Politico’s Ken Vogel questions David Brock. Brock speaks to the crowd.
Media Matters held a strictly invitation-only book party last night at its downtown Washington headquarters on Massachusetts Avenue. No crashers were permitted. No guests of invitees were allowed in.
“Have a good night!” The Daily Caller‘s Nick Ballasy called to me as he stood wistfully with a camera crew a healthy distance away from the building. He groused that no one worthy of interviewing had yet entered the building. (Considering the ongoing series on MMFA, no one from The Daily Caller was getting within spitting distance of the party.)
In some ways it felt like the Gap. There was a female greeter outside the door. Once inside I was led to highly organized RSVP tables where they checked me in and gave me a bright red bracelet that read, The Fox Effect. This would be the book co-written by MMFA Founder David Brock and Ari Rabin-Havt, a former aide to Sen. Harry Reid (D-Nev.). Upstairs on the sixth floor there was another greeter, this time a male employee in a dark blazer stationed outside to say hello.
Reid was among the evening’s speakers. But rumor had it that he might not be able to attend because of votes so they were still scrambling for who would be their keynote speakers. But soon enough the waif of a Senate Majority Leader wandered in with a small entourage, complete with security personnel with a clear wire in his ear. Reid is soft-spoken and quiet and doesn’t make a big splash.
So when Politico‘s Ken Vogel (who isn’t exactly shy) approached and tried to ask questions, Reid politely took Vogel’s business card and stuffed it back into Vogel’s front shirt pocket and told him he wasn’t there to do interviews. Vogel returned to a small gaggle that included HuffPost‘s Ryan Grim and MMFA Publicist Jess Levin, and regaled us with the story as well as stories of liberal haters who came after him when he covered then-Sen. Hillary Clinton‘s (D-N.Y.) ’08 campaign. Vogel’s a decent storyteller – there were death threats, Jew-hater insults and more. He said he got more hate mail from liberals than conservatives.
WaPo‘s Erik Wemple was spotted mingling in the crowd. He mentioned that he’d had lunch with FBDC lover Ryan Kearney of the illustrious TBD the day before. I told Wemple that we had been offering Kearney daily career counseling. I silently cursed MMFA for
having not having the good sense to invite Kearney so we could finally meet face to face.
Aside from hippy, frumpy, bushy-haired MMFA employees (they have good excuses for their crumpled look, they watch Fox News relentlessly around the clock) other notables in the crowd: Hollywood on the Potomac writer and publicist Janet Donovan, Bullfight Strategies’ Eric Burns (former President of Media Matters) and Karl Frisch (also formerly of MMFA). Burns by far had the best party hair – his coiffe was thick, spiky and impeccable.
The crowd was deceptively entertaining. Genius Rocket Chairman Mark Walsh was screwing around with lobbyist David Jones‘ name tag and said he was going to wear it and get intoxicated. “I’m going to get drunk and vomit,” Walsh promised. Jones, meanwhile, was busy talking up Brock. “His book, Blinded by the Right, was the most defining book in politics of the 90s,” he told me. “It showed behind the scenes attacks on President Clinton from the inside. That’s why I’m here.”
Soon enough the speeches got underway. Standing before the crowd was Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.), Reid and Brock. At one point Reid made a decently funny joke about the digitized world we’re living in and used his digits, as in his fingers. Franken laughed extra loud and looked at him with a just a hint of surprise that he could actually be funny.”Surprisingly he doesn’t talk very much,” Reid said of Franken, “but when he does, we listen.” Al’s wife, Franni Franken, was in the crowd. “No, more, More, MORE!” she said, heckling her funnyman husband.
Reid thanked Brock for his service to the Democratic Party and promised his own in return. “I thank him for all he has done for the Democratic Caucus and the Senate,” he said. “I’m going to do everything I can to make sure this book is a success.”
Though Franken cracked a number of genuinely funny jokes, Brock initially looked ill at ease. He seemed to loosen up when it was his turn to speak and he got a chance to do what he does best — skewer Fox News.
“The bottom line is this is not a news channel at all,” Brock told the crowd. “It’s like the Republican National Committee, but they do a better job in our view.” Then he fed his brand of red meat to the liberal crowd, exclaiming, “Glenn Beck no more.” The crowd cheered: “WOO HOO!” And more. Brock said the fact that FNC President Roger Ailes has said the network needs a “course correction” means “they are feeling the pressure.”
Asked if he felt Fox News would help his book sales, Brock replied, “Fox is giving us a lot of free publicity these days, I’ll say that much.” As for The Daily Caller‘s ongoing series on him and whether he felt that would also help boost his book, he had nothing to say. Nor did anyone else in the room. “I’m not commenting on that right now,” he said, as he walked in unusual diagonal zigzags away from the vicinity of my notebook.