Washington has an unlikely night spot: team tennis in downtown D.C. Kastles CEO Mark Ein hosts tennis great Billie Jean King during Serena Williams debut match while some of Washington’s power players — Larry Summers, Judy Woodruff, Al Hunt, Luke Russert, Michelle Fenty, Debra Lee, and Ray and Nina Benton — look on.
Serena Williams played for the Washington Kastles last night, after after spending the afternoon at the White House.
She wowed the crowed, which included: NBC’s Betsy Fischer and Luke Russert, Bloomberg’s Al Hunt and Margaret Carlson, Newshour’s Judy Woodruff, Larry Summers from the White House NEC, and venture capitalist and Kastles’ co-founder Mark Ein (those are the Fenty boys next to Mark).
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And Serena showed everyone what they came to see — some great tennis. Serena won her Singles match 5-2 (against Marie Eve-Pelletier), she and Rennae Stubbs won their Doubles match 5-1, and Serena and Leander Paes ran away with the Mixed Doubles match 5-0.
It is always different; the way a White House informs you that you have the President of the United States for an interview. Sometimes it’s a call to warn an important call is coming, and you better agree to the conditions. Often it is four to six people calling to claim credit for making the interview happen. But, as in most things with Obama, this is a drama free process: just an email asking where you can be reached. This email is from Dan Pfeiffer, deputy communications director of the Obama White House, and the cool and collected center of the daily press hub since the beginning of the campaign.
Newsweek, along with everyone else, had a request in to the White House to get more of President Obama’s words on the record. The interview is for Jon Meacham, named Newsweek editor at 29, now just 40. Meacham is a poet-historian and, like Obama, a bestselling author. Pfeiffer’s email advises that we will get our interview and it will be on Air Force One. Despite no video or audio, we were pleased and I reply, “We are in.” There was a quick handover to the operations folks for details of the trip to Phoenix for the President’s commencement address at Arizona State University.
I ask Meacham if he’s ever been on Air Force One, and he said only at the Reagan Library. My only time was during my stint running MSNBC’s 2004 election coverage when 30 Rock was transformed into “Democracy Plaza,” — a piece of an Air Force One plane was part of the plaza-wide exhibition.
Meacham and I meet up with Newsweek star photographer Khue Bui, a White House press corps veteran and delightful campaign trail mate, who will round out the Newsweek Air Force One team. We arrive at Andrews Air Force Base looking like the desk jockeys we are; editors and producers aren’t usually allowed out of their bureaus.
We watch as the entire White House traveling press corps arrives for a security check; however, they’ll be traveling on the press charter plane departing ahead of Air Force One.
The glamour that is associated with being a White House correspondent, and the glitz of the premiere political beat, wears off pretty quickly once you’re actually inside the cramped and sometimes clammy work spaces where the press corps spends its days and often its evenings and nights.
ABC News Chief White House Correspondent Jake Tapper gave WHCInsider a tour of the press set up and operations inside the West Wing.
Check out our earlier story on the renovation of the White House Briefing Room.
Who is happier: Former Speaker Newt Gingrich or former Governor Mitt Romney?
The White House Correspondents Dinner has dominated the headlines over the years with celebrity sightings, presidential roasts, and comedy routines.
This year President Obama used the cover of the dinner to have a private meeting with one of the top GOP contenders for the 2012 nomination, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, Jr. Obama asked Huntsman to be Ambassador to China and Huntsman said yes. That is another blow to the GOP and another notch on the President’s 2012 belt.
Click here for Marc Ambinder’s analysis.
After the tour de force from President Obama, it didn’t seem like the night could be any more magical. But as guests walked up the circular drive for the Bloomberg | Vanity Fair after party at the French Ambassador’s residence, the magic continued. It was the ultimate insiders affair: no red carpet or paparazzi gauntlet, just Owen Wilson lounging near the front door talking quietly to a few Washington admirers.
With Donald Rumsfeld, who lives down the street, stopping by for a drink, it was a night, a location, and a crowd where anything could happen. Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter, joining party forces this year, welcomed the exclusive guests.
The brave captain of the Maresk Alabama, who offered his life in exchange for his mates, was Bloomberg’s special guest for the weekend. That followed getting the keys to New York City from Mayor Bloomberg the day before. Captain Richard Phillips shrugged off the compliments of celebrities (Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore) and politicos who lined up to shake his hand, but he did pose proudly with another real-life Captain America, Chesley Sullenberger, who safely piloted a US Airways jet onto the Hudson River.
Earlier in the day, Phillips and his wife, Andrea, met with President Obama in the Oval Office, after a private tour of the White House. The unflappable captain told Bloomberg it was an “honor to meet the President. He’s a very amazing man and he’s a very down-to-earth man.” His wife agreed, “It was very overwhelming, surreal to actually, be inside the Oval Office … I was so deeply excited to have met the President like that.”
After being introduced to the Commander-in-chief, Phillips admitted it was hard to get excited about meeting anyone else after being introduced to the Commander-in-Chief.
The Examiner’s Jeff Dufour got the scoop of the night: Who wrote the President’s comedy routine? Jon Favreau, the president’s chief speechwriter. Favreau told The Examiner it took him two weeks, working with speechwriter Jon Lovett, Obama political adviser David Axelrod, and a team of joke writers, to craft the punch lines. He also said they spent several hours on Friday, working out Obama’s opening sight gag with the teleprompter screens.
If you weren’t one of the lucky 250 to attend the Bloomberg/Vanity Fair After Party the courteous folks at Bloomberg have brought back their After Party Web site so you see inside the party…. CLICK on http://www.bloomberg.com/afterparty/
The Father of the Modern Political Panel Talk Show, John McLaughlin, came to national prominence as President Nixon’s priest who defended him so well on television after his fall. But for many in Washington, he’s almost as well known for his Sunday brunch on the White House Correspondents Dinner weekend. One of the great traditions for A-listers (local and Hollywood based) is to wake up and head on over for more people watching. “The McLaughlin Group” is the first panel political show to put opinions and humor into Sunday morning political talk. From the beginning McLaughlin captured and advanced the conversation with original panelists like Robert Novak, Jack Germond and Mort Kondracke to the omnipresent Patrick Buchanan. The long suffering Eleanor Clift still holds her own, while Moynihan “hottie” Lawrence O’Donnell has brought in a new audience to this Washington staple. McLaughlin owns his show which is both on NBC and syndicated on PBS stations around the country. Others have tried and failed to compete with his original delivery and thought provoking banter. He is the ringmaster and makes politics more accessible to audiences that would not watch a cable show.
His unique place in the political conversation has made his brunch just as thought provoking. When Robert DeNiro was prepping for “Wag The Dog” he was McLaughlin’s guest for the WHCD. The double takes as DeNiro talked to Laura Ingraham and Janet Langhart was a classic McLaughlin brunch moment. The occasional appearance of Tom Selleck, as well as VP Cheney and other cabinet officials of both parties, caused an incredible fight for an invitation. The brunch, then in McLaughlin’s Woodland Drive home, has become another weekend tradition.
This year’s Brunch at Teatro Goldoni, the first to coincide with Mother’s Day, brought out a crowd that included, Tivo Chairman Tom Rogers, Nancy Bagley, Soroush Shehabi, Nicole Bagley, former Sec. of Defense Bill Cohen, Beth and Ron Dozoretz, Fred and Marlene Malik, Buzz Aldrin, Debbie and John Dingell, Amb. Ivonne A-Baki, Susan Hurley, Tandy and Wyatt Dickerson, Pat Buchanan and wife Shelley, Ali and Mark Russell, Spike and Tina Karalikis, Jim Kimsey, former Md. Cong. Tom McMillen, Judith Czelusniak, PR worldwide Bloomberg, and Dr. Christine Warnke among others.
More pictures of today’s brunch after the jump. [Read more…]