White House Correspondents Dinner Countdown- 1 day, 13 hours, 10 minutes, 04 seconds- Follow http://whcinsider.com
Ali Wentworth, actress, comedienne, Oprah regular, and wife of George Stephanopoulos gave WHCInsider the exclusive insight on her e-rules for the Information Super Highway. WHCInsider has learned that George Stephanopoulos is not permitted to tweet when Ali Wentworth is talking. Ali also doesn’t permit BlackBerrys in the bedroom and says tweeting should be something you do when you’re alone.
And she predicts her former boss, Jay Leno, will be a hit in his new 10:00 p.m. time slot, and thinks Wanda Sykes was told to tone down her blue humor for the WHCD. We picked up these scoops at the raucous party Ali and George hosted Monday night for the fun and fabulous Lee Woodruff’s second book: Perfectly Imperfect.
Check out our interview with Ali and you’ll know why she’s got her own show, “Head Case,” why she has a regular seat on Oprah, and why George is always smiling!
Quinn Bradlee, son of Washington Post legends Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn popped the question (over the phone!) to Pary Williamson and the engagement news was the talk of George Stephanopoulos’ party for Lee Woodruff’s new book.
Sally Quinn tells the WHCInsider that the ring is a Bradlee family heirloom. It belonged to Ben Bradlee’s great-great-grandmother Suzette Crowninshield. Quinn has been on tour for his new book and web site, Friends of Quinn. For photos of the book party Barry Diller threw for Quinn go to WHCInsider.com/scrapbook. Stay tuned for video of the party…
In part 3 of our interview with The Examiner’s Julie Mason and ABC News’ Jake Tapper – a former print reporter for Salon.com – tell WHCInsider that televising the White House briefing may be bad for journalism.
“An argument can be made while televising the briefing, while wonderful in the interest of transparency, actually hurts the interest of journalism being committed,” said Tapper. “It becomes a show,” added Mason. “And often time’s reporters are judged on the questions they ask during the briefing, when it’s such a tiny part of what we do. It sort of becomes counterproductive.”
Most of the White House correspondents’ work is done outside the regular press briefings … and both Tapper and Mason joked that they had “occasionally fettered access” outside the scheduled briefings.
Go behind the scenes at the White House briefing room here.
In Part 2 of our interview with ABC’s Jake Tapper and The Examiner’s Julie Mason, the White House correspondents tell WHCInsider that the Obama administration’s Briefing Room is not much different than when President Bush was in office.
It’s a “different vibe,” said Mason, “but in terms of the access we get and the information, it’s very much the same.” Tapper said the Obama White House is an improvement over the Obama campaign – staffers can’t “dodge” reporters so easily: “[They’re] much more accessible here, because they’re right here as opposed to on the phone.”
Does that mean Ana Marie Cox got it wrong, when she said White House correspondents are not necessary?
“Has Ana Marie Cox ever covered the White House,” asked Mason. “I’m not sure what her credentials are … she was there for the dog story.”
“Having a vigilant press corps in that room is definitely necessary,” Tapper added diplomatically. “I didn’t find her piece particularly persuasive.”
A Preview of the 2012 Presidential Race?
Fox News analyst and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich trashed the White House press corps during a Friday appearance on Greta Van Sustern’s show, “On The Record.” Gingrich claimed the White House correspondents have “taken such a pathetic dive with this President that they ought to be part of his PR firm. I mean it’s embarrassing to watch.”
Republicans have often railed against a perceived left-wing bias among mainstream media reporters and it appears they’ll continue that refrain during the Obama administration, but will it be a major campaign theme for Republicans?
In the interview, conducted at Mount Vernon, Gingrich quipped: “If you didn’t know better, you’d think that he was practicing with his own public affairs people for the future press conferences. These look like practice sessions; they don’t look like real press conferences.”
Elections usher in more than a new White House resident. It’s a time when the networks tap their new White House correspondent. For NBC, the highly regarded political analyst and editor Chuck Todd now occupies the NBC seat in the White House Briefing Room. While less than a mile away from his old perch at the Watergate as editor in chief of the Hotline, a back room backbencher of much political importance. WHCInsider talked with Todd about his much more public role. (He received an expensive old-fashioned shaving kit from a viewer when he won the NBC White House chair). Todd won’t comment on rumors he will be getting his own interview show on MSNBC, but he proudly shares anecdotes of 5-year-old Margaret and 2-year-old Harrison.
Q. What surprised you most about being a White House Correspondent?
A. The lack of physical access inside the White House. The high irony is we connect the two buildings, the White House to the West Wing. The folks in the white house get to decide where you sit, where you go. It is not new to this White House, it’s a every modern White House that’s controlling.
Q. Compare Obama campaign access vs. The White House?
A. The White House is more open and transparent than the campaign but only because you cannot run the White House in a tight circle of just five people.
Q. How about your transition into this reporter role?
A. I had a lot of real frustration. I don’t think Ana Maria Cox got it right about getting rid of the White House Correspondents. We still have a real value, but you have a lot of the good reporting outside the White House. It is easier to report from outside the White House. [Read more…]
White House Correspondents tell WHCInsider.com that Gibbs’ briefing room nickname is “The Gibbsnotist” for his ability to “bring the temperature down” and put some correspondents to sleep.
Watch ABC News WH reporter Jake Tapper and veteran WH reporter, The Examiner’s Julie Mason, on reporting from the front and back rows of the White House briefing room. Tapper talks about the change in his relationship with Press Secretary Gibbs from the campaign to the very public daily briefings. Both agree that WHC tweets are not news but a good source of information. The tweeting birds you hear in the background were not added in post but birds serenading the WH north lawn.
The WH Correspondents Dinner is known for outrageous moments, when a headline comedian roasts the President, who must sit and smile through the jokes. But in 2004, President Bush turned the tables on Jay Leno, giving him a little assist in standing.
It was 2004 and Carl Cannon of National Journal was president of the White House Correspondents Association. National Journal Group Publisher John Fox Sullivan was seated on the dais, with a clear view of President and Laura Bush, and late night talk show host Jay Leno.
Sullivan said, “When it comes time for the president and the first lady to be seated, we all stand up, but Jay Leno was a little slow to rise from his seat. President Bush secretly reached over and goosed Leno, while making a funny sound to startle the comic.”
In a ballroom packed with 2000 reporters, a sitting president grabs an American icon — who is about to tell jokes at the president’s expense! This is what makes the White House Correspondents’ Dinner a must-attend event every year.
“The president looked at Leno with a wonderful jocular smile,” said Sullivan. “Leno burst into laughter. After the speeches people asked what happened. Some thought it looked like Leno tripped.” Sullivan told WHC Insider it was one of the most memorable moments in his 33 years of working in Washington.
Go to the Back Story to watch Leno’s 2004 roast of President Bush, after the president got closer than Leno ever expected.