Fox News set the bar for RTCA after-parties with its disco extravaganza in 2004, and this year, MSNBC will try to top it with Rachel Maddow, who will be mixing cocktails behind the bar. If that’s not enough, there will also be a chocolate fountain.
More than 400 guests are expected to cross the street from the Convention Center when the dinner ends to an MSNBC logo-swathed Washington Historical Society, at 801 K Street.
Maddow won’t be at the dinner; she’ll head to the party after doing her show; her “special cocktail” is being kept a tightly guarded secret. But an insider reveals the rest of the menu will include mini-milkshakes, ice cream bar, the chocolate fountain and breakfast, for those who stay to the bitter end. And a Starbucks Coffee Bar, in honor of the new “Morning Joe” sponsor. There won’t be a band, just a DJ.
MSNBC muscled in on the party after Fox News backed out. MSNBC was initially told Fox had locked up the Historical Society, the only party venue around in that part of town, and “It was this space or nothing,” said an insider. No official word on why Fox may have changed its mind but someone in the know said it was due to the ever-changing dinner date, from April 2 to June 4 to June 19, a Friday-and Father’s Day weekend, no less. (Many on-air talent types at all the networks are begging off this year because of the timing.)
NBC is going all-out with dinner tables, too, purchasing 13, which will seat administration guests including Attorney General Eric Holder; David Axelrod and Valerie Jarrett, senior advisers to President Obama; White House economic adviser Larry Summers; Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. Congressional guests include Sen. Susan Collins, R.-Maine, and Rep. David Obey, D.-Wisc.
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NBC’s lengthy list of on-air talent attending includes: Chris Matthews, Pete Williams, Andrea Mitchell, Chuck Todd, Tom Costello, Savannah Guthrie, Jim Miklaszewski, Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, John Harwood, David Schuster, Carlos Watson, Tamron Hall, Contessa Brewer, Monica Novotny, Alex Witt, Ed Schultz, Norah O’Donnell, Dylan Ratigan, Willie Geist, Kelly O’Donnell and Luke Russert, as well as a number of commentators and analysts (Lawrence O’Donnell, Ana Marie Cox, Michelle Bernard, Eugene Robinson and Richard Wolffe.)
Execs include NBC News President Steve Capus, MSNBC President Phil Griffin, SVP and Washington bureau chief Mark Whitaker, and Betsy Fischer, the longtime exec producer of “Meet the Press.”
“This is our year, this is our time. We’re the place for politics and we really wanted to make a big splash in D.C. at this dinner,” said spokesman Jeremy Gaines.