- The Washington Times - Monday, January 6, 2003

Daniel Wattenberg, a widely published writer and commentator on popular culture, the arts and politics, joins The Washington Times today as arts and entertainment editor.
Mr. Wattenberg, 43, is a former syndicated columnist and investigative reporter who has regularly contributed reviews, essays, humor and political coverage to the Weekly Standard, Forbes FYI and George, among other magazines and journals.
He assumes responsibility for overseeing and improving coverage and criticism in The Times of art, music, dance, theater, television and movies, among other subjects.
"Danny's many interests are rooted first in the traditional arts," said Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Times, "and he is attuned to popular culture as well, with his critic's enthusiasm tempered by a newspaperman's skepticism. He's a perfect fit for America's newspaper, and I'm pleased that he's joining us. Our readers will be, too. The 'who and what' of the popular culture is more important than many readers realize it is, and we're determined to show our readers why. Danny will be the key to that."
Mr. Wattenberg, a resident of the District's Adams Morgan neighborhood, already is known to many readers of The Times for the nationally syndicated column that he alternated in writing with his father, Ben Wattenberg, the author, social commentator and host of the PBS program "Think Tank." Their column was published in more than 200 other newspapers.
The younger Mr. Wattenberg has appeared on such television programs as "Inside Politics," "Nightline," "The O'Reilly Factor," "Fox Morning News" and "American Journal" as well as with such radio hosts as Barry Gray, Alan Colmes, Pat Buchanan and G. Gordon Liddy.
He was a contributing editor at both George, the magazine of politics and culture, now extinct, founded by John F. Kennedy Jr., and at Intellectual Capital.com, a pioneering "Webzine."
Mr. Wattenberg got an early taste of a newsroom during a short stint as a copy boy at the New York Times before he graduated from Columbia College in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in English. He then joined the federal government as a press aide and speechwriter in the Reagan administration.
At the United States Information Agency from 1983 through 1985, Mr. Wattenberg was assigned to the U.S. mission to UNESCO and the U.S. Embassy in Paris. He moved to the State Department in 1986, first as a special assistant in the Human Rights Bureau and then, from June 1986 through 1988, as a policy aide to the assistant secretary of state for inter-American affairs.
In 1989, he signed on as a reporter and writer at Insight magazine, which is published by the Washington Times Corp. His cover stories for Insight included reports on Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Lee Atwater, Nicaragua and evangelical Christianity in Latin America.
He was an investigative reporter for American Spectator magazine from September 1992 through 1994, writing cover stories on the Waco debacle and Hillary Clinton's political evolution.
Mr. Wattenberg notes, however, that one of his strongest qualifications for the post of arts and entertainment editor at The Times dates from his college days: From 1978 to 1982, he was the lead singer and songwriter in obscure punk and rock bands, notably the Mystery Dates and the Casuals, which opened for the Ramones and other now-legendary bands at CBGB's and other clubs and colleges in New York and along the East Coast.
"From that experience I gained, I hope, some useful, lived insight into both making music and trying to make it in music. I know what it is to be a semi-talented teenager with delusions of rock stardom," Mr. Wattenberg, who plays guitar, told senior editors at The Times with a wry smile. "Last year, I started writing songs again and playing out locally, solo this time, waiting my turn at open mikes along with the emotionally fragile a cappella singers and the undergraduate shock 'poets' and the semi-talented 42-year-olds who have had the misfortune to be revisited by old delusions of rock stardom."
Mr. Wattenberg has since graduated from open mikes to scheduled club dates.

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