Over the weekend, a bunch of no-name stars, a few real stars and a slew of journalists and politicians showed up to the most obnoxious Washington weekend of the year: The famed White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Wherever you went, there they were: the casts of Scandal, House of Cards, and Veep with Cosmopolitan Mag’s Editor-in-Chief Joanna Coles tagging along. How much could these people possibly have to say? Well, it turns out, a lot.
What at first was interesting eventually became endless babble. The tipping point came when I saw Scandal‘s Katie Lowes (Quinn) Sunday brunching in Washington’s Adams Morgan neighborhood at Napolean, after she was everywhere from Politico‘s Playbook Breakfast Friday to Tammy Haddad‘s bullshit This Town brunch to, of course, the dinner. Honestly, it got a little tiresome.
MSNBC’s Touré had his GQ moment Friday night on the red carpet of the Canadian Embassy at a party hosted by The Hill and Entertainment Tonight. Asked what his highlight of the weekend was so far, he said it was running into one of his co-hosts, Crystal Ball. He downplayed my assessment that he’s a “mini-celebrity,” but you could tell he knows it’s true — even though some of his journalist peers are aghast that he has the audacity to go by one name.
Aside from hellacious small talk and Asperger’s-quality conversations, the parties definitely had their moments. There was fun to be had. Like in the BuzzFeed photo booth. Or downing Spike Mendelsohn-inspired whiskey maple milkshakes at the Canadian Embassy that were heaven in a dixie cup. But let’s all just be glad it’s over.
Editor’s note: Grae Stafford is responsible for the photographs. The content of The Mirror‘s Tick Tock is brought to you by myself, Daily Caller‘s Executive Editor Vince Coglianese and Patrick Howley.
Saturday, 5 p.m. Patrick Howley, who’s been tasked with helping with this Tick Tock, writes to say he’ll be a few minutes late. Uh oh. This could mean any number of things, including that he’s been kidnapped by pandas at the National Zoo.
5:15 p.m. After much thought, we decide against asking the “Where did you get your cocaine?” question to WHCD guests.
5:34 p.m. Howley has arrived at this point. A bit disheveled, but he’s there inside the Washington Hilton. He says he’d rather be outside with the protestors, with whom he bonded on his way inside.
5:35 p.m. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has arrived to the Hilton. He walks the red carpet and stops to smile for the mass of cameras that await.
5:36 p.m. Actor Tony Goldwyn, who plays Fitzgerald Grant on Scandal, is making his way across the red carpet. Journos are shouting things at him, treating him like he’s a piece of meat. He doesn’t linger and quickly makes his way to the Yahoo! News party, a strangely-lit room that quickly fills up.
5:37 p.m. SiriusXM’s Julie Mason, in a deep v-neck dress, is here looking all glam. She said a hairdresser came to her house to help a bunch of female journos get ready for the night.
5:38 p.m. I spot a shiny red white & blue flag on a male across the room. I approach and politely ask if I can take a picture of his ridiculous vest. I’m about to take the picture when I move my eyes from his torso to his face and realize it’s none other than BuzzFeed‘s Benny Johnson. OMG! Asked if he’s been scolded yet by security, he shares a pretty funny story about the cops pointlessly winding yellow tape around and around a tree outside, forcing him to take another route. We briefly discuss how stupid the police are here.
5:40 p.m. Security personnel scold us. We’re not causing havoc. We’re not even drinking yet, which needs to happen soon. This is the third time we’ve been scolded. I see Howley slip into the ether. When we were upstairs standing outside the Hilton, that was a no-no. So was standing in random places inside. Wherever you went, security could decide at any moment that they needed to “clear the space.” For instance, as a few journos stood beside the humongous pack of journalists on the red carpet, security suddenly said the fire marshall was clearing the tinny patch of space. What the fuck?
5:41 p.m. Vince slyly hands Howley an Atlantic invite. This goes south fast. Howley shows it to the women with the guest lists. They say, “We need your last name.” An offended Howley says, “Oh, is that the case?” And then he storms off. He explains later, “I hate the elites.”
5:42 p.m. Howley: “I got ditched by coworkers and am getting hardcore scolded. Howls rejected from Atlantic party.” He sneaks into the AP party. He writes, “AP party is sad and ugly.” Asked to explain further, he says, “Bartender at AP party confirms party sucks. The people are ugly.”
5:45 p.m. Howley continues, “Just met Pussy Riot. Bunch of divas. They were pretty stuck up. Just told Media Matters‘ David Brock great Anita Hill piece. He laughed his ass off. Reinvest [a.k.a "Reince" not on autocorrect] Priebus and Richard Sherman on first-name basis. Have met before.”
5:47 p.m. ABC’s investigative correspondent Brian Ross is here with his son. He says he finds the entire White House Correspondents’ Dinner to be in poor taste. This is his first time to the dinner and he says he’s here only because he has won an award. “I’ve never been to one of these things,” Ross told The Mirror. “I try to avoid them. It’s not my taste. I’m usually on the outside trying to get in.”
5:50 p.m. Some guy has no idea where he is. “What party are we at?” he asks. Jesus Christ is this going to be a long night.
5:55 p.m. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) has arrived to The Atlantic/CBS pre-party. In tow is a body guard. Maybe old people can’t defend themselves? (Update: Since he’s third in the line of succession behind Veep Biden and Speaker Boehner, he gets security.)
5:56 p.m. Actor Jeff Goldblum (The Fly, etc..) just walked into The Atlantic party. Can’t here what he’s saying but I’m sure it’s been said in staccato.
5:57 p.m. Seth Meyers‘ musical director Fred Armison is here with his date, Mother Jones Washington Bureau Chief David Corn. Asked how he feels about being at the WHCD, he replies dryly, “I’m so bored. I’m over it. This is my fourth time.” More seriously, he adds, “When I’m 90, I want to feel like I went to as many things as I could.”
5:57 p.m. Karl Frisch of Bullfight Strategies is taking what will be one of many selfies of the weekend. This one’s with Armison.
5:58 p.m. The House of Cards cast is now taking turns taking photos of one another next to a Correspondents’ Dinner sign.
5:59 p.m. A female writer at The Atlantic party remarks, “I want David Corn’s life. He always has the best dates and he doesn’t have to have sex with them.”
6 p.m. Seattle Seahawks’ Richard Sherman just walked into The Atlantic party. He’s surrounded instantly.
6:01 p.m. A bunch of lawmakers are spotted talking. They include Reps. Kevin McCarthy and Trey Gowdy along with Sen. Patrick Leahy. Frank Luntz, the GOP pollster, is dressed like a slob. He leaves the second Leahy steps into the circle.
6:02 p.m. Random party guests: “We need to go to the Washington Times,” says a tuxedo-clad dude to a woman he’s with. “I need to take their alcohol. I need to take their alcohol.” She convinces him to move on without crashing the Times party….for now.
6:03 p.m. “Duck Dynasty’s” Willie Robertson and his wife are at The Washington Times party. Partygoers eat them up.
6:04 p.m. The house scotch at The Washington Times party is Cutty Sark. It’ll have to do. “Most of these stars are B-grade!” grouses an elderly woman in the hall. “Unless you watch daytime TV you won’t know who they are.”
6:05 p.m. Jessica Simpson‘s name starts surfacing. Is she here? (Indeed, she is.)
6:06 p.m. Jonathan Goldsmith, the “Most Interesting Man in the World” is here. For the initiated, this is the guy from the Dos Equis beer commercials. He’s with his wife. Strangers and journalists continually approach wanting to meet him and take pictures. He deals with the whole thing pretty graciously. (That’s Geoff Morrell, a former ABC News reporter and Pentagon spokesman, in the photo chumming it up with Mr. Interesting.)
6:07 p.m. Big bitch of a woman in an off-white sequins outfit. Tried to stop my interview with House of Cards actor Michael Kelly, who plays Frank Underwood‘s Chief of Staff Doug Stamper. She starts semi-trash talking Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Tucker Carlson. Said she worked with him at CNN. “She works at Tucker Carlson’s outfit,” she tells the actor in a snide, whiny voice. She eyes him intently, explains it’s a “conservative” publication, like why would you talk to her? The actor, unfazed, continues talking to me. She says, “You know Tucker. He’s the one who used to wear those bow ties,” she says all animated, placing her hands at her neck mimicking a bow-tie, while standing in a sea of bow-ties.
Kelly, meanwhile, chats with The Mirror. He says his time in Washington has been “awesome.” What are the best parts? “Meeting Nancy Pelosi, meeting Valerie Jarrett. I got to hang out with my buddy Chris Matthews.” Asked if he went to A.A. meetings to gain insight for his alcoholic character, he says he did. Asked if he knew about the world of A.A. previously, he laughed, “Other than I should be there?”
6:10 p.m. Mortifying moment when Scandal’s Scott Foley (who plays Jake) forces me to take a selfie with him. (Unpublished. Sorry. That one’s for me.)
6:12 p.m. One of the flacks at the party who is momentarily confused for a starlet tells me she hates the word “flack.” She says the word offends her: “I will hack whoever says that.”
6:45 p.m. Somewhere in the hallways of the Washington Hilton, Patrick Howley gets into what he describes as a “silent standoff” with MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow. I’ll let Howley describe it in his own words: “He tried to push through me in the hallway, looking down like a self-involved douchebag, glaring from side to side as if unaware that he was merely the 18th most recognizable person in the hall. I refused to cede to him because I only make way for people who get better than a 2 share. He was forced to wait for someone else to move.” No words were exchanged.
7 p.m. Vince is HEAVILY bonding with The Daily Banter‘s Tommy Christopher. I cannot tear them away from each other. Christopher, in what is now his signature top hat, is extremely parched. Though the bar is now closed, I get him a bottle of water as he explains why The Daily Caller is racist and Vince shoots down his comments.
Vince convinces him to put his ridiculously oversized phone to his ear for a photo. It’s pure elfin’ magic.
Christopher is being all cagey about how he’s attending the dinner and who has invited him. He won’t say who invited him. I can’t stop people from looking around the room and seeing me there, he says.
He goes on to defend the dinner from it’s annual criticism, saying that he doesn’t understand why everybody attacks the WHCD: We journalists work too hard and we deserve this, he says.
He says, “I think people who whine about the dinner didn’t get invited.” Of his warfare with Tucker Carlson over the years, he gives a status update: “I don’t want to punch him.”
7-11ish BuzzFeed party is spacious and lovely. This year they’ve secured two floors of Jack Rose so people aren’t sweating all over one another and alcohol is easy to obtain. The usual BuzzFeedian suspects are walking around — Ashley McCollum in a red, lace dress, John Stanton, Dorsey Shaw (we bond over CNN’s missing Malaysian plane coverage — no, not really), Ben Smith (spotted chatting all night long), selfie-king Benny Johnson, McKay Coppins and his wife.
Others spotted in the crowd: The Daily Beast‘s Eli Lake, foreign policy reporter Jamie Kerchick, Slate‘s Dave Weigel, HuffPost‘s Michael Calderone, WaPo‘s Jackie Kucinich, CNN’s Matt Dornic, FBDC’s Nick Massella, Speaker John Boehner‘s (R-Ohio) flack Michael Steel and wife, Mary Kathryn, GOP media consultant Ron Bonjean (see him pictured above in his festive blazer) and wife, Sara. Mother Jones‘ smooth character Assawin Suebsaeng (pictured below) is here. He says he “fucking loves” The Mirror Questionnaire (so stay tuned). WaPo‘s Aaron Blake is at the party. He shows me not just pictures of his dog, but the web cab he has set up so we can actually see his dog from the party. He blends in with the cream-colored couch so it’s hard to really see him, but he’s alive. BuzzFeed‘s Andrew Kaczynski, in a backwards baseball cap, is talking about his cat (after I ask). He says he sort of enjoyed his 12-mile run here in Washington (after I ask). He says he doesn’t drink.
Eddie Scarry (alum of The Blaze, FBDC, Human Events) drops a glass on the balcony. It crashes and breaks, the hard alcohol splashing on my toes. Jack Rose employees quickly fly in and clean up the mess. He teaches me everything there is to know about iPhone emoticons. Eventually he says he has to leave. “I have a life you know,” he jokes.
11ish…I have a pretty lengthy discussion with BuzzFeed‘s Evan McMorris-Santoro outside the bar about Tammy Haddad‘s brunch, to which he was not invited. He’s sitting on a railing. “But what do people do there?” he keeps asking, struggling to understand the actual importance of this party. He says it’s the old guard. At some point some woman walks up and tells him how absolutely wonderful his wife is. She goes on and on about her. He agrees with her.
Sunday, 11:30 a.m., Yahoo! News brunch at the Newseum: Just heard yet another person ask, “Did you read that Hollywood Reporter piece about how celebrities don’t want to come to the WHCD anymore because they get mobbed everywhere?” She then proceeded to explain to her friend that she learned how to play it cool around celebrities a long time ago: “Just act like it’s no big deal.”