While CNN anchors, Oscar winners, and other assorted millionaires were secluded at the residence of the Italian ambassador overlooking Rock Creek Park for the Vanity Fair party, Hill and White House staffers had their own elite rager across town at the stately National Building Museum. Relocated from the Italian embassy (where the party was held in 2013), a fully stocked bar opened onto a back patio with hand-rolled cigars, couches, and armchairs. Bravo's Top Chef contestants preparing signature dishes, the USA network provided a photo booth, and Jimmy Eat World played a set.
"We see a lot of money thrown around D.C., but not money like this. They pulled out all the stops," said an insider who works closely with NBC. "I go to 200 events a year. And this is like, whoa."
Of course, this event was held as Comcast, which owns MSNBC, Bravo, and USA, is angling to acquire Time Warner Cable in a $45 billion dollar bid, and has more than 76 lobbyists on the case. (See Mark Leibovich's point.)
The door was tight, but invitations went out to MSNBC talent like Al Sharpton, Chris Hayes, and Savannah Guthrie, as well as a number of Hill and White House staffers, including President Obama's adviser Dan Pfieffer, former NSC spokesperson Tommy Vietor, and former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau.
"These are all staffers that go out for five-dollar happy hours; they don’t get invited to stuff like this," the insider said. "The committee staffers, they advise their bosses, the harried senators and congressmen who don’t have enough time to do their own research on whether or not the merger makes sense. They are going to come in here and they are going to drink and eat, they’re going to bring their girlfriend and they’re going to get laid, and then they’ll go, 'Wow, this Comcast-Time Warner thing is not such a bad thing.'"