“Always baffled by Obama’s unwillingness to use address from Oval — even though not his best millieu,” Thrush tweeted Sunday night. “Doesn’t PRISM/[Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] demand it?” (PRISM is the codename for a government digital-spying program, a story first broken by WaPo.)
Asked why Friday’s comments from Obama weren’t enough, Thrush declined to answer. “Nah, but tks (thanks) for the reach out,” Thrush told FishbowlDC.
Thrush, however, had no problem engaging former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau on the matter. “If I were in the White House I’d be screaming at this tweet,” Favreau told Thrush Sunday. Thrush shot back that an unfiltered statement by Obama on the matter would be better than “a canned question or a ’60 Minutes’ deal.”
“Oh, now you think a controlled, scripted speech is better than taking questions from the press? That’s a first!” said Favreau.
“This isn’t our usual back and forth, Favs,” said Thrush, who is on a nickname basis with Favreau, “This is a major policy impacting the American people that requires a direct explanation.”
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One of the most anticipated parties of the convention week was the Buzzfeed party that took place on Tuesday evening at Discovery Place in Charlotte. The party, called “Political Animals” promised to the wildest party in Charlotte.
I knew it was a different kind of party when one of the first guests I ran into was this iguana, named Liz. Liz was awfully subdued, so she was either asleep or high. Guests were allowed to touch her, but not hold her. One party-goer was kindly asked not to touch the claws on her feet because “they are very sharp” and it could end badly. The space featured several interactive science exhibits and tanks of fish, jellyfish and other sea life.
Liz was joined by Herbie, this turtle with a camera strapped to his back. While this might have been an elaborate plan to shoot up the ladies’ skirts, it was too dark in the venue to see much of anything. Milling in the crowd were Politico’sDylan Byers, Juana Summers and Maggie Haberman; Rebecca Schoenkopf and Jim Newell from Wonkette; CNN’s Erin Burnett; White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, Neera Tanden, President of Center for American Progress; Michael Shure of Current TV; ABC’s Jonathan Karl; among SEVERAL others. BuzzFeed’s own talent was there in full force. Editor-in-chief Ben Smith politely chatted up the army of partygoers while Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton stood next to a stuffed grizzly bear that looked a little too familiar.
The party had several accessible bars and served up a fruit and cheese buffet while servers paraded such goodies as fried mac n cheese and lollipops. For those of you wondering, it’s hard to get a salad in this part of America.
On Saturday afternoon, hundreds of celebrities, journos and politicos packed the nine bedroom, 7,000 square foot mansion of businessman and Washington Kastles owner Mark Ein. The former residence of legendary publisher Katherine Graham, the historic Georgetown home (sold in 2002 for $8 million) provided a picture-perfect setting for the annual garden brunch co-hosted by Tammy Haddad, Ted Greenberg, Kevin Sheekey, Hilary Rosen, Mark Ein, Alex Castellanos, Anita Dunn, Bill Knapp, Jim Courtovich, David Adler, Steve McMahon and Franco Nuschese. Honorary chairs Wendy Murdoch and Susan Axelrod added a charitable component to the event which benefited CURE Epilepsy and the White Ribbon Alliance.
Journos enjoying mimosas, greyhounds and bloodies packed several tiers of decks behind the home and trickled off into the backyard for a little fresh air. The sprawling estate provided plenty of hiding spots for celebrity guest who would have been forced to mingle more openly at Haddad’s home – the previous venue for the brunch. Spotted through a cracked VIP room door (new this year) were Chace Crawford and Maria Bello. We bumped into the Palin family, Jeremy Piven, Tim Daly and Morgan Fairchild mixing with the “commoners” outdoors and caught up with Chelsea Handler who breezed into the brunch about 20 minutes before it ended. Representing the political elite were Susan and David Axelrod who shared their daughter’s struggles with epilepsy, White House communications gurus Jen Psaki and Dan Pfeiffer, Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY), Ebs Burnough, Boehner spokesman Michael Steel and McCarthy spokeswoman Erica Elliott.
The list of journo attendees was unwieldy but we owe a special shout out to Patrick Gavin‘s pants that seemed to mock the day’s cause (*see seizure-worthy pattern) and wife Anne Bracken Gavin who looked stunning and svelte after giving birth to the couple’s first child only a few weeks ago.
L to R: Anne Bracken Gavin, Patrick Gavin, David Axelrod
Bloomberg’s Phil Mattingly and Erica Elliott, press secretary for Rep. Kevin McCarthy (CA-22)
L to R: Tammy Haddad, Slice, Pam Dornic, Glenn Ballard, Christine Delargy and Topspin.
Despite election distractions, TIME‘s “40 Under 40″ party brought out a surprisingly charming and interesting crowd last night. Nearly half of the mag’s 40 featured rising stars and roughly 200 attendees joined TIME Managing Editor Richard Stengelfor sushi, cocktails and conversation at Zentan restaurant in the hip Donovan House hotel.
In addition to an impressive list, the event offered an open bar with three specialty drinks like the popular ”Iced Tea Party” and the “Blue State Fizz” that helped lubricate party tensions while guests chattered about the upcoming midterm elections.
Honorees (idenitified by nifty “40 Under 40″ lapel pins) in attendance included: Brendan Steinhauser, Jeremy Bash, Nathan Daschle, Jared Polis, Ben Rhodes, Cedric Richmond, Jay Webber, Carte Goodwin, Ellie Hill, Benjamin Jealous, Adam Kinzinger, Rachel Kleinfeld, Jennifer O’Malley Dillon, Stephanie Schriock.
Richard Stengel on stage.
All photographs by: Julie Fischer McCarter for TIME
“Young & the Guest List,” Washington Life‘s annual roundup of roughly 200 (more this year) of the metro area’s top innovators under the age of 40 just hit newsstands. This year’s list includes 152 men, 112 women, 2 diplomats 35 CEOs and 44 folks from the White House and Cap Hill. WL tells us that there were 78 new editions this year and a quick read proves that DC media types were well-represented.
For the full list, pick up a copy at Whole Foods, newsstands and book stores around the city. For more on the YGL, check out Washington Life‘s website here and a behind-the-scenes video from the YGL fashion shoot below.
This morning at Union Station, The Atlantic and National Journal hosted a panel discussion about the impact of the President’s SOTU address last night. Atlantic Media’s Political Director Ron Brownstein was joined by a journalists panel including John Harwood, Alexis Simendinger, and Eugene Robinson.
Political guests included Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-CA), WH Dir. of Comm. Dan Pfeiffer and one lone Republican – Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX).
While Klobuchar and Cornyn kept it cool, Rep. Becerra spent much of his stage time finger-pointing at the Senate for the health care bottleneck, claiming “the House has a plan that will work but we need a little help from our friends in the Senate.” Becerra was also quick to criticize Republicans for not standing to applaud President Obama’s mention of tax cuts for small business.
Pfeiffer, who closed the series said the Address was not meant to signal a “reset” rather, “it was a robust explanation of where we are and where we need to be.” On Senator-elect Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts? Pfeiffer sees it as a very anti-Washington sentiment, not as affirmation of the Republican brand.
Will FNC’s special on President Obama this weekend escalate the already contentious relationship between the White House and FNC?
Michael Clemente, senior V.P. of news for FNC in New York, hints that like everything “lightening rod” about the network, some will like it, some won’t.
Watchers, he said, must decide for themselves.
“What’s unique about the special,” he said in a phone interview with FishbowlDC Thursday, is that the program is Obama’s words. There are clips of the President’s first year, his words and the “result” of those words. But no, no interview with Obama. FNC’s Bret Baier will anchor the one-hour program on Saturday and Sunday nights at 9p.m.
Clemente insists FNC’s version of Obama ‘a year later’ is different than the rest. “There’s been a whole bunch of this for the past week or two, but what we’ve done is not have any narration,” Clemente said. “I’ve seen a bunch of these packages. They’ve been all over the place because it’s a natural thing to do.”
The FNC news executive assured that the special would be — what else? — fair and balanced.
“What we’re trying to do is what we do as journalists,” he said. “Let’s have what we’ve seen and reported. It’s very innovative. People sometimes tire of being told what they’re seeing. All we need to do is string together the sound of what was said and what was done and let people just see it for what it is.”
Clemente isn’t worried about the program’s success. “I’m not comfortable talking about numbers, but we have increasing numbers of people watching what we do,” he said. “I hope they come. I think we have something innovative and different, especially different compared to everyone else’s predicable here’s what happened in the first year.”
Obama has essentially patched up his shaky relationship with FNC, granting interviews to correspondents such as Major Garrett, who covers the White House.
But earlier this week, White House communications director Dan Pfeiffer threatened to topple those flimsy relations in an interview with NYT’sJeff Zeleny that the network is “not a traditional news organization,” and that he doesn’t feel the need to treat FNC like an ABC or an NBC. FNC shot back, “Obviously new to his position, Dan seems to be intent upon repeating the mistakes of his predecessor… and we all remember how well that turned out.” (See that story on TVNewser here.)
Clemente said viewers will be surprised. “It’s not what people expect from Fox,” he said. “I think people expect here’s what went wrong here, here’s what went wrong there. This is the President in his own words. Let’s just sit back for a moment and go through it.”
The below video on YouTube may not be the final version. (But watch it anyway, it’s close enough to the final cut.)
From today’s Playbook by Mike Allen: “Tammy Haddad saluted Dan Pfeiffer, the new White House communications director, with a flash-mob buffet supper of salmon and bow-tie pasta with capers and olives. (Ask David Greenberg how many powdered-sugar brownies he hoarded downstairs.) Tammy’s toast to Dan included love for his bride, Sarah Feinberg. Tammy surprised Al Hunt, aglow from interviewing Secretary Geithner, with a birthday cupcake from Marvelous Market (chocolate/chocolate, with two candles and a candy cane). The candles almost melted down when Howard Fineman interrupted with a toast to Tammy.”
Looks like WaPo‘s Chris Cillizza, on The Fix, is the first to report that White House Communications Director Anita Dunn will step down at the end of this month, to be replaced by her deputy Dan Pfeiffer. Cillizza’s reporting:
Dunn, a longtime Democratic media consultant, took over the job on an interim basis earlier this year when Ellen Moran abruptly left the post to take a job at the Commerce Department. Dunn will remain as a consultant to the White House on the communications and strategic ends.
Pfeiffer began working for Obama in 2007 following Sen. Evan Bayh’s (Ind.) decision not to pursue the presidency. He served a stint as the traveling press secretary for Obama’s presidential bid but eventually took a slot overseeing the campaign’s communications operation.
Prior to Obama, Pfeiffer worked for Sen. Tim Johnson’s (S.D.) re-election race in 2002 and on then Sen. Tom Daschle’s (S.D.) unsuccessful bid in 2004.