Team Party Crash: The Michael Kelly Award Dinner
Last night, Team Wonkette rubbed elbows with the D.C. media elite, at the third annual presentation of the Michael Kelly Award:
The $25,000 award is given annually to a journalist whose work exemplifies a quality that animated Michael Kelly's own career: the fearless pursuit and expression of truth. Kelly, who was the editor of two Atlantic Media publications, The Atlantic Monthly and National Journal, was killed while covering the war in Iraq in 2003.
It was a delightful evening, definitely one of the better parties that we've
crashed attended lately. As media junkies, our heads were left spinning from all the star-spotting: Peggy Noonan! Adam Nagourney! Howard Fineman! Gwen Ifill! Matt Cooper! (But where was FROOMKIN???)
After the jump, additional commentary on the evening -- plus fabulous photos, by Liz Gorman. Enjoy!
Here's our report card on the evening:
Venue: Good. The event was held at the offices of Atlantic Media (which were redecorated elegantly for the occasion). At the Watergate! We felt like we were stepping into the pages of history -- and scandal. No sign of poker tables or hookers, though.
Visible through a glass wall: the Hotline Office. This is where the magic happens!
Starpower: Very good. As noted, there were lots of boldface names from the Washington media world. The crowd was short on politicians and actors; but since the event was really meant for the journalism world, this was understandable.
Team Wonkette seated itself at what felt like the "kids' table" at Thanksgiving. But we were eventually joined by Andrew Sullivan, Keith Kelly, Benjamin Schwarz, and Peter Beinart. Andrew Sullivan talked about walking his two dogs earlier that day.
Later in the evening, Adam Nagourney was seen eating a mini-cupcake with green frosting. No, we didn't get a picture of it. Yes, that's Gwen Ifill over his shoulder.
George Will and Tom Toles make up a mean rhythm section.
Food: Good. Tasty hors d'oeuvres, including a mountain of sushi and peking duck crepes. The reception -- open bar, natch -- was followed by a light, sit-down dinner. Three cheers for hummus!
No, he just LOOKS like Ted Koppel.
Andrew Sullivan and James Bennet, the new editor of The Atlantic.
Leon Wieseltier: "Sorry, Matt, you're not funny."
"The sushi bar is thataway."
After dinner, we headed to an upstairs reception room for coffee, dessert, and the awards ceremony. Dessert included chocolate truffles, delicious mini-sundaes, and little cupcakes (which Adam Nagourney was spotted enjoying). You can check out the spread in this photo:
"OHMIGOD, I've been photographed next to CUPCAKES!!!"
David Bradley, chairman of Atlantic Media, opened the ceremonies with a moving tribute to Michael Kelly. He followed this with a somewhat rambling story about a fantastic ski trip he took to the Canadian Rockies, in which he and his 13-year-old son were dropped out of a helicopter to the top of a 10,000 foot peak.
Turning to the awards, he made an inside joke/dig (paraphrasing; we left the tape recorder at home): "Writers for the Atlantic are ineligible to win the Michael Kelly Award. An unlimited number can be nominated, but no one can win. It's a lot like the National Magazine Awards."
Leon Wieseltier delivered a tribute to Michael Kelly, in the form of ruminations on the state of journalism today. Pretty cool remarks. Unfortunately, in our inebriated state, we only managed to jot down some well-turned phrases and aphorisms: "cult of facticity"; "the wild universe of assertion known as the blogosphere"; "obsession is a radical form of seriousness"; "the incivility of the blogosphere is also a virtue"; "the difference between information and knowledge is time, but the internet has no time"; and "the blogosphere is built upon the authority of subjectivity, which is a dubious authority." You can say that again!
"I don't have a speech prepared. I thought Lauren Bacall would get it."
Finally, Charlie Green, editor of the National Journal, took the podium to present the awards. By now you're all dying to know: So who won? Here were the nominees:
* Kurt Eichenwald, The New York Times
* Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times
* James Risen & Eric Lichtblau, The New York Times
* Chris Rose, The Times-Picayune
* Cam Simpson, Chicago Tribune
The winner: Sharon LaFraniere, who seemed both surprised and deeply moved as she accepted the award (for her coverage of the plight of women in southern Africa). Congratulations, Sharon!
After the party broke up, we went out for more drinking. So if you've been wondering why we've been having a slow day around here -- well, now you know.
LAFRANIERE WINNER OF $25,000 MICHAEL KELLY AWARD for 2006 [The Michael Kelly Award]
Press Award [NYP]