Episode 25: The Greatest Show on Earth


If you’ve ever watched or heard a State of the Union address, you might think the event starts like this:  “Mr. Speaker! The President of the United States!”

But, as is true with so many things in Washington, there’s more to the story. A lot more.

The State of the Union address – SOTU as it’s known in Washington – is a mass media event that takes hours, no, make that days, no, make that months, of preparation.

The SOTU is highly orchestrated by the White House, by members of Congress, by the news media.

For many reporters, the speech itself is a blip. Their focus is Statuary Hall, which is a short walk from the House chamber where the president gives the annual speech.

“Stat Hall” – more jargon used by the Washington in-crowd – is interview central. A lot of lawmakers pass through the hall on their way to the address – some of them stopping to give reporters their response to a speech they have not yet heard – and almost all of them head to “Stat Hall” after the speech for the media after party. A few of the lawmakers are high-profile enough for reporters to flock to them when they enter the hall; most line up at one of many television interview locations and wait for their turn in front of the camera.

It’s a media mob scene.

To give you a sense of the entire day it takes news crews to set up and cover the mob, we perched a camera on a balcony overlooking the room and produced a time-lapse video of the craziness.

And to find out how the SOTU became such a circus – think of Stat Hall as the Big Top – listen to DecodeDC’s latest podcast: Ladies and gentlemen, the greatest show on earth!


Episode 24: The Real Fight Over Unemployment Benefits

If you've been tuning into the nightly news, you've heard the wrangling over unemployment benefits. It's not really about whether to extend them. It's about how to do it.


DecodeDC Acquired by E.W. Scripps; Expanding Staff and Mission

DecodeDC, the podcast, radio show and reporting brand, has been acquired by the E.W. Scripps company and will join its storied Washington, DC news bureau, founder and host Andrea Seabrook announced today.

“I’m thrilled,” said Seabrook. “It has always been my goal to cover Washington in a fresh new way, leaving behind the tired old cliches of political news. Scripps believes in that vision too, and has invested in expanding DecodeDC.”

Seabrook will join Scripps as well, continuing as the Anchor and Senior Editor of DecodeDC’s content. She previously spent more than a decade at NPR, reporting on Congress and hosting its nationally syndicated news programs. Seabrook left NPR in 2012 and founded DecodeDC with more than $100,000 raised through the crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.

“The mission of DecodeDC is to tell the REAL stories in politics -- and to ignore the left/right theater that is dramatized by politicians and reported by the media on a daily basis,” said Seabrook. “I couldn’t be happier to find such an enthusiastic partner in Scripps, with its stellar legacy of truth-telling.”

Listeners will continue to find DecodeDC podcasts on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and other listening platforms, as well as on the website, DecodeDC.com. As it joins Scripps’ Washington, DC Bureau, DecodeDC will expand into the company’s newspapers, television stations, and digital properties.

Episode 23: Morality 2.0

Which is worse: breaking the law to leak classified secrets?  Or keeping quiet about what could be a violation of Americans' constitutional rights?  Andrea Seabrook talks to an expert who believes that these modern times call for a Morality 2.0.

Episode 22: Open and Shut Congress

The government shutdown may be over, but has anything really changed? Andrea talks to Patti Daniels of Vermont Public Radio about the problems that caused the shutdown and which still plague Washington.

Special thanks to Vermont Public Radio for this episode.