Having been fodder for every gossip column in town, starting today I'm turning the tables -- and becoming one D.C. gossip columnist who fully gets what it's like to be on the receiving end.
Everybody knows Washington politics is not for the meek or thin-skinned. And I've lived, worked and loved D.C. politics and media since I was 18 years old. In the years since, I've toiled on the Hill, at the State Department, in the Bush 43 administration, and for the Washington bureaus of two TV network news divisions.
I've also counted chads in the Florida recount, run for my life from the Capitol on 9/11, met four presidents, many prime ministers and most members of Congress.
I traveled to 50 countries with two secretaries of state and have been quoted in every major national newspaper.
I've been to a White House bill-signing in the Oval Office when it was occupied by President Bill Clinton when I was accompanying Majority Whip Tom DeLay, who voted to impeach him a year earlier.
In the early years, I walked Bob Dole's dog "Leader," got coffee for Tom Brokaw, staked out Monica Lewinsky, carried David Brinkley's script and answered phones at the Bush 41 re-election headquarters.
But in addition to these great experiences, I've had my share of not-so-great ones: I've been the subject of jokes by both Jay Leno and David Letterman, described as a "Jilted Fiancé" in a front page story in the Wall Street Journal -- oh joy, with a dot-matrix picture and all. I've been fictionalized in an episode of "Law & Order: Criminal Intent" -- as a murder victim, no less -- and have repeatedly been mocked by gossip columnists, front- and back-stabbed by "friends," and unfairly accused of wrongdoing by reporters.
Known as the "Palm Tree Girl" who'd supposedly knocked over a camera (which never happened) during an interview with Tim Russert, I was also defended by Jim Kennedy, Bill Clinton's communications director, in a Sunday New York Times op-ed. (I don't know Kennedy but am forever grateful for his public support, which, given my Republican views and jobs, was particularly unexpected and appreciated.)
True, I'm even better known as the "Woman Scorned" (as in "hell hath no fury") who wreaked revenge on my ex-fiancé for cheating on me by going to the FBI with evidence against him. (I think the cheating part is actually true, but the FBI part is definitely not true -- no, not even a little bit, in any form or fashion.)
Nevertheless, "Emily Miller" is a character in an upcoming movie starring Kevin Spacey. The script characterizes me as abetting a criminal enterprise, getting revenge on a cheating fiancé, and single-handedly enabling the FBI to nail lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his cohorts (and yes, lawyers are on the case).
The saga of a movie being made using my real name and character -- without my permission -- will be the subject of a future column. The tagline of this column is a reference to my initial efforts to stop the movie from using my real name and making untrue accusations. The powerful and anonymous website FamousDC wrote of me: "Emily Miller, the former DeLay spokesperson, who's afraid of nobody, recently laid some smack down on Kevin Spacey - who is playing Jack Abramoff in the movie "Casino Jack."
Meanwhile, although Jack Abramoff has admitted his crimes, he nonetheless blames me -- from his jail cell -- for bringing down the Republican Congress; ho-hum, all in a day's work for we women scorned.
Then there's my non-criminal baggage: As Tom DeLay's former communications director, I'm tagged as "radioactive" by corporate America. As Colin Powell's former press secretary, I'm suspect in conservative Republican circles. (That's because he stood up to Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld and endorsed Barack Obama for president.)
I was also press secretary for former Rep. Rick Lazio
-- who is running for New York governor -- and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice
, but no one gives a hoot about that, because there's no gossip value in that part of my résumé, which I'm sure pleases Rick and Condi.
One thing I've learned as a result of all this is that with the Google-ization of the planet, that adage about everyone getting their 15 minutes is no longer accurate; nope, with permalinks and search engines, once you get infamous, it's forever.
What surprises me still about the famous Washington political and media types, most of whom have yearned for fame since they were in diapers, is that they still think they could wake up any day and it could all be gone. So they claw and backstab to stay in public view.
They go out every night, walk red carpets to be photographed for social magazines, hold press conferences, beg TV bookers to be on low-rated cable shows, Tweet, Facebook and blog their every movement. They try to get political appointments to increase their fame, and will throw away their family lives to get on evening cable TV.
Oh, and they love being recognized in airports, though they will deny that if asked. And they especially love to fake humility by retelling stories of being recognized as someone else
who is famous.
I've been in D.C. long enough to know that people here also feel like they can't ever quite be famous enough. There's always the next person with the biography on the bestseller list or the Time magazine cover or the "60 Minutes" interview or the congressional leadership position or a spot on the lame
"50 most powerful" lists. (By the way, the truly powerful never attend the parties that celebrate these lists. They are all working.)
The only Washington types I have ever seen actually deliberately try to drop off the map are the ones who went to jail, like Dan Rostenkowski
. Or Webb Hubbell
. But even that doesn't always hold true; former congressmen Bob Ney
now hosts a local radio show, and Jim Traficant
wants to run for office again in knee-high white socks.
I've always been an unabashed gossip because I'm curious about the details of the lives of others, good and bad. I read every source of gossip out there: Washington Whispers
, Reliable Source
, Inside the Beltway
, In the Loop
, Page Six,
USA Today purple section
, US Weekly
, Perez Hilton
, N.Y. Daily News
, British tabs
But my new gossip column for Politics Daily, Emily's Post, will be a little different because I so know what it's like
to be the subject of gossip – hurt, angry, scared and mostly embarrassed by it.
So I'm turning the tables, yes, but not
against those who have hurt me. I'm just as curious about D.C. as I was when I got here at age 18. But, I'm (hopefully) wiser now, and experienced enough to know who is a fraud and who is genuine.
My intent is to cover the narratives of the lives of Washington in a way that is fun, decent, opinionated, honest and tough. I want to expose the arrogant and hypocritical, the self-promoters and meanies. And I intend to find and write about the people who are original, brave, kind and generous, too.
Bottom line: if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
Follow me on Twitter @EmilyMillerDC