Anderson House, off Dupont Circle
Lionel Barber, Sen. Gillibrand, Jonathan Gillibrand and Richard McGregor
From Moet pink champagne to pink marshmallows dipped in coconut to lush bouquets of cherry blossoms, the Anderson House sparkled in the evening light. The pink was to remind guests of the salmon-hue of the Financial Times.
The Thursday night fest welcomed FT’s new Washington Bureau Chief Richard McGregor to town. A grand welcome it was. FT brass and staff jetted in from New York and London to put on an opulent gathering that included known Washington faces like former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan and wife, NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, WaPo’s Executive Editor Marcus Brauchli, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and husband, Jonathan. FT hosts included Editor Lionel Barber and U.S. Managing Editor Gillian Tett. Cocktail party circuit loyalists worked the room as usual, trading business cards and small talk and enjoying the booze.
But this was no ordinary Washington party in any other sense. It was a step above. Even the hors d’oeurvres – gorgeous lobster rolls placed on fava beans, bites of marinated New York sirloin, or tuna tartare in small boutique sesame ice cream cones on a bed of coffee grounds – reflected it. FT has that sort of air – refined, upscale, impeccable — and isn’t a place terribly welcoming of anyone talking out of turn.
“The FT is very gentlemanly,” agreed Gary Silverman, FT‘s U.S. News Editor who came in for the party from New York, who was spotted chatting with NYT’s Sabrina Tevernise and later with MSNBC Commentator and The Daily Beast’s Richard Wolffe.
Which is why, when toward the party’s end that Americans for Tax Reform President Grover Norquist came to say goodnight to McGregor, that his parting note was jarring. “I’m going home to beat the kids,” Norquist said with a wide smile. McGregor, unfazed, bid him farewell.
The new bureau chief has a confident quietness. He’s neither the life of the party nor the wallflower. He isn’t full of thick Washington conceit, but he isn’t confused by what he was sent here to do. “Just get everybody facing in the right direction and let them go,” he says in his native Australian accent.
Radical change is not on his spoken agenda. “I’m building on the good legacy that [already exists],” he says. “No big changes.” Like Norquist, McGregor has a trick phrase up his sleeve. “I don’t have to come here and boot people up the bum,” he says. A quick translation: “I don’t have to come here and push.”
Asked about the newspaper being a perceived pink, McGregor remarked, “I think of it as salmon.”
Born in Sydney, Australia, he worked for The Australian, the International Herald Tribune, the BBC and Far Eastern Economic Review and has spent much of the last decade in China as FT‘s Bureau Chief. Washington is three months new, but so is America. “I have wanted to come to the states all my life,” he says. He’s living in Chinatown while he house hunts.
MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe and FT’s Gary Silverman
Lionel Barber, Andrea Mitchell, Alan Greenspan and Sally Quinn
Photo Credit: Sam Hurd
Find out who else was at the party…