If you’re a political star gazer, the FNC pre-party to the Radio & TV Correspondent’s Dinner was the place to be Wednesday night as famous faces filled the room adorned in spring. As guests poured in and the party reached comfortable capacity, partygoers were greeted by a giant red Fox News emblem on the wall. If they were talent, well-known or just plain glam, photographers on hand asked them to strike a pose and then directed them across a bridge created especially for the party.
Fox News President Roger Ailes and his wife (above), Elizabeth, were one such couple directed to walk slowly across the bridge. The flashbulbs went wild.
Ailes is no wall flower. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) immediately engaged. “How are you?” Issa asked. In chimed Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), one of a few Democratic lawmakers there: “He’s fair and balanced,” Cummings said, cracking himself and those in his midst up.
Ailes also laughed. He then explained to Issa, who had begun bashing conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh, that Fox News is different. “We have a phone on the set,” he said. “Anyone can call and correct us on the set.”
Cummings said Ailes “has been really wonderful to us,” meaning the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC). “We may have a situation where we disagree about things but it doesn’t mean we can’t socialize because that’s how I think you break through,” he said. “A lot of people will talk about each other but not to each other.”
Cummings said he has known “Roger” for years. When the congressman presided over the CBC, it was FNC that worked with the CBC to sponsor the presidential debates.
Meanwhile, in walked Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) alone. The senator briefly scanned the room, spoke to no one. Soon he sidled up to conservative radio personality Laura Ingraham who was decked out in an ice blue mermaid dress, sleeveless, with ruffles cascading to the floor.
“You look great, man” Ingraham told Specter, marveling at his appearance since the senator survived his cancer scare. “You’re a fighter.” Specter chatted comfortably with Ingraham for a long while. Later Specter’s wife, Joan, joined them.
FNC’s Jennifer Griffin was also there. In a sleek auburn bob wig, she explained that she, too, was recovering from cancer. The correspondent looked radiant and charmed the room of partygoers.
Roger Ailes with Valerie Jarrett. Photo courtesy of FNC.
Find out what Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg calls his wife at parties and which journos and other V.I.P’s were there after the jump. Also, see more party pictures…
Other journos: FNC’s Chris Wallace, Bill O’Reilly, Shepard Smith, Bill Hemmer, Peter Barnes and Geraldo Rivera, Examiner’s Byron York, Roll Call’s Emily Heil, Newsweek’s Howard Fineman and Washington Life’s CEO Soroush Shahabi and Esquire’s Tom Junod. NRSC flack Brian Walsh was there as was GOP Strategist Ron Bonjean and GOP pollster Frank Luntz wearing his signature sneakers and suit ensemble. Redskin’s owner Dan Snyder showed up. Quinn & Gillespie’s Jack Quinn and wife, Susanna were enjoying the party. She spoke of purchasing her long, elegant Badgley Mischka red gown on EBAY. Quinn laughed and joked that what irks him is the credit card bill. He, too, enjoys perusing clothing on EBAY.
Wallace: “I’m having a great evening. Look at this party. These are the good old days of Fox News.”
Barnes, who covers the financial beat, opted for a unique metaphor: “I feel like I’m standing in front a broken fastball machine and I’m getting hit all the time – it’s a great time to be a journalist.”
FBN’s Liz Claman came from Manhattan for the dinner. “This is like that scene from Broadcast News,” she said. “It’s a chance to see your adversaries and look them in the eye.” For example, “OMG it’s Wolf Blitzer. And he says, OMG it’s Liz Claman.”
FNC anchor Bret Baier arrived with his tall brunette wife, Amy, having just finished his first one-on-one with President Obama. He said he rushed to the party and got dressed in his car. “It was a good give and take,” Baier said. “I’ll be honest, it was hard to pin him down on some questions.” He said Obama was as calm as ever. “He’s very calm, except when you try to interrupt him. He doesn’t enjoy that,” he said.
Former Sen. Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.) attended with wife, Jeri. Thompson, an ex-presidential hopeful, looked slimmer than usual and sported a goatee that made him nearly unrecognizable.
A random assortment of V.I.P.’s was spotted around the party. They included Obama’s senior advisor Valerie Jarrett, Pay Czar Kenneth Feinberg, former Homeland Security Sec. Tom Ridge and former Defense Sec. Donald Rumsfeld.
Feinberg introduced his wife around the party as “Czarina.”
A crew of lawmakers dotted the room. They included GOP Sen. Jim Bunning (R-Ky.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) with wife, Hadassah, as well as Reps. Michele Bachmann (Minn.), Jack Kingston (Ga.), Darrell Issa (Calif.), Pete Hoekstra (Mich.), Marcia Blackburn(R-Tenn.), Paul Ryan (Wis.), Aaron Schock and Pete King (N.Y.). The lone Dems at the party included the aforementioned Cummings. and Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) and wife, Elizabeth.
King, who appears on FNC a lot, skewered the competition. “Fox is not like MSNBC, an extension of the Democratic Party,” he said, not mentioning that FNC is often accused of being an extension of the GOP.
Former Sens. John Breaux (D-La.) and Bill Frist (R-Miss.) attended.
The Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr. had Cummings seriously cracking up laughing in a corner. It’s a rare sight to see Cummings in such hysterical laughter. Head tipped back, he was bursting at the seams.
Roger Ailes, Fox News President
Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.)walks into the party alone
Ailes with Specter and the senator’s wife, Joan
Geraldo Rivera and wife, Erica Levy
Examiner’s Byron York
Newsweek’s Howard Fineman
Former Sen. Fred Thompson
A string quartet