Blogger of the Year… But first… Lunch at Harry & Tina’s
: So I had lunch at Harry Evans’ and Tina Brown’s home today… with about a hundred others.
I was at the kiddie table — that is, the bloggers’ table. But I was glad to be there. As someone at that table said, who wouldn’t walk through glass for lunch at Harry & Tina’s?
We were there for the presentation of The Week magazine‘s first annual Opinion Awards — including, significantly, an award for Blogger of the Year. More on that in a moment. But first — priorities! — we’re talking about lunch at Harry & Tina’s!
: Yes, it’s like a matinee of Tony & Tina’s. It’s a performance and you’re trying to figure out who acting and who’s not.
We come to the front door out of a day colder than a Timesman’s heart and we’re given little envelopes with our table assignments — 11, bad sign — and directed to a ground-floor door with the admonition that the furniture has all been moved (so we won’t be getting the real experience). It’s still obviously a lovely home with pictures everywhere — an original Sorel here, a fine old news print there — and books filling remaining space (with reporters desperately scanning the spines, hunting the elusive color).
In a small parlor, we become more and more crammed. Abe Rosenthal totters about. Mario Cuomo holds court. (I got in his way in the hall and said, “Excuse me, governor.” Felt odd to say, as if I’d left Tony & Tina’s and entered My Fair Lady.) Jim Hoge, the ageless Dick Clark of publishing (editor of Foreign Affairs and a former boss of mine at the Daily News) is over there. Edward Epstein, Vartan Gregorian, and other luminaries abound. The jury for the print awards included these folks plus others: Susan Cheever, Robert Caro, Henry Louis Gates Jr., Lani Guinier, Edward Rollins, Wendy Wasserstein, Steven Ratner, Walter Isaacson, Alex Jones, Lauren Hutton (Lauren Hutton?!?). And there were reporters, including Matthew Rose of the WSJ and Greg Lindsay of WWD and Keith Kelly of the NY Post. I don’t know nearly as many of the luminaries as I should because I’m a hermit, aka a blogger.
: Time for the awards. I’ll save the best (the blogger) for last.
The Week Editor Bill Falk (a very nice guy whose weekly columnettes you should read) introduces Harry, who does the honors.
: They give a Local Columnist of the Year award to Tommy Tomlinson of the Charlotte Observer, a mountainous guy (the other winners are all minimen) who gives a charming thank you: He loves his local gig but he sometimes wonders whether anybody else notices. He dreams that John Updike — he’s not sure why it’s Updike — finds himself in the Charlotte airport between flights and picks up a paper and reads his column and says, “Not bad.” This, he says, is better.
: They give an award for Single-Issue Advocate of the Year. Finalists: Michele Malkin, Joel Mowbray, William Safire, Andrew Sullivan.
And the winner is… Paul Krugman.
Harry says that in Britain they have a parliamentary opposition but here we don’t need that; we have Krugman.
Krugman says it’d be nice if we actually had a parliamentary opposition. And he adds: “I didn’t think I was an advocate. I think I’m fair and balanced.”
: Now Columnist of the Year. Finalists: David Brooks of the Times, Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune, William Kristol of the Weekly Standard.
And the winner is… Thomas Friedman.
A better award is rarely given.
Friedman doesn’t say much. He mentions starting a synagogue (“like all good Jews”) with Bill Safire. News to me (more on this here). He tells about recently asking the editor of Ha’aretz why they run his column. “You’re the only optimist we have,” the editor replies.
What mattered most to us — if I can speak for my colleagues — is that a blogger was included. That meant that all bloggers were included.
: Mickey Kaus, “a pioneer blogger who helped set the tone for the medium: sly, wry, knowing, and head of the news.”
: Gawker, “a snarky New York-centric blog that snipes at big shots in media, politics, and showbiz — has reinvigorated the stale art of gossip.”
: Volokh, “a libertarian collective that excels at analyzing legal, political, and academic trends.”
: Winds of Change, “always thoughtful, thorough, and full of links to things you’d probably never see on your own.”
: And the winner for Blogger of the year is… Joshua Micah Marshall, author of TalkingPointsMemo.
I liked Josh and all the finalists and plenty more. What swayed me on Josh is that he not only pundits but he reports. In fact, he came to this do on his way to his blogosphere-supported reporting trip to New Hampshire.
Josh accepted the award and said, “I’d like to thank you not so much for choosing me but for choosing bloggers.”
Amen, blogging brother.
I’ll reprint the writeup on Josh below, under the “more” link.
: So then we ate: a nice something of mushrooms and chicken over damned rich polenta and a nice chocolate thing (Jackie’s going to fire me as a food critic) and cookies with The Week printed on them (who knew that ink tasted so good?). Choire Sicha of Gawker was desperately trying to find something to write about for The Observer. When accused of underblogging, Elizabeth Spiers protested that she’s on vacation (she’s also tracking down big financial stories for the new New York Magazine).
And Tina Brown was gracious if just a wee bit tense and nervous whenever she passed by this gaggle of bloggers, for we’ve all snarked at her expense. Well, you could say, live by the snark, die by the snark. But it was quite cool that she and Harry threw this do and we’re not even mad that they didn’t give us a single thing to snark about.
: Afterwards, I got to meet the one luminary I most wanted to meet: Friedman. Nothing better to say than, in the fine tradition of Stuttering John, “big fan, big fan.” To my utter delight, Friedman knew this very URL and, no surprise, he knows blogs. I then asked the obvious: Are you going to blog? He said he’d been asked whether he wanted to (note that blog/Times watchers) but in his line of work, he somewhat fears the immediacy of it. He’s supposed to think for three days, and sometimes, he said, that’s not enough. Oh, I get that. But still, I’d kill to see just links to what he’s reading: Tom Friedman’s Quick Links.
From left: Tomlinson, Krugman, Evans, Falk, Friedman, Marshall
Here’s the write-up on Blogger of the Year:
Joshua Micah Marshall, author of TalkingPointsMemo.com, represents the best of the Internet