Connecting two people with six steps

Published 9:57 am Friday, October 7, 2016

Have you ever played Six Degrees of Separation?

That’s the game based on the idea that everyone is just six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world, so that a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps.

It was popular a few years ago, when someone came up with a celebrity version called Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon. I’m only three degrees from ol’ Kev. I met Garth Brooks, who is from Oklahoma. Garth knows Reba, who is also an Okie. Reba was in a hilariously funny classic horror movie, “Tremors,” with none other than Kevin Bacon. Three steps. Yay me.

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I’m also just three steps away from Hillary Clinton.

When I was a much younger reporter, working in Pascagoula, a recent college grad interned with my newspaper. Janelle Carter was bright and energetic, eager to take on the world with her pen.

My co-worker, Natalie, and I did our best to impart the vastness of our journalism experience on Janelle during her time with us. Loaded down with all our knowledge and an impressive resume, she packed up and left Moss Point for Jackson’s Associated Press bureau. After learning the ropes there, she transferred to the AP office in Washington, D.C.

Jan’s assignment in the nation’s capital city was to cover its controversial mayor, Marion Barry Jr., who became internationally famous when he was videotaped smoking crack cocaine in 1990. Barry served six months in federal prison and was elected mayor for a third time after that.

Janelle put words on paper for many years, then switched careers. She was no longer writing what people would read, but what they would say.

As a speechwriter, she worked for Dennis Hastert, a former Speaker of the House, and was deputy director of speechwriting at the Department of Commerce under Secretary Donald L. Evans. She was also speechwriter to U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole, whose husband, Bob, lost his bid for president in 1996 to incumbent President Bill Clinton.

But that’s still five degrees of separation from me to Hillary. Me to Janelle, Janelle to Elizabeth, Elizabeth to Bob, Bob to Bill and Bill to Hill.

It was Jan’s next job, as senior adviser and speechwriter to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that brings it on down to three. I helped trained Jan and Jan wrote the words Condi spoke around the world as Secretary of State, a seat recently held by Hillary herself.

Three steps. Boom.

And you know me. That’s four for you.

Donna Campbell is the managing editor of The Daily Leader. She can be reached at