Opinion Awards: Prom for Wonks!
So Lindsey Graham and Claire McCaskill are debating CAFE standards and "reconciliation" with Washington Post Pulitzer winner Gene Robinson, and you instinctively grab for the remote -- surely Larry King must be interviewing zoo animals or maybe Meghan McCain? But nothing's happening -- McCaskill, et al. won't flip away because ... they're right there in the room with you!
Ah, the chills and thrills of The Week magazine's Opinion Awards -- an annual dinner where pundits give prizes to pundits, every smarty-pants you've ever seen on cable news sits in the audience and the live entertainment is a debate about torture and TARP.
We were there, Monday night at the St. Regis. And lived to tell the tale. What we learned: All those media-political gladiatorial combats on TV? They're fixed! Everyone is secretly best pals. David Axelrod gives a shout-out to "my friend Joe Scarborough ... there are principles he believes in." The Week's editor at large, Margaret Carlson, calls out to Rep. Ed Markey, who "once employed my daughter." And oh, the in-jokes. Columnist of the Year David Brooks notes that at the NYT he sits between Tom Friedman and Maureen Dowd, "what I call Ego Alley."
Cartoonist of the Year Mike Luckovich tells a yarn about the time he crashed a fancy media party by dressing like a Secret Service dude (sunglasses, spiral telephone cord down his collar) and escorting a trusting Henry Kissinger to his table. Moral of the story? "It's fun being a cartoonist."
There's also a Blogger of the Year -- Nate Silver of poll-crunching fivethirtyeight.com, right at our table. Seems too nice and young to be here. We ask him to pass Ben Bradlee the butter, and he grabs Rep. Jane Harman's bread plate instead. Haha, gotcha, newbie! Then Sir Harold Evans announces that "there is a Facebook group, 'Nate Silver Is Totally My Boyfriend,' " and we're suddenly cowed.
And, oh, across the table, those sexy beasts: Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, nudging and shrugging and rolling their eyes at each other -- it's just like watching them on MSNBC but even better because we get to see the back of her head (perfect little blond flip). They're the most alive people in the room, darn it, and that's why they're on air for three hours, while everyone else here gets only three minutes.
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