Notes on the @Mediaite Party

Editor’s note: I realize that this is insanely detailed and disjointed, but it’s more for me than for you, sorry. I don’t get the chance to just crap out random thoughts very often (no wisecracks, please), so I’m indulging myself a little.

Last night, I had the honor of attending a celebration of my success with Mediaite, and I wanted to share some details with you all while they’re still fresh in my (now-sober) mind. True to my reputation as a notorious lightweight, I was buzzing after my second glass of wine. I picked up a third glass, just to use as a prop, but I ended up drinking that too. It didn’t help that I hadn’t eaten all day. I did snarf down several slices of baguette-n-brie.

I wasn’t off my ass or anything, just loose enough to talk to Dan Rather without being nervous. Shit, I’ve skipped to the best part already. More on that later.

The smokin’ hottie in that picture is standing next to Rachel Sklar, my boss and birthday girl of the evening. She was wearing a short, sequin-y little number that said “Look at me! You won’t be sorry!” The pic is actually from the afterparty. I didn’t take any pictures myself. I have a big enough deficit of cool without bugging luminaries for snapshots.

The event was very well-attended. I think Dan Rather was the first big name (besides me) to show up. The camera crew from “Extra!” bogarted him for, like, half an hour. Then, he was shooting the breeze with Dan Abrams and his parents (Abrams’ parents, not Rather’s). I did manage to meet Rather’s wife Jean, like, 6 times last night. I asked her what it’s like to be Mrs. Dan Rather, and she said “It’s not like anything else!”

I finally managed to catch Dan Rather away from the herd, and introduced myself. He was cordial, “nice to meet you” and all, but then Abrams’ mom came over to talk to him, so I kinda drifted away. About 15 minutes later, Rather actually came and found me to continue our conversation. We talked about foreign policy for awhile. I had to laugh when he asked me if I had ever been to Afghanistan. I’ve been to Sandals Montego Bay, and that’s about it.

It goes without saying that it was a great honor to meet a broadcasting legend like Dan Rather, and if I had any sense, I’d have been a nervous, stammering fool. This is true of a lot of what I do, I’ve realized. Over the course of the evening, a lot of people asked me about working at the White House, and I related the fact that barely 2 years ago, I was a health insurance consultant. Like last night’s gathering, I often wonder if I belong in that room, but I’m more consumed by gratitude that I am in that room.

Ann Curry and Meredith Vieira showed up next, and spent most of the time imprisoned by that Extra! crew. I wanted to say hello to Anne, whom I met at the White house not long ago, but she and Meredith did a Keyser Soze while I was grazing at the brie table.

Hoda Kotbe was there, but I didn’t meet her. She didn’t manage to escape the Extra! crew until Dan Abrams was giving his speech. He thanked me (and a bunch of other people), and talked about the launch of our new sites. In all seriousness, Dan has been a real source of encouragement to me, as have Rachel and the rest of the Mediaite editors. The amount of recognition/buzz the site has generated in such a short time is truly amazing. As much as I wish it had something to do with me, I think Dan and Rachel just knocked the launch out of the park, and had people talking about us from Jump Street.

I got to mingle with my co-workers, many of whom I had never met before. First, I spent the day working at the Mediaite office, which was great for me. I cranked out 4 stories yesterday, and I was only there from noon to 6. Then, we headed up to the Plaza Hotel on the “W” train. I know, it sounds made-up, but there’s really a “W” train. I rode the subway with Steve Krakauer and Keith, an Abrams Research staffer. We talked shop during the train ride, but they were both making me nervous by leaning against the doors. Those scary subway PSAs from the 70’s stuck with me.

The other thing about Mediaite is that it’s a very young office. Or maybe I just think that everyone who looks younger than me is automatically 19, I don’t know. It’s not an issue for me, it’s just kind of weird. Makes me question my own maturity.

My editor, Colby Hall, was my designated sherpa/goto guy when I had nobody else to talk to. When he introduced me to his wife, I thought he said her name was “Jolene,” so I composed a joke in my head (“Do people often ask that you not take their man just because you can?”), but I didn’t have an opening. I found out later that it was “Geraldine,” at which point I related my untold joke. I then made the observation that you just don’t hear Dolly Parton jokes anymore, which sort of made everyone uncomfortable. Geraldine suggested I go with a Flip Wilson reference, but the moment was gone.

Geraldine works for Glamour magazine, so I tried, incoherently, to explain my objection to their plus-size model experiment. I realized that it was more hostility on my part to social ideals about beauty than anything else. Fascinating, huh?

Rachel and Glynnis were constantly in motion, schmoozing the guests and laughing it up. Another Mediaite-er, Ruthie, was working the door. Yesterday was the first time I’d put a face to the name I send my invoices to. I always pictured her as a stern librarian type, but she’s actually super-young and perky enough to make Katie Couric seem dour. She just seemed really glad to see everyone, and it really put me at ease when I first got there. I was expecting some big dude with a clipboard to say “Who the fuck are you?”

Lindsey, an Abrams Research intern-turned staffer, was also there to work the party, and was another friendly face in the crowd. I remembered her from the last time I visited the office, when she was an intern. She’s really tall, and has a really nice, big smile. She reminds me of Donna Prepon a little.

I  met some other Mediaite contributors, like Jose Simian, Melissa Lafsky, and Pat Kiernan (to whom I apologized for being a disgrace of an Irishman), and Daniel, who was really nice, and whose name I’m embarrassed to have forgotten. In my defense, I had finished that third wine, and when Jenny (whose name I inwardly appended with the phrase “from the block”) introduced me to him, it sounded like she said “Danielle.” I think that quirk loomed so large in my mind, it pushed out his last name.

Here’s the thing. I often don’t know people I should know. For example, Andrew Tyndall of The Tyndall Report was there. Now, instead of acting like I knew all about him, I was just like, “Duhhhhh.” He was a great guy. We shot the breeze about Sherwood Forest and whatnot, and it was cool. I also met Danny Shea from HuffPo, and I mistakenly pegged a long phone call I’d had with Ryan Grim to him. I’m sure my Young Columbo act wears thin in these situations, but it’s all I have.

That’s why I didn’t introduce myself to Kat Kane until the end of the afterparty. She just looks like somebody who should be on TV, so I was convinced I was going to say “And you are…” and have her say “Duh, I’m Salma Hayek” or something. She actually introduced herself to me, and I found out that before she wrote “Winners and Losers” for Mediaite, she worked on Dan Abrams’ MSNBC show. We got to talking, and it occurred to me that I’d never told Dan how much I had enjoyed his show. It seems like such an obvious suck-uppy thing to say, I guess I never bothered. That show, though, had the best things about Mediaite going for it. It was a really smart, yet accessible, show that really dug into the news in a fresh, evenhanded way. Plus, I remember it being really funny, and not in that snarktastic bloggerish way.

Oh look, we got written up in Vanity Fair. Nice. Not one Tommy X mention.

I also got to meet Contessa Brewer, with whom I briefly commiserated about the singular experience that is the John Ziegler interview. The best part of Morning Joe, Willie Geist w,as there, too. He’s tall, like, Chuck Schumer tall.

Then, there was Rex Sorgatz, whose life story I was recently drawn into thanks to my Chief Editor. In a room full of people whom I wasn’t the most anything of, I didn’t even get to be the quirkiest guy in the room. I should’ve worn the Firefly jacket.

As I said before, I also got to meet Katie Couric for a second. I wanted to ask her about the Sarah Palin interview, but I think Dan Abrams’ Spidey sense started tingling, because he waved me off. Katie, if you’re reading this, nice job on that one. That interview will go down in history. (Sorry, Zig.)

Oh, cool, here’s some video of Dan’s speech. That’s the back of my head towards the end there.

Dammit, I just now realized I met Katie Baker last night and didn’t know it! I really enjoy her writing. She’s the one who offered me cheese at the afterparty! I accepted the cheese gratefully.

At the afterparty, I had a really long talk with the Panel Nerds, who didn’t seem all that nerdy to me. Guess that says something about my own NQ. That was cool, because they had lots of questions about my favorite subject, and his work in the White House press room. This is proof that I can talk, as I was able to occupy two guys who are used to listening to entire panels. I was a Panel of One.

I felt a real kinship with those guys. They seemed to really get how lucky we all are to get paid for doing something we love.

At the end of the night, I got a chance to talk to Rachel for awhile, which was nice. It was her birthday, as I mentioned. I had been kind of a pain in the ass at the office, as I often am to my editors, so I hope I was able to convey the gratitude I feel toward her for giving me this chance. It was Daily Dose’s own Lee Stranahan who introduced me to Rachel in June, an act that I am certain will be vindicated by history. She could have easily judged me a troublemaker and moved on, but she took a chance on me. (ABBA alert!) She looked really great last night. Everybody did.

I’ve been missing from these pages for awhile, and from teh Twitter, and I really have to thank Billie for holding it down here, and Alex and Lee for keeping it going, too.

So, there you have it. The  very definition of TMI. Thanks for reading.

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2 Comments

  1. Hey… how did you manage to get a tie with your face on it..?
    (o.k.. I ducked… fire back…)

  2. Actually, my sister gave me that tie years ago because she said my face reminded her of the Grinch. Families, you gotta love ’em.


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