- The Washington Times - Monday, August 6, 2001

With the buzz gone from the Condit-Levy affair — temporarily anyway — what better substitute than a party about the nature of buzz itself?
Thursday's gathering at the home of journalist Karen DeWitt celebrated publication of her friend Judy Bachrach's take on that British-born New York media couple of renown, Tina Brown and Harry Evans ("Tina and Harry Come to America," by the Free Press) whom Ms. Bachrach, now of Vanity Fair magazine, says, regretfully, made buzz their byword.
The couple's seeming addiction to celebrities and stardom — as evidenced especially by Miss Brown's past editorship of Vanity Fair — led, in the author's opinion, to the corruption of the whole of American journalism. (Ms. Bachrach, a Columbia School of Journalism graduate formerly on the staff of both the Washington Star and The Washington Post, can speak freely, having joined Vanity Fair only after Miss Brown's reign.)
These potshots made by an enterprising Washingtonian surveying New York's publishing scene have been viewed as fighting words. To date, they have earned her several slams from New York reviewers and threatening letters from her subjects' lawyers.
The author smiled broadly while reminding the crowd of the irony that it was Mr. Evans, a First Amendment advocate, who made his name long ago by daring to defy England's notoriously strict legal bans on libel in order to get important information into print.
A considerable number of Washington's journalistic fraternity and sorority were present, lured on, in part, by a double-whammy invite. Ms. DeWitt, currently a free-lance producer-writer doing a book on the Russian mafia, shared host duties with Frances Hardin, who heads the local alumni chapter of the Columbia School of Journalism. Ms. Hardin had persuaded the school to send out notices about the event to all 675 or so CSJ graduates in the Greater Washington area. Fortunately for the hosts' sake, only a reasonable number of them showed up.
CSJ alumnus and author Larry Leamer came, taking a breather before the fall debut of his Kennedy book, a look at males in the Kennedy clan ("I was on Geraldo today, sort of warming up."); Jim Myers pondered how he might write about the wheelchair mafia in his Southeast D.C. neighborhood ("One has a gun hidden in his seat."); political consultant Frank Mankiewicz pushed his wife's (Patricia O'Brien) next tome ("It's about the Civil War.").
"This crowd isn't used to buying books: They usually get free copies," observed a bemused Mr. Leamer, holding a copy of "Tina and Harry" he bought from Politics & Prose Bookstore personnel stationed prominently at the entrance.
Murray Gart, Mickey Kraus, Norman Ornstein, Richard Merryman and Gwen Ifill were among other well-wishers offering support to journalism's latest critic. "I feel like Gary Condit minus the sex," Ms. Bachrach had joked earlier that day. "If I write about someone else, they will have to be dead.
"In New York they say 'how did you dare to write this? ' There is still considerable fear of [Miss Brown there]. In Washington they say, 'It's time, and you got it.'"

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