Garlic-Scented Freelance Journo No Fan of Texting at Networking Soireés

A networking event to mark a business partnership between two fiercely ideological magazines isn’t exactly a wild time. But it’s part of the job for some media professionals in D.C.

Even so, freelance journalist Murray Waas, in the dimly-lit setting shown here, believes that if you’re attending such an event, you shouldn’t be on your phone.

“What is the point of going out when you’re texting?” Waas said to National Review reporter Andrew Stiles Thursday night. Apparently unsure what to make of the unsolicited social commentary, Stiles awkwardly replied, “I don’t know. To look like you have something to do.”

Waas floated around the party, hosted by The Nation and National Review at the Mayflower Renaissance hotel, butting into conversations, preferring to talk directly into people’s ears despite being audible at a normal conversational distance.

The writer made a name for himself during the Bush (43) years, reporting on the White House and, in the early 1990s, reporting on the Gulf  War. He was even nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1993. Howard Kurtz, then a media critic for the Washington Post, wrote in 2006 that Waas was “getting his day in the sun.” Nowadays Waas updates his personal blog and freelances. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, The Hill, The Boston Globe, Talking Points Memo, The Atlantic and Reuters, among others.

He’s been featured in a lengthy 2007 WCP piece by Erik Wemple and Jason Cherkis (in the least flattering way) and in a rebuttal by Matthew Yglesias at ThinkProgress (the most flattering way).

“He was one of the biggest creeps I’ve ever talked to, saying things like ‘I’m your friend, right? We’ve been talking for five minutes, [and] I’m your best friend here?'” one attendee at Thursday’s gathering remarked to FishbowlDC. “And he smelled like garlic and booze.”


About 100 people showed up for the event, all wearing name tags. Among them was National Review‘s star Capitol Hill Editor Robert Costa.

In the conservative media’s ongoing push to become more credible as legitimate news sources, Costa is often cited as the example of what a real reporter is: Someone who’s openly conservative but rather than spouting his opinions all day, he makes calls, works the Hill and writes what’s actually happening.

Asked about being the standard bearer for conservative journalism, Costa shifted the focus back to conservative media as a whole. “Conservatives need to do a  better job of reporting,” he said. “On the right, it’s a necessary development. I think it’s positive.”

Of the recent blunders conservative media outlets have made, such as reports in The Daily Caller and Breitbart News, Costa said it’s part of the maturing process of new media. “People are striving to be more objective and fact-based, which is the only way to go,” he said.

The event, catered with beer, wine and liquor, along with a a finger food spread, marked a business deal between The Nation, liberal, and National Review, conservative. Both publications ran into difficulties attracting advertisers, The Nation‘s Veep of Advertising Ellen Bollinger explained to FBDC.

Advertisers understood that the audiences of both magazines were highly educated and upper income, but didn’t want to be seen as picking one ideology over the other. So both publications entered an ad-sharing partnership as a way to entice potential ad buyers wary of being seen as sitting on one side of the political spectrum.

Notables: National Review‘s Betsy Woodruff and Executive Publisher Scott Budd; Kazakhstan Embassy Counselor Nurgali Arystanov; and Breitbart News‘s Elizabeth Sheldon.

Quotable: “Maybe we will evolve to have smaller thumbs…”– Murray Waas, regarding people who text message others while at networking events.