The Cable

The Cable goes inside the foreign policy machine, from Foggy Bottom to Turtle Bay, the White House to Embassy Row.

The White House’s new spinmeister: Hong Kong Hefner

Ben Chang is one Obama administration official known by many names. By day, he spins news as the deputy spokesman for the National Security Council. By night — or at least before the weight of his current job responsibilities made doing so impossible — he spins records as DJ MSG, also known as Hong Kong ...

576364_091123_ben_chang_sm2.jpg
576364_091123_ben_chang_sm2.jpg

Ben Chang is one Obama administration official known by many names. By day, he spins news as the deputy spokesman for the National Security Council. By night -- or at least before the weight of his current job responsibilities made doing so impossible -- he spins records as DJ MSG, also known as Hong Kong Hefner, a disc jockey and fashion photographer extraordinaire.

Chang is an example of the new breed of Obama era up-and-comers who transcend the classical definition of the White House staffer. According to his personal Web site, he gigs in New York specializing in "Dancefloor jazz, funky breaks, old school & classic hip hop, indie pop/rock, new wave, dance punk, mutant disco..."

Ben Chang is one Obama administration official known by many names. By day, he spins news as the deputy spokesman for the National Security Council. By night — or at least before the weight of his current job responsibilities made doing so impossible — he spins records as DJ MSG, also known as Hong Kong Hefner, a disc jockey and fashion photographer extraordinaire.

Chang is an example of the new breed of Obama era up-and-comers who transcend the classical definition of the White House staffer. According to his personal Web site, he gigs in New York specializing in “Dancefloor jazz, funky breaks, old school & classic hip hop, indie pop/rock, new wave, dance punk, mutant disco…”

His fashion-shoot work has been featured on elle.com, in such magazines as Express Mada (“I’m Big in Lithuania,” he writes), and in the March 2008 issue of Blackbook magazine, where he gave readers an inside look at the U.N. delegates’ lounge. He was selected as one of Paper magazine’s “Beautiful People for 2008.”

Somewhere in all that, Chang has amassed 13-plus years in the Foreign Service, including diplomatic assignments in El Salvador, at the State Department in Washington, in Paris at the U.S. Mission to the OECD, and in New York at the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, according to his Web site.

In Paris, he was known as “Slim Buddha” and his parties were said by one diplomatic source to be “off the hook.”

“I take all these pursuits very seriously,” Chang told Paper. “And there are times when one doesn’t know about the others.” But “his primary calling will always be diplomacy,” according to the magazine.

Chang declined to be interviewed for this story.

Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at josh.rogin@foreignpolicy.com.

Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.

A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.

Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C. Twitter: @joshrogin

More from Foreign Policy

A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.
A Panzerhaubitze 2000 tank howitzer fires during a mission in Ukraine’s Donetsk region.

Lessons for the Next War

Twelve experts weigh in on how to prevent, deter, and—if necessary—fight the next conflict.

An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
An illustration showing a torn Russian flag and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

It’s High Time to Prepare for Russia’s Collapse

Not planning for the possibility of disintegration betrays a dangerous lack of imagination.

An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.
An unexploded tail section of a cluster bomb is seen in Ukraine.

Turkey Is Sending Cold War-Era Cluster Bombs to Ukraine

The artillery-fired cluster munitions could be lethal to Russian troops—and Ukrainian civilians.

A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol  January 8, 2009 in Washington.
A joint session of Congress meets to count the Electoral College vote from the 2008 presidential election the House Chamber in the U.S. Capitol January 8, 2009 in Washington.

Congrats, You’re a Member of Congress. Now Listen Up.

Some brief foreign-policy advice for the newest members of the U.S. legislature.