Washington’s social reporters at Politico have proclaimed the first state dinner of Julianna Smoot’s Reign as White House Social Secretary a hit! Join all of Washington perusing the final guest list to figure out how they became the lucky few.
White House favorite Sarah Feinberg, who has been Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor to White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, joins Bloomberg L.P. as director of communication and business strategy efforts, with an emphasis on expanding Bloomberg’s global presence.
“Sarah has demonstrated the strategic leadership that will build on Bloomberg’s position in Washington and across the globe,” said Kevin Sheekey, head of government relations and public affairs at Bloomberg L.P. and chairman of the new government information division. “Her experience at the intersection of communications, politics and public policy, her track record of managing complex issues and teams and her entrepreneurial spirit will be tremendous assets at Bloomberg.”
“I’m thrilled to be joining Bloomberg at such an exciting time for the Company,” said Feinberg. “As Bloomberg expands its presence in Washington and prepares to launch its government information division, I’m looking forward to being a part of an organization with such an impressive record of innovation and entrepreneurship.”
Feinberg, who is married to White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer, will oversee all Washington-based communications across the Bloomberg product portfolio.
This weekend Ed Chen will end his reign as the President of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Before he hands the mantle over to Reuters’ Caren Bohan and heads back to Bloomberg, Chen spoke with WHC Insider’s Tammy Haddad at the White House.
The Senior White House Correspondent has honchoed the Press Corps during the transition into a new administration. Recently, Chen and several colleagues sat down with Press Secretary Robert Gibbs and White House staffers to discuss grievances from both sides of the table.
“We had a mutual exchange and we worked out a lot of issues, and cleared the air. And I think things will get better, especially from our perspective, with greater press access,” said Chen.
Speaking of sitting down, Chen has offered his seat in the press room for a day to Lloyd Grove whose recent article in The Daily Beast questioned whether social media like Twitter and YouTube would be the end of reporting from the White House as we know it.
As reported by Politico’s Mike Allen, mere days ago White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs met with a delegation from the White House Correspondents’ Association, headed by Ed Chen, WHCA president and Bloomberg News White House correspondent.
Chen asked for the meeting “to clear the air because in my 10-plus years at the White House, rarely have I sensed such a level of anger, which is wide and deep, among members over White House practices and attitude toward the press.”
The two sides spoke on a number of issues including improved press access. Chen told Politico that he felt “very good about the collegial give and take.” Read the full interview from Politico.
Would Chen still feel that way, however, after watching Gibbs’ interview on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” with Howard Kurtz? Gibbs admitted he does “wonder at times what it would be like if we turned the cameras off and we could just have a discussion. I sometimes joke that I know when somebody thinks they have a good question, because when I walk in they’ve already got their makeup on.”
Gibbs also lamented the cable “spin cycle” and marveled at Twitter, which he called a “fascinating, fast-moving medium.”
Former Washingtonian and Washington Post reporter Lloyd Grove has picked up the attack against White House correspondents launched by Ana Marie Cox last year. Ana Marie, did you spend anytime with Lloyd at Michael’s when you visited your new GQ editors in NYC? Grove’s Daily Beast blog recently harrumphed against the hardworking, hard tweeting members of the most exclusive club in Washington journalism – the ones who report to work at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
While I enjoy Michael’s like the next media maven, what’s so wrong with covering the leader of the free world 30 feet from his office and home? Grove’s complaint about Robert Gibbs tweeting reminds of when we began putting Ross Perot and President Bush and a former governor by the name of Bill Clinton on Larry King Live in 1992. Our newsroom colleagues lamented the end of journalism, but social media didn’t just start on the Internet; interactivity has always been an important part of journalism.
Ask Dan Pfeiffer, the president’s communications director, how much his press shop likes responding to the five reporters who call with follows on each White House reporters’ tweet. Take a quick look at the stories and interviews done by NBC’s Chuck Todd and Savannah Guthrie as well as ABC’s Jake Tapper; you want them to pull back and tweet from Café Milano?
Tell WHC Insider what you think after reading Lloyd Grove’s column.
Now that the dust has settled and the 2009 election results have sunk in, the pondering and pontificating by the pundit elite (and not so elite) continues on cable news and online media sites about what the results mean for the president and the nation’s political future. Much of what is discussed is, and will continue to be, partisan in nature (as is the nature of cable news) and quite frankly, without much merit or solid research beyond party talking points and Wikipedia entries.
Discussions have been playing out on MSNBC, CNN and Fox News on whether Obama’s coattails are still strong; whether 2009 elections are a prediction of the 2010 midterms; whether the GOP can turn 2 key gubernatorial wins into a midterm Congressional movement, and so on. Most of these are unknowns, but there is one major continuous thread of the ’08 and now ’09 election cycle that is guaranteed to be part of every successful future campaign whether GOP or Dem or Conservative or Independent: the integrated use of social media and online communications (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, SMA, web 2.0, etc), combined with an authentic, engaging candidate, must be paramount within a campaign’s overall strategy in order to be successful.
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“By the People,” the HBO documentary by Amy Rice and Alicia Sims, brought together top Obama campaign veterans and the press corps that followed them through the historic 2008 election for a backslapping, bear-hugging reunion at the newly renovated Motion Picture Association of America. HBO President Richard Plepler greeted top White House advisers Anita Dunn, Austan Goolsbee, Dan Pfeiffer, Sarah Feinberg, Bill Burton, Mike Blake, Dag Vega, and Washington’s newest Chicago import Susan Sher, the First Lady’s longtime friend and chief of staff.
The filmmakers’ Obama bus mates were well represented in the 80-plus crowd beginning with bestselling author Richard Wolffe, Obama “original” Juliana Goldman, Lynne Sweet, plus several campaign heavy hitters: Mike Allen, Mark Leibovitch, Jeff Zeleny, and David Jackson.
Representing the 2008 TV and pundit corps: Hilary Rosen, Jonathan Capehart, Betsy Fischer, and David Chalian.
The party went into overdrive when Reggie Love huddled with Richard Plepler; one line formed to take photos with Love and another to shake hands and schmooze with Plepler.
Washington’s elite came out to watch the HBO screening: Ben Bradlee, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, George and Liz Stevens, and Bob Barnett. And all eyes were on Barnett and the HBO chief, as they huddled over their upcoming projects.
Obama media man Jim Margolis and White House Communications Director Anita Dunn spoke after the screening, reminding the crowd that Rice and Sims joined the campaign in 2006. And after an inspiring speech about the campaign, Margolis told how he meticulously prepared for commercial shoots at the critical campaign moment Rice and Sims were always present, whether it was around the campaign office or stepping in a the right moment to get the shot of the candidate who made history. Dunn said the film captured the special feeling of what it was like to work on the campaign and that “there will not be another campaign that was like the Obama 2008 campaign…people felt that they were a part of something much bigger than one individual.”
Reggie Love, who was always one step in front of or behind Obama in the film, attended the screening with two BlackBerry’s in hand, greeting many of those who spent hours covering the candidate or working on the campaign. MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe, who made several appearances in the film, cheered and laughed along with his colleagues as the audience could see through the camera lens the sometimes quiet and sometimes frantic moments of the campaign.
For many it was a chance to relive the excitement of the campaign, for others it was to catch up with Obama people who are now running the country.
“By The People” premieres November 3rd at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.
By Neil Grace and Catherine Hill
MSNBC threw a memorable Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner after-party that stood apart from parties past. Held directly across the street from the main event at the Washington Convention Center, MSNBC turned the traditionally staid Historical Society of Washington, D.C. into a brightly-lit fete of themed cocktails, glowing neon necklaces and comfort food.
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As guests walked down the blue carpet entrance, we asked them the question of the night: are you a nerd or a jock? Politico’s Mike Allen said he was “all of the above!” and Patrick Gavin thought he was a hybrid of the two. NBC’s Andrea Mitchell exclaimed she was a “total jock.” John “I’m a PC” Hodgman discussed the modern cultural divide at length during the dinner.
Inside the party, the scene downstairs included a Starbucks-sponsored coffee bar where guests ate ice cream sundaes and desserts. From the main bar, guests walked outside to a large outdoor patio, where dance music had the party-goers on their feet for “Don’t Stop Believing.” Faces and heads glowed in the light of neon necklaces and headbands.
Upstairs, special guest bartender Rachel Maddow was mixing up cocktails at her heavily-branded “Rachel Maddow’s Bar”– complete with MSNBC napkins and “Rachel’s Bar” menus. Maddow’s signature cocktail was listed as a Hearst: a mix of gin, sweet vermouth and bitters (though she told us she actually served more of her cava drink, “Airmail” which mixed rum, fresh lime juice, honey and the bubbly cava on top). Afterwards, Maddow relinquished her bar duties to catch up with Ana Marie Cox and John Hodgman.
Later in the night passed treats included mini-pancakes and mini-ham, bacon and cheese croissants. As the bars began to close, guests went out back. Among the last to leave at 3:00 a.m. were MSNBC Morning Joe’s Willie Geist, Luke Russert and many of the cable network’s junior staffers.
Media heavy-hitters spotted at the party: Steve Capus, Tamron Hall, Norah O’Donnell, Contessa Brewer with Matt Ackland, Joe Scarborough with Mika Brzezinski, David Shuster, Carlos Watson, Chris Matthews, Lynn Sweet, Margaret Carlson, and Eugene Robinson.
Politicos rounded out the guest list, including Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama economic adviser Larry Summers, as well as Hilary Rosen, Alex Castellanos, Brad Dayspring, and Kevin Madden.
Move it to a Friday night (for the first time), bring a celebrity bartender to the after-party, and the night is guaranteed to go long. The Radio-TV Correspondents’ dinner festivities didn’t break until several hours after midnight.
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The MSNBC-thrown after-party, attended by Obama advisers David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, among others, had a different vibe than Fox’s fondly remembered 2004 disco affair: more cocktails and comfort-food. Contessa Brewer’s black dress, with its open back, was one of the more daring of the evening and drew admirers; her lengthy conversation with NBC News president Steve Capus had some guessing. The special drinks that Rachel Maddow was mixing up behind the bar — including her “signature cocktail” the Hearst (gin, sweet vermouth and bitters) — must have been potent: The last of the NBC junior staffers trickled out after 3 a.m.
As for the dinner itself, the reviews are in: President Obama was pretty funny. Then again, it’s hard to know — it could be just another manifestation of that whole being-in-bed-with-the-press phenomenon that he poked fun at in his remarks last night. “Why bother hanging out with celebrities when I can spend time with people who make me one?” Obama said, comparing the RTCA event to the Hollywood celeb-studded White House Correspondents Association dinner in May.
Unlike the WHCD, there was no one line that everyone grabbed on to, but the papers, Twitterers and bloggers found plenty to like, although they appear to be tiring of his frequent jokes about chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s colorful vocabulary. (Last night’s: “In Egypt, we had the opportunity to tour the pyramids. And by now, I’m sure you’ve all seen the pictures of Rahm on that camel. I admit, I was a little nervous about the whole situation. I said at the time, ‘This is a wild animal known to bite, kick and spit. And who knows what the camel could do.’ “) [Read more…]
The night’s tone of gentle ribbing was set early, before the President’s speech, with JibJab’s much-awaited new video, “He’s Barack Obama,” which depicted the President as a superhero capable of knocking out pirates.
Author, actor and occasional “Daily Show” contributor John Hodgman’s “nerd v. jock” speech following the president got raves from some, seemed to go over the heads of others, and appeared to have found its most-important mark: President Obama laughed with seemingly real appreciation, as he was quizzed about his apparent love of comic book characters and sci-fi, and egged into giving the Vulcan salute.
Before the speeches, an Onion News Network “special report” poking mild fun at TV anchors who talked too much fell flat on TV, but got laughs in the room, according to some. President Obama watched attentively as Sweet Honey in the Rock performed.
A short video paid tribute to three journalists who passed away in the last year: CNN’s Bill Headline, NBC’s Tim Russert and Tony Snow, the Fox News anchor-turned-White House spokesman.
The Joan Barone Award went to Mike Viqueira, NBC News’ Capitol Hill producer, while the three daughters of David J. Bloom caused some to tear up as they presented the award named in memory of their father to Orla Guerin, the Africa correspondent for the BBC. It was accepted in her name by BBC America’s Rome Hartman.