The FishbowlDC Interview With Financial Times’ Business and Reg Scribe Shahien Nasiripour

Say hello to Shahien Nasiripour. He writes about how the government shapes regulation for the Financial Times and is based out of the Washington bureau. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. Because of Shahien, FishbowlDC is cracking down on the “Who is your favorite journalist” question. That would be singular — not obscenely plural. An enthused Shahien gave us 11. That is unacceptable and hereon out you have him to thank for a more hardcore policy. Moving on, before FT, he worked in New York as HuffPost‘s first business reporter. Born in Oklahoma City, Shahien moved to San Jose, Calif. when he was 5. While in junior high, right around the time he got arrested (wink! wink!), the family relocated to Cupertino. He spent a summer in college interning for Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and the DSCC. He gravitated toward the senator’s press office, where he noticed that press aides didn’t necessarily want to answer questions they were asked. He thought life might be more fun on the other side. Shahien is an appealing character for a number of reasons: 1. He once got fired from Old Navy. 2. He loves Sour Patch Kids to an extent that may not be normal. 3. He has a temper. 4. He loves to cuss. “What is that fucking noise?” he asked during our conference call this morning. Having just moved here in December, he’s still getting acquainted to the ways of Washington. “I miss New York,” he confided. “I think the Metro here is fucking awful. The food is not that good. I do like the neighborhoody feel. The food isn’t as good as New York and the weather is not as good as California. I could go back there and have fun, or I could be here, which is fucking D.C.” Enjoy!

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be?

Diet Coke with Lime. So addictive.

How often do you Google yourself?

Every time I’m looking for stories I’ve written in the past.

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)?

I can’t think of a worst, though I can remember lots of times editors have told me to stop being an asshole. I guess I can be a bit aggressive and passionate at times.

Who is your favorite working journalist and why?

That’s tough to answer. Excluding my FT mates and HuffPost buddies (because they’re the best) I’ve got a few favorites: Jesse Eisinger of Propublica, Binya Appelbaum of the NYT, Jody Shenn of Bloomberg, Jeff Horwitz of American Banker, David Reilly of WSJ, Scott Glover and Matt Lait of the LA Times, Jonathan Weil of Bloomberg, Gretchen Morgenson of NYT, Bob Ivry of Bloomberg and Yalman Onaran of Bloomberg. I like these folks not just because I’ve learned about my beat from reading their articles, but also because they call things like they see them. Most reporters aren’t like that.

Do you have a favorite word?


What word or phrase do you overuse?

I curse a lot, so it’s safe to say I overuse all the words (and the creative combinations that can be formed using them) one really shouldn’t use.

What swear word do you use most often?

See above.

Who would you rather have dinner with – ABC’s Diane Sawyer, CNN’s Candy Crowley or CBS’s Gayle King. Tell us why.

I can’t choose. I don’t know any of them, but I’ve heard they’re all great.

What is the most interesting conversation you’ve had in the course of your journalism career?

Every conversation I’ve had when normally reserved people start cussin’, drinking, and telling you exactly what they think counts as the most interesting conversation I’ve had as a reporter.

The Earth’s human population is dying out and you must save it. You will spend a romantic evening with either Sec. Janet Napolitano or former AG Janet Reno? Who will it be? (Neither is not an option.)

I’ve got a beautiful, brilliant girlfriend I intend to marry. You really can’t ask me to answer this question.

Tell us a funny story from the road. Can be long or short.

I once was at a presser where a fellow reporter asked me of the person behind the mic, “Who the FUCK is this guy?” For some reason I always smile when I think of that story. It was just a perfect combination of incredulousness, anger and ignorance.

What’s the most revolting thing you’ve eaten in your travels? And the best?

I love French food but I can’t eat tripe. It’s just too much. The best is Persian food, specifically kabab koobideh. I can’t eat enough.

Which presidential candidate would you most like to fight with? Break bread with? Go jogging with?

Assuming we’re only talking about the Rs, Rick Perry looks like he can throw down so I’m not sure I’d want to fight him. The fact that Herman Cain was supporting Colbert’s candidacy makes me think he’d be a good time. I hate jogging.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring?


It’s 3 a.m. and you get up to use the bathroom or get a drink of water. Do you check your BlackBerry?

Who doesn’t?

What word do you routinely misspell?

Every American English word that has a different British spelling. So I routinely misspell programme, securitise, centre and rumour.

If you weren’t a journalist what would you be?

I tell anyone who listens that if I was a few inches taller I’d be in the NBA.

You’ve just been told the big news: You get to have your own Sunday morning talk show. Who will be on your roundtable? (Pick four journalists or pundits types.)

Honestly, that’s like the worst news someone could give me.

When you pig out what do you eat?

Sour Patch Kids.

If you could influence journalism in one way right now what would it be?

Banning the use of anonymous sources in political stories.

When did you last cry and why?

I recently watched ESPN’s “The Two Escobars” for like the 7th time. I always cry during that movie.

What TV show is your guilty pleasure?

Trashy Bravo reality shows are pretty hard to beat.

What is the best vacation you’ve ever taken?

My girlfriend and I spent six months traveling through Southeast Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. Best six months of my life.

Pick one: Kim, Khloe or Kourtney?

Kourtney is the most normal and she gets season tix to the Lakers. To strictly hang out, probably her.

Have you ever had a near-death experience?


Ever been arrested?

Once, as a teen. [We pressed him on this and he refused to answer any further. “You’ll have to ask the San Jose Police Department,” he said. If anyone has any information, write us at]

Tell us a secret not many people know about you.

I’d be happy eating Sour Patch Kids for dinner.

What scares you?

Getting scooped by someone who earned it, as opposed to one of those authorized day-before leaks. There’s no worse feeling than getting cleanly beat.

Who is your mentor?

I don’t know if they consider themselves my mentors, but Scott Glover and Matt Lait of the LA Times have helped me more than they know.

What and where was your first job in journalism?

Other than my college paper, working for ABC News (Primetime and World News Tonight) out of the LA bureau in 2003.

What’s your most embarrassing career moment?

Showing up in a suit on the first day of my summer internship at the South Florida Sun Sentinel. It was like 90+ degrees and humid in Delray Beach, some of my editors were wearing Hawaiian shirts, and I was sweating like I had been caught stealing something.

Have you ever been fired?

Yes. I once was fired from Old Navy when I was 17 or 18 because I skipped two (maybe three) straight days of work to hang out with a girl.

When and why did you last laugh so hard you had tears in your eyes?

The last time I made HuffPost’s Arthur Delaney laugh so hard that he had tears in his eyes.

When and why did you last lose your temper?

This is a daily occurrence.

Which movie title best describes your journalism career?

Necessary Roughness.

Who would you want to play you in a movie?


Name jobs you’ve had outside of journalism. (Can start as young as teenage years):

In high school I sold/folded clothes at Old Navy and a men’s clothing store called Structure. I also worked at a stationary store near my old Cupertino home called Mc-something. To earn extra cash in college I refereed hoops games.

Do you have a me-wall? If so, who’s on it?

Not sure what this is.

Who should just call it a day?

LeBron. He’ll never win a championship.

From TMZ Founder Harvey Levin: You are about to be served your last meal. What will it be?

First some mast-o-khiar (with extra garlic). Then kabab koobideh with saffron rice, a peeled raw purple onion and grilled tomatoes. And then I’m done.

From Reason’s Peter Suderman: You’re given a choice between living a normal length life looking like you’re 28 and a thousand year life in which your age shows the whole time. Which would you pick and why?

The latter, though I’m slightly afraid of walking through life looking like a raisin.

Finally, please come up for a question for our next FishbowlDC interviewee. Make it good.

What’s the number of times you’ve been afraid of getting caught boozing while playing softball on the Mall?