Ms. Megan Smith Goes to Washington

Mikey Dickerson,Megan Smith, Hilary Rosen, Tammy Haddad, Kara Swisher, Lucky Carney

Mikey Dickerson,Megan Smith, Hilary Rosen, Tammy Haddad, Kara Swisher, Lucky Carney

Vicki Kennedy, Rita Braver, Bob Barnett, Jeremy Bash

Vicki Kennedy, Rita Braver, Bob Barnett, Jeremy Bash

One of Google’s top thinkers, Megan Smith, joined the White House as Chief Technology Officer and Saturday night Washington rolled out the Design Cuisine treats for a proper welcome for Ms. Smith.
Hilary Rosen, Hunter and Kathleen Biden, Kara Swisher, Tammy Haddad and Edie and Walt Mossberg introduced Ms.Smith to some of Washington’s top influentials and media.

See the slide show to the left of this post for more photos.

When Scandal and White House Correspondents' Presidents Collide at The 20th Annual Garden Brunch


President Fitzgerald Grant (better known as Tony Goldwyn) met White House Correspondents Association President Ed Henry today at The 20th Annual Garden Brunch. The ‘legendary’ meeting that crossed two universes went out earlier through a livestream that culminated (at the 2:37 mark) with remarks from co-hosts honoring the White House Correspondents’ Association, CURE Epilepsy and The Miss America Foundation. Taking place at the historic Beall-Washington House, where else would you expect the perfect blend of Washington media, Hollywood and tech influences like Uber’s Travis Kalanick, Revolution’s Steve Case or even a gold medalist like Gabby Douglas?

Attendees rounded through R Street into the horseshoe to be greeted with CURE iPhone covers and #STEM branded protractors to give a hint at why Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathmatics are being so vetted by the Miss America Foundation to strengthen education for young women. And it’s true, the Garden Brunch is full of “Things Beltway People Like.”


At the brunch alone you could find Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery posing with “Homeland”‘s Morena Baccarin or Kevin Spacey shaking hands with Navid Negahban and MC Hammer.Then there were the entire cast of Netflix’s “House of Cards” while Gerard Butler of “Olympus Has Fallen” came to lift the spirits of the brunch patrons.

Greta Van Susteren and husband John Coale, whose announcement that she would not attend the WHCA dinner made headlines, was dragged over to the red carpet by Kevin Spacey. For those around it felt like a House of Cards moment when he commanded Greta to “Stand next to me.”

There were even appearences from White House officials like Valerie Jarrett, Gene Sperling, Alan Krueger Tina Tchen (and daughter Emma), FLOTUS chief of staff and her Communications Director Kristina Schake and Reggie Love. House Leader Eric Cantor came to present the CURE Heroes Award to Pat and Patty Horan, an Iraqi war veteran who suffers from seisures. Senator Joe Manchin and Representative Darrell Issa mingled in the crowd with media heavies Joanna Coles, Editor of Cosmopolitian Magazine, David Carr and Jeremy Peters of the New York Times, Chris Hughes of The New Republic, Patty Rockenwagner, from Conde Nast, Alex Korson and Louis Bergholz, of Morning Joe, Toure And during the remarks given by Brunch co-hosts Tammy Haddad and Hilary Rosen, Google’s Eric Schmidt and Internet Investor and Fundamental Physics Prize Founder Yuri Milner happened to be near stage right.

Angel Investor Ron Conway led the giving with a pledge of $5,000 to each of the causes as Mayor Ed Lee and Mayor Villaraigosa talking to Steve Case and other tech leaders including Joe Green who is leading Mark Zuckerberg’s new political efforts in Washington.

Check out some of our photos in the slideshow below:

The Starts Align at WH Correspondents' Dinner Garden Brunch

Georgetown was the center of the action today as Hollywood stars Lindsay Lohan, Matthew Morrison, and Chase Crawford joined political stars Valerie Jarrett, Gov. Jerry Brown and Haley Barbour and media hot shots Willie Geist, Greta van Susteren, and Arianna Huffington to support the White Ribbon Alliance and CURE Epilepsy at the 19th annual White House Correspondents’ Garden Brunch.

Lindsay Lohan arrived with Greta van Susteren & John Coale, Kris Jenner and lawyer Shawn Chapman Holley and guests lined up to meet her and shake hands.  After listening to the speeches, Lohan wowed the young volunteers who lined up for photos.

Hosted by Tammy Haddad, Kevin Sheekey, Hilary Rosen, Clarke Camper, Mark Ein, Alex Castellanos, Anita Dunn, Bill Knapp, David Adler, Steve McMahon and Franco Nuschese, guests strolled through Ein’s home and marveled at all the star power.

Spotted in the crowd were Bob Barnett and Elle Macpherson, Kris Jenner, Kate Hudson, Kerry Washington, Tim Daly and Woody Harrelson.

Hosain Rahman from Jawbone donated super-hot Jamboxes to anyone who made a significant donation to White Ribbon Alliance or CURE.  Elle Macpherson used her supermodel moxy to quiet the crowd as she, Rosario Dawson and Willie Geist presented the Jamboxes to the lucky donors including Bret Baier, Steve Schmidt and Steve Clemons.

Also honored at the event were Steve and Jean Case for their innovation and philanthropy and Susan Axelrod for her tireless work to find a cure for epilepsy.  GOP power house Alex Castellanos moved the crowd with his speech about Lauren Axelrod’s struggle with relentless seizures.  Both Susan and David Axelrod had tears in their eyes as Alex recounted the family’s battle with their daughter’s illness.

Steve and Jean Case accepted their award from NYSE Euronext’s Clarke Camper with a beautiful reminder that everyone has the power to help people in need.

You can watch the program from the Garden Brunch tonight on C-SPAN prior to the live broadcast of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.

Axelrod-Milstein Team Up for Epilepsy Research

Glee stars surprise CURE crowd

Hundreds gathered at the Newseum Wednesday evening to recognize the scientific work of CURE Epilepsy, raise awareness, and to honor 2010 Friend of CURE Awardee, longtime television producer and WHCInsider’s own Tammy Haddad.

Susan Axelrod, Chair and founding member of Citizens United for Research in Epilepsy, was on hand to mark the special occasion. Axelrod and Connie Milstein, CURE supporter and noted philanthropist, co-hosted the event.

Connie Milstein, a CURE board member, announced the Axelrod Milstein Challenge Grant. It is a $500,000 two-year program. CURE Challenge Grants are CURE’s most prestigious, and fuel the much needed research to find the key to the cure of this dreaded disease.

“Susan works tirelessly to find a cure for epilepsy and seizure disorders. Like many families across the world, the Axelrods live with this disease every day, but their work, their strength, and their optimism give hope to so many, as they fight and live for a cure,” said Milstein.

Susan Axelrod described the lack of progress and the difficult research road ahead:  “With so many troops returning from war with traumatic brain injuries and epilepsy, the need is more urgent now.”

Axelrod, along with her husband David, was desperate to find answers when their own daughter Lauren was diagnosed with uncontrollable epilepsy at 7 months old. Twelve years ago, CURE was founded by Axelrod and two other mothers around a kitchen table. Many members of the CURE family were on hand last night and gathered on stage for a group photo and greeted with a round of applause.

The room was a living tribute to CURE and Ms. Haddad, as devoted friends from both sides of the aisle raised a glass to what many have called a “force.” Haddad used her annual White House Correspondents Weekend Brunch to raise awareness for CURE after seeing Susan and Lauren Axelrod on the cover of PARADE magazine, and later on NBC’s The Today Show.

“I chased her down for weeks to get her to host the Correspondents Brunch because I wanted to help. Here was a chance to use a HUGE platform for an important message,” said Haddad. “What did she tell us? No parent, no child, no family — no person should have to suffer and experience the pain of epilepsy.  That is her goal…and since she is unstoppable we know she will reach that goal.”

Cabinet appearances by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Dr. Howard Koh, NIH’s Story Landis and Dr. Tony Fauci.

The audience roared as a video roast of Haddad began with David Gregory anchoring a “Meet The Press” open lamenting the lack of agreement on anything in Washington except in friendship and respect for Haddad.  Also in the video: ABC’s Jake Tapper from the White House, Greta Van Susteren and John Coale.  Jon Meacham roasted the longtime network and cable news producer by reminding the audience that Christopher Buckley put her in his novel “Thank You for Smoking.”  Haddad’s former MSNBC’s colleagues, the “Morning Joe” team – Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Willie Geist, Mark Halperin and Harold Ford taking turns trying to figure out what award Haddad hadn’t won yet while praising her work for CURE.

The surprise ending was a song written and performed for Haddad by Glee superstars Matthew Morrison and Jane Lynch.

Among those there to help celebrate: Rima al Sabah, the Kuwaiti Ambassador’s wife; British Ambassador to the US Nigel and Julia Sheinwald; AFT President Randi Weingarten; Tom Oliphant, Mary Louise Oates and Robert Shrum.

Politicos aplenty including Bloomberg’s Kevin Sheekey, Joel and Lisa Benenson, Jim Margolis, Susan Sher, Stephanie Cutter, Julianna Smoot, Dan Pfieffer, Eric Lesser and Jen Psaki.

Arizona Attorney General Terry Goddard fresh from a Supreme Court appearance, along with crowd favorite Terry McAuliffe; Tony and Heather Podesta; Podesta Group CEO Kimberly Fritts and hubby, Marion Turner; Holly Page; Bruce Reed and Bonnie LePard.

Media biggies included Wolf Blitzer, Howard Fineman and Amy Nathan, Lynn Sweet, Betsy Fischer (producer of the surprise video), Andrea Mitchell, Gloria Borger, Roger Simon, Annie Groer and Hilary Rosen.

Both republican and democratic political operatives included Bob Stevenson, Jane Oates, Dan Meyers, Erica Elliot, Rich Galen and Tom Synhorst.

Designed by Jacquie Bloom, the Newseum’s Knight Center was aglow in CURE red. Guests enjoyed the pomegranate martini ice luge and the ice cream sundae bar.

CURE is in the middle of their Every Dollar Counts Every seizure Matters campaign.  To donate CLICK on

Obama Originals and Regulars Reunite at HBO Party

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“By the People,” the HBO documentary by Amy Rice and Alicia Sims, brought together top Obama campaign veterans and the press corps that followed them through the historic 2008 election for a backslapping, bear-hugging reunion at the newly renovated Motion Picture Association of America. HBO President Richard Plepler greeted top White House advisers Anita Dunn, Austan Goolsbee, Dan Pfeiffer, Sarah Feinberg, Bill Burton, Mike Blake, Dag Vega, and Washington’s newest Chicago import Susan Sher, the First Lady’s longtime friend and chief of staff.

The filmmakers’ Obama bus mates were well represented in the 80-plus crowd beginning with bestselling author Richard Wolffe, Obama “original” Juliana Goldman, Lynne Sweet, plus several campaign heavy hitters: Mike Allen, Mark Leibovitch, Jeff Zeleny, and David Jackson.

Representing the 2008 TV and pundit corps: Hilary Rosen, Jonathan Capehart, Betsy Fischer, and David Chalian.

The party went into overdrive when Reggie Love huddled with Richard Plepler; one line formed to take photos with Love and another to shake hands and schmooze with Plepler.

Washington’s elite came out to watch the HBO screening: Ben Bradlee, Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, George and Liz Stevens, and Bob Barnett. And all eyes were on Barnett and the HBO chief, as they huddled over their upcoming projects.

Obama media man Jim Margolis and White House Communications Director Anita Dunn spoke after the screening, reminding the crowd that Rice and Sims joined the campaign in 2006.  And after an inspiring speech about the campaign, Margolis told how he meticulously prepared for commercial shoots at the critical campaign moment Rice and Sims were always present, whether it was around the campaign office or stepping in a the right moment to get the shot of the candidate who made history. Dunn said the film captured the special feeling of what it was like to work on the campaign and that “there will not be another campaign that was like the Obama 2008 campaign…people felt that they were a part of something much bigger than one individual.”

Reggie Love, who was always one step in front of or behind Obama in the film, attended the screening with two BlackBerry’s in hand, greeting many of those who spent hours covering the candidate or working on the campaign.  MSNBC’s Richard Wolffe, who made several appearances in the film, cheered and laughed along with his colleagues as the audience could see through the camera lens the sometimes quiet and sometimes frantic moments of the campaign.

For many it was a chance to relive the excitement of the campaign, for others it was to catch up with Obama people who are now running the country.

“By The People” premieres November 3rd at 9:00 p.m. ET on HBO.

RTCA Evening Picked up the Pace at MSNBC's Neon After-Party

By Neil Grace and Catherine Hill

MSNBC threw a memorable Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner after-party that stood apart from parties past.  Held directly across the street from the main event at the Washington Convention Center, MSNBC turned the traditionally staid Historical Society of Washington, D.C. into a brightly-lit fete of themed cocktails, glowing neon necklaces and comfort food.

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As guests walked down the blue carpet entrance, we asked them the question of the night: are you a nerd or a jock? Politico’s Mike Allen said he was “all of the above!” and Patrick Gavin thought he was a hybrid of the two.  NBC’s Andrea Mitchell exclaimed she was a “total jock.” John “I’m a PC” Hodgman discussed the modern cultural divide at length during the dinner.

Inside the party, the scene downstairs included a Starbucks-sponsored coffee bar where guests ate ice cream sundaes and desserts.  From the main bar, guests walked outside to a large outdoor patio, where dance music had the party-goers on their feet for “Don’t Stop Believing.”  Faces and heads glowed in the light of neon necklaces and headbands.

Upstairs, special guest bartender Rachel Maddow was mixing up cocktails at her heavily-branded “Rachel Maddow’s Bar”– complete with MSNBC napkins and “Rachel’s Bar” menus.  Maddow’s signature cocktail was listed as a Hearst: a mix of gin, sweet vermouth and bitters (though she told us she actually served more of her cava drink, “Airmail” which mixed rum, fresh lime juice, honey and the bubbly cava on top).  Afterwards, Maddow relinquished her bar duties to catch up with Ana Marie Cox and John Hodgman.

Later in the night passed treats included mini-pancakes and mini-ham, bacon and cheese croissants.  As the bars began to close, guests went out back. Among the last to leave at 3:00 a.m. were MSNBC Morning Joe’s Willie Geist, Luke Russert and many of the cable network’s junior staffers.

Media heavy-hitters spotted at the party: Steve Capus, Tamron Hall, Norah O’Donnell, Contessa Brewer with Matt Ackland, Joe Scarborough with Mika Brzezinski, David Shuster, Carlos Watson, Chris Matthews, Lynn Sweet, Margaret Carlson, and Eugene Robinson.

Politicos rounded out the guest list, including Obama senior adviser David Axelrod, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Obama economic adviser Larry Summers, as well as Hilary Rosen, Alex Castellanos, Brad Dayspring, and Kevin Madden.