- The Washington Times - Sunday, September 17, 2006

The only major face missing from MSNBC’s fifth anniversary cocktail bash for Chris Matthews on the roof terrace of the Hay-Adams Hotel Thursday night was “Saturday Night Live’s” Darryl Hammond — who does one wicked impression of the bombastic silver-haired “Hardball” host.

But there were plenty of other political and media icons in the bipartisan crowd of well-wishers quaffing champagne and nibbling on crab cakes as they rubbernecked to see who else was walking through the door.

There was President Bush’s “brain,” Karen Hughes (looking toned and svelte after dropping double-digit pounds on Weight Watchers). “A lot of popcorn. A lot of melba toast,” she said. Sens. John McCain, John Warner and George Allen, fresh from a contentious day on Capitol Hill debating the question of military tribunals, Rep. Rahm Emanuel shrugging off questions about the Democrats’ plan to raise $25 million by November for the midterm elections, (“We’ll talk later”), and Rep. Jane Harman bussing friends.

Suddenly, a loud crash. “Lemme tell you,” Mr. Matthews interjected. “People are dropping glasses. It’s a nice crowd.” Sure enough, there was “Meet the Press” host Tim Russert (whose son Luke is doing a radio show with James Carville); NBC correspondent Norah O’Donnell, NewsChannel 8’s Pamela Brown (the daughter of former Miss America Phyllis George and former Kentucky Gov. John Y. Brown); NBC producer Tammy Haddad; former Clintonista Sidney Blumenthal; Ben Bradlee and Sally Quinn; and a gaggle of journos, writers and bloggers, including Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan.

“I’ve been on Chris’ show a number of times,” said Mrs. Hughes, rubbing shoulders with the guest of honor’s wife, the always stylish WJLA anchor Kathleen Matthews. “He’s a great interviewer. He’s very disarming and really draws people out.”

Mr. Warner called the interviews a “really enjoyable experience. Senators like to be challenged. I don’t know if it’s the ‘hot seat,’ but it’s a seat you don’t forget.”

— Stephanie Mansfield

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