Meet Emily Miller.
Miller is the Senior Editor for Opinion at the Washington Times. Over the past 15 years she has made her way through the ranks of Washington DC as a public affairs consultant, press secretary on Capitol Hill and former deputy to both Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice. Most recently, Miller has gained popularity for her gun rights column that explores the hoops District residents must jump through in order to legally own a gun in DC.
1. As someone who has been on both sides of the DC media aisle, first as a press secretary, now as a reporter, what is your take on the hacks vs flacks rivalry in DC?
The relationships between reporters and political flacks is as dramatic as those on the “Bachelor Pad.” The inherent problem is that the hacks need as much information as possible, while the flacks want to only share what makes their bosses look good. So the two are locked in a dance of trying to seduce the other in order to get what they want.
The most important thing for both sides is to build long-term, trusting relationships. I’ve had the same M.O. as a press secretary and a reporter. Let’s talk as much as possible, but don’t use anything on background or on the record unless we discuss it. Of course this means you have to trust the word of the other person. Sometimes I’ve been burned, but mostly it has made it easier for both of us to do our jobs well.
2. How did your column on rights for gun owners get started?
I’ve always been pro-gun in theory, but it took being the victim of a crime to move me to want to get a gun myself. I was dog sitting for friends and stupidly left the front door open when I took the pup for a walk. I came back and found a criminal inside the house. About 15 of his buddies were standing outside at their pickup trucks on lookout.
Thankfully, he didn’t hurt me physically and just stole my wallet. That night, I was so terrified that I barricaded myself inside the bedroom with a dresser. As I tried unsuccessfully to sleep, it occurred to me that if I had a gun on the night table, I would feel safer knowing I could defend myself if the men came back during the night. The next day, I tweeted about wanting to get a gun in D.C., and the response was overwhelmingly pessimistic that it was even possible. I dislike being told “no” so that made me want to get a gun even more.
I told my editor that it might make a good story to write about the process of registering a legal gun, and he agreed. We assumed it would be a two-week story with a lot of long lines and paperwork. It ended up taking me four months to get a gun, and in the process, got the District city council to change the laws to make it slightly easier to register guns in D.C. A year later, I’m still writing about all the unconstitutional gun laws in our nation’s capital with the goal of ending the registration process entirely and getting the council to recognize residents’ right to bear arms by allowing guns outside the home.
3. What is your favorite thing about the District?
The U.S. Capitol – it’s a majestic building on the outside and feels like a very exclusive club on the inside. Every day that I’ve walked into that building over the years, I’ve looked up at the dome and thought that I’m the luckiest person to have my office be in the seat of democracy in the free world. Also, I love my my church, Christ Church Georgetown, because it feels like home in the city.
4. Michelle O. calls and wants to hang with you for the day. Where are you taking her?
I’d take her ice skating on Pennsylvania Ave because if Michelle Obama ever wanted to hang with me, then hell must have frozen over.
5. To anyone looking to make it in DC as a media or political professional, what’s your number one piece of advice?
Never, ever lie. Information is the currency in Washington, so all you have is your word. D.C. is a small town and relationships last for decades. For better or worse, you will always cross paths again with everyone you deal with professionally. For that reason, character counts and loyalty is the highest value. For example, I’m sure that I wouldn’t have been asked to do this interview if my former intern in Congress, Josh Shultz, wasn’t the founder of FamousDC. I’m bursting with pride at his success.