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Archives: April 2011

A Contrarian’s Point of View on WHCD

In an editorial today, WaPo columnist Dana Milbank agrees with Ezra Klein: that the paper inviting Donald Trump was a mistake. Or, at the very least, awkward.

On Thursday, the Washington Post editorializes that Donald Trump has been campaigning on “bogus” issues and that he should “cease and desist.” An article in the news pages the same day reports that the great orange charlatan’s “simply wild speculation” has “almost no basis in fact.”

Then, on Saturday night, Post reporters and editors, in black-tie finest, go to the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner to host their invited guests, including. . . Donald Trump.

But that isn’t his only problem with the WHCD. Far from it. The week or so of parties turns journalists into “pimps,” tasked with recruiting Hollywood celebrities, politicians, and business executives to come to the dinner as guests.

Milbank writes of a time, long ago, when the dinner was a “minor annoyance” with mainly journalists and obscure celebs. “Now, awash in lobbyist and corporate money, it is another display of Washington’s excesses.” Among the gaggle of parties, non-profits “hold cocktail parties masquerading as charity benefits.” He calls the whole thing “icky” before closing:

As I began to do the RSVPs for a few of this year’s parties, I thought about what our hardbitten journalistic forebears would make of Cee Lo and SamRo and the Donald. Then I made other plans for the weekend.

Would “our hardbitten journalistic forebears” really be upset with journalists dancing to Cee Lo at a party?  Doesn’t look like we’re going to find out anytime soon.

HuffPost to Celebrate One Million Twitter Followers with Prizes

In anticipation of HuffPost‘s millionth Twitter follower, the site’s social media editor, Rob Fishman, gives a brief history today of HuffPost‘s time on the network.

But, oh boy, get ready for when they reach a million. Because there will be prizes. And they will be fabulous. (Well, one of the prizes is fabulous. The others are mediocre.)

The one millionth follower, along with two other lucky tweeters chosen from HuffPost‘s following, will receive a brand spanking new iPad 2. Obviously, HuffPost took this idea from me:

Meanwhile, ten winners who use the hashtag #HuffPost1M will get retweeted and 15 more will get a #FollowFriday shootout.

Good luck and Godspeed.

The Divas of WHCDs Past

The WHCD has a reputation for being all glitter and glam. But a behind-the-scenes examination reveals not everything goes off as seamlessly as we think.

NJ recently interviewed the White House Correspondents’ Association’s executive director, Julia Whiston. She sheds some light on the biggest divas she’s worked with in the nearly 20 years that she’s been in charge of the dinner, since her first year in 1993.

Ray Charles, for example, wouldn’t play his version of “America the Beautiful” without an additional $250,000, a payment Whiston refused. And Aretha Franklin almost refused to go on stage because the room was air conditioned. She ultimately performed, with the air conditioning on.

The easiest to work with? Last year’s comedian, Jay Leno: “He comes into town. He decides to walk down Connecticut Avenue and look for McDonald’s for lunch. He is gracious with everybody that he sees who works at the hotel.”

Read more of the interview here.

The FishbowlDC Interview with WHCD Prez David Jackson

Say hello to USA Today‘s David Jackson and the guy responsible for this year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He’s the president. He’s the one who had to field all the irate phone calls from media organizations that didn’t get the number of tables they wanted. There were 100 more requests for tables than were possible to accommodate. He said he wasn’t cussed at, but assured us it wasn’t pleasant. “We did what we could,” he told me. This year’s entertainment, SNL’s Seth Meyers, was his first choice. (So if Meyers bombs be sure to email, call and tweet.) Jackson, a pleasant curmudgeon of an interview, wouldn’t bother telling me who was on the short list in case Meyers declined. He claimed not to have watched Lifetime’s “William and Kate” movie of the week, though suspiciously he knew exactly what I was talking about. He was also tight-lipped about saying who those angry callers were. Read on.

If you were a carbonated beverage which would you be? Classic Coke.

How often do you Google yourself? Never (I sometimes Yahoo myself to retrieve a story I have written).

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever said to an editor (or vice versa)? Both answers are unprintable.

Who is your favorite working journalist? I have one, but naming that person would annoy the dozens who finished in a tie for second place.

Do you have a favorite word? Not one, no.

Who would you rather have dinner with – First Lady Michelle Obama or Bestselling Author and former V.P. candidate Sarah Palin? Both at the same time.

What’s the name of your cell phone ring? Vibrate. Vibrate

When did you last cry and why? When David Broder passed away.

What word do you routinely misspell? Judgement.

What swear word do you use most often? The f one, I’m afraid.

What word or phrase do you overuse? I’ll be interested to see …

What TV show do you have to watch? Mad Men

Where do you shop most often for your clothes? Joseph A. Bank

Whom do you prefer for daytime talk, Dr. Phil, Ellen, Oprah, Tyra or the women of The View? With all due respect: None.

Pick one: Leno, Letterman or Conan? Letterman.

Who is your mentor? Carl Leubsdorf

What’s the best advice you ever received in the course of your career? “Just work your ass off” — Dick Schaap told me that when I was in grad school; I don’t want to reveal the year.

Find out why Jackson last lost his temper? It involves FishbowlDC…

Read more

Today’s Most Popular Stories 4.29.11

Every afternoon we surf your sites for the most popular stories of the day. Here are the top headlines for April 29, 2011:

Washington Post: Debt ceiling: More Democrats threaten to vote against raising borrowing limit

Washington Times: EDITORIAL: Birth certificate isn’t Obama’s only secret

Washington Examiner: Virginia AG cancels King & Spalding work for state after “obsequious act of weakness” in DOMA case

Bloomberg: Democrats Start Two Campaign Fundraising Groups for Obama Re-Election Bid

USA Today: Kate Middleton’s wedding dress is ‘a triumph’

The Hill: Rand Paul has ‘birther’ demand for Trump: Prove you’re a Republican

Politico: Donald Trump drops F-bombs on Las Vegas crowd

Roll Call: GOP Strategists Fear Fallout From Obama Birth Record

National Journal: Democrats Make It Official: They’ll Take Undisclosed Donations, Too

Talking Points Memo: With Drudge Report’s Help, Birthers Latch Onto Phony Forgery Theory

The New Republic: Liberals: Don’t Even Consider Gloating About Donald Trump

The Daily Caller: University of Iowa Republican student gets taste of left’s ‘civility’ in profane professor email

Fab or Fug?

We continue our fashion feature this week with this open back number that allows everyone to see this woman’s bra.

This is a thumbs way down. Maybe not all out “Fug” because the lace and pink are rather pretty, but questionable enough to make us wonder if the back had ripped open accidentally.

The ensemble turned up at a delectable steak dinner (lentils for vegetarians) at the Ritz last night thrown by Lani Hay and Elle.

Get Ready! People & Time Party Has New Twists

Tonight’s People & Time party at the St. Regis is building to a feverish pitch. We’re already salivating about those gift bags. And we can’t wait to interview the celebs and journos who attend.

The decor will be “Hamptons Chic,” with muted neutral colors and contemporary beach furniture. The food: high-end American comfort is the description. New this year: A martini bar and a new photo experience that allows guests to take pictures and have them projected onto a wall.

Anticipated guests include “D.C. insiders, media influencers and Hollywood’s hottest stars.” Last year’s list included Matthew Morrison, Valerie Jarrett, Gayle King, the Queen of Mean Gabourey Sidibe, Chace Crawford and Tony Romo.

As an added bonus this year, both mags will be showing off their new royal wedding issue covers. Both are increasing their print runs and moving up their publication schedules next week to get copies on newsstands Monday. Typically, People hits stands on Thursday and TIME on Friday.

UPDATE: See TIME cover….

Read more

Gaseous Woman for Hire

Do you fear your party will be a bore? Do you want to promise guests that they’ll shriek with laughter? Have we got the party hire for you: the female straggler at NJ’s Political Pursuit event last night at the Newseum.

As everyone knows, NJ is a sophisticated operation. So when a female partygoer wandered into the event site last night and let ‘er rip as they say, the entire back few rows of guests fell into a subdued state of shock and then laughter. Then they wanted to known who she was. But to no avail. After the rude awakening, she fled to the balcony (we assume for fresh air) and then vanished.

The incident hardly ruined the event — it enhanced it.

Politico Snubs NYT’s Leibo From Brunch

That Allbritton brunch on Sunday is as clubby as it gets.

So much so, that longtime friend NYT‘s Mark Leibovich, who wrote the lengthy magazine cover story in April of last year that blew up Mike Allen‘s “Playbook” following, is getting blackballed. He attended last year. This year? No go. We’re told an outside team is controlling the invitations, but those “outsiders” apparently wanted him there last year.

Leibo didn’t appear to be too broken up about it earlier this week when we asked him about it. Nor did he try to guess why he wasn’t invited. He declined to comment on the matter.

Some believe the snub involves a grudge from emails that fired Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) aide Kurt Bardella sneaked to Leibovich for his upcoming book. The secret emails are said to be from Politico reporters.

Separated at Birth: The Royal Wedding Edition

In this installment, we have English “socialite” and royal wedding guest Tara Palmer-Tomkinson in an absurd hat. She’s paired with an alien from the 1997 movie, “The Fifth Element.” The character is named simply The Diva. Fitting.

(h/t Washington Examiner‘s Eddie Scarry.)

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