Washington Babylon — May 8, 2009, 8:17 am

The League of Extraordinary Egos: Meet the Washington media

Washington is a town of self-indulgence, huge egos, and self-congratulation. A yearly ritual at which such traits are most grandly on display is nearly upon us. Tomorrow night is the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner. There is even a website about the dinner, where you can count down the seconds until the exciting event begins.

And who gets in to the dinner? According to the website:

What news organizations are eligible to get a table and how do they pick their guests? News organizations that employ members of the White House Correspondents’ Association can rest assured that they will get tables (approximately $2,000 a pop in recent years) for the big night…If you are not a White House reporter, top editor, or bureau chief then you have to be invited by a news organization, and scoring tickets is about as easy as getting a subprime loan approved right now. Even the most well-connected can have a hard time, and the 2009 bash may prove to be the most exclusive one of all. The President is the guest of honor, and the demand to see the first rock star president in modern history has made the annual scramble harrowing.

All dressed up with no ticket? No problem, just throw on that tuxedo or formal gown and head over to the Hilton anyway. But don’t think you’re going to sneak into the dinner, not with the airtight security that everyone is forced to go through. In the last ten years, a full red carpet parade has developed, with Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and other entertainment shows lined up to talk to celebrities as they enter the hotel. Last year was a classic as Pamela Anderson followed Colin Powell down the line…[But after] parties are thrown at different places, usually within walking distance of the Hilton.

So, opportunity abounds. After all, in Washington, where there’s a will to get up close to the powerful, there’s almost always a way.

Here are some of the guests this year:

CNN: Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Val Kilmer, Kyra Sedgwick, Brad Cooper, Tyra Banks, Janet Napolitano.

ABC News: David and Susan Axelrod; Rahm Emanuel, White House Chief of Staff; Peter Orszag, Director, Office of Management and Budget; Valerie Jarrett, senior presidential advisor; Jackie Norris, First Lady’s Chief of Staff; Leon Panetta, CIA Director; Susan Rice, UN Ambassador; Justice Antonin Scalia; Meghan McCain; Jon and Dorothea Bon Jovi; Kate Walsh; Taye Diggs and Idina Menzel.

USA TODAY: Tim Daly, Justin Long, Richard Belzer, Deputy White House Chief of Staff Mona Sutphen, Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, Michelle Obama staffer Jocelyn Frye

Newsweek: Lally Weymouth, Donald Graham and Jon Meacham, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Attorney General Eric Holder. R. Todd Bradley, Executive Vice President, Personal Systems Group, Hewlett Packard; David Brennan, CEO, AstraZeneca; Representative Eric and Diana Cantor (R-VA).

And the Houston Chronicle has invited none other than Alberto Gonzales.

Single Page

More from Ken Silverstein:

From the November 2013 issue

Dirty South

The foul legacy of Louisiana oil

Perspective October 23, 2013, 8:00 am

On Brining and Dining

How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy

Postcard October 16, 2013, 8:00 am

The Most Cajun Place on Earth

A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits 

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada



September 2014

Israel and Palestine

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Washington Is Burning

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On Free Will

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

They Were Awake

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content


Arab artists take up — and look past — regional politics
“When everyday life regularly throws up images of terror and drama and the technological sublime, how can a photographer compete?”
“Qalandia 2087, 2009,” by Wafa Hourani
“There was torture by the previous regime and by the current Iraqi regime,” Dr. Amin said. “Torture by our Kurdish government, torture by Syrians, torture by the U.S.”
Visiting His Own Grave © Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
The Tale of the Tape·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Heroin isn’t the weakness Art Pepper submits to; it’s the passion he revels in.”
Photograph (detail) © Laurie Pepper
The Soft-Kill Solution·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

"Policymakers, recognizing the growing influence of civil disobedience and riots on the direction of the nation, had already begun turning to science for a response."
Illustration by Richard Mia
New Books
New Books·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Almond insists that watching football does more than feed an appetite for violence. It’s a kind of modern-day human sacrifice, and it makes us more likely to go to war.”
Photograph by Harold Edgerton

Chance that a movie script copyrighted in the U.S. before 1925 was written by a woman:

1 in 2

Engineers funded by the United States military were working on electrical brain implants that will enable the creation of remote-controlled sharks.

Malaysian police were seeking fifteen people who appeared in an online video of the Malaysia-International Nude Sports Games 2014 Extravaganza, and Spanish police fined six Swiss tourists conducting an orgy in the back of a moving van for not wearing their seatbelts.

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!


In Praise of Idleness


I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today