that we will cover in detail, as I think it says a lot about the future of the Republican Party. … I think it will be a real challenge for you. So far, Kevin McCarthy doesn’t like putting the hammer on people; that’s not his style. So this will be very instructive in how he deals with them now.

.: is that a challenge for you? How much attention do you give to a member who is a follower of QAnon?

SHERMAN: It’s something we wrestle with in real time. We try to focus on the people who make decisions. Marjorie Taylor Greene is in no way, form or shape dispositive for the government process. But we need to cover them to let our readership know where the Republican Party is going. So that’s how we think about it.

PALMER: We’re really trying to find the signal through the noise. You could be chasing shiny objects all day and I think we will try to keep focusing on the leadership, the White House and the industries that are trying to influence them. In so far as we treat other people, it really is through the lens of “Why does it matter? What effects do they have on the entire structure of government, leadership and power? “

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