When we read Howard Kurtz’s column today about how some Washington power players are occasionally forced to sit down to dinner with — and be harangued by — the likes of Maureen Dowd, David Gregory, George Stephanopoulos, Todd Purdum, and Andrew Sullivan, we thought to ourselves, “well, torture’s finally come home to roost.” But then we read that these dinners, put together by Atlantic owner David Bradley, are apparently enjoyable to everyone involved, including the journalists and their guests, including Rahm Emanuel, Tim Geithner, Ben Bernanke, General David Petraeus, Karl Rove, Larry Summers, David Plouffe, and British prime minister Gordon Brown.
Kurtz calls these fancy, off-the-record confabs “The Media Elite’s Secret Dinners,” and describes how they feature white-jacketed waiters and “salmon and risotto.” The idea seems to be to show the cozy, indulgent relationship that powerful reporters have with powerful politicians, but the awkwardness that arises during the meals seems to belie that comfortable image. Take this interaction between the journos and King Abdullah of Jordan and his wife, Queen Rania:
When the group challenged King Abdullah over his comments on U.S. responsibilities for stability in Iraq, Queen Rania interjected: “We didn’t ask you to invade.” One reporter asked the king whether he agreed with that statement. “What she said,” his majesty replied.
Well, apparently the dinners aren’t so off-the-record. Anyway, if they regularly involve these journo-wonks getting schooled by gorgeous women, it doesn’t seem like they can be all that sinister.