“It was terr i fy ying,” said CNN “Crossfire” host Van Jones, careful to enunciate every syllable when asked about his first night on the job.
At least at the Crossfire launch party held last night at the Carnegie Library he could finally let his hair down (so to speak) and enjoy a night with friends, colleagues, booze and a band.
His co-hosts popped in the crowd — Newt Gingrich with his big, shiny helmet of white hair, S.E. Cupp in a purple leather sleeveless dress and Stephanie Cutter in power red.
Meanwhile, others mingled: Newt’s wife, Callista held her own with her perfect, shiny, white-blond bob, former “Crossfire” host Paul Begala wished the new hosts well, as Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) and fiancé, Maria Belen Chapur, attracted flashbulbs on the red carpet while a very thin Caroline Kennedy, President Obama’s nominee for Amb. to Japan, drew stares. Others spotted around the room: WJLA’s Rebecca Cooper, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham, The Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol (who is far shorter in person than we imagined), FNC’s Greta Van Susteren and husband, John Coale, WaPo‘s Jackie Kucinich, ex-TWT Editor Sam Dealey, TWT‘s senior opinion writer Emily Miller, The Daily Caller‘s Alex Pappas, Politico‘s Dylan Byers, The Hill‘s Emily Goodin, CQ Roll Call‘s Abby Livingston, Slate‘s Dave Weigel, TIME‘s Michael Crowley, MSNBC’s Karen Finney, lefty radio host Bill Press, Speaker John Boehner‘s spokesman Michael Steel and wife, Mary Kathryn Covert, lobbyist Jack Quinn and wife, Susanna, Americans for Tax Reform Prez Grover Norquist, NRSC’s fiery Brad Dayspring, and consultant Brian Walsh.
CNNer’s spotted in the crowd: CNN President Jeff Zucker, Washington Bureau Chief Sam Feist, Jessica Yellin, Dana Bash, Brianna Keilar, Wolf Blitzer, Gloria Borger, Candy Crowley (without a shred of makeup), Wendell Goler, Matt Dornic, and Edie Emery.
Asked about Cupp, his conservative co-host, Jones said, “S.E. is the most likeable person ever born. I think they created her in a lab. She hypnotizes you and then she goes in for the kill.”
Cupp also had a thing or two to say about Jones.
“I heard early rumors from colleagues that Van was lovely, thoughtful and charming,” Cupp told FishbowlDC. “All true. He’s eager to learn, incredibly open-minded, engaging and kind. He’s a rare talent who can think deeply beyond talking points but also deliver a super punchy one-liner. Obviously we disagree on just about everything, but I couldn’t be more excited to work with him.”
Asked about the potential success of the new program, an obviously biased Feist sung its praises. “Crossfire is the right show for CNN and the country right now,” he said. Without using the actual names of networks, he explained with fresh and minty breath (no small thing at parties like this) that ‘Fox News’ is too right-wing and therefore not believable and ‘MSNBC’ is too lefty and therefore not believable. “CNN has a the public’s trust and [viewers can] believe that it’s a good fight.”
When pressed on which pair of hosts he prefers, he refused to choose no matter how many different ways we asked. “I love them all,” he said, noting that the hosts have such diverse views that any pairing would work.
Jones, though friendly and approachable, clung to a few close friends in a corner. Asked about the glare of the spotlight he now experiences, he employed a familiar Washington This Town sentiment. He said, “the only thing worse than being in the spotlight is not being in the spotlight.”
Photographs courtesy of CNN.