- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 29, 2007

“The real story of tonight is that everybody showed up,” said MSNBC producer Tammy Haddad, exiting the Week Opinion Awards at the Four Seasons Hotel Tuesday evening.

After a busy news week of the kind summarized in the New York-based magazine, which defines itself as “The Best of the U.S. and International Media,” Washington opinion makers might be expected to take the night off. Instead, media mavens and political gurus of all stripes turned out in droves for yet another bipartisan talk fest.

Walter Isaacson of the Aspen Institute led off from the dais before retired Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee offered words of welcome and praise for his profession, debunking any thought that journalism is “dying.”

“Think of a world without newspapers,” he said. Then came the presentation of awards to columnist Michael Kinsley of The Washington Post, cartoonist Chip Bok of the Akron Beacon-Journal, blogger Joshua Fruhlinger of Wonkette and the Comics Curmudgeon, and blogger Michael J. Totten of Michaeltotten.com.

Held to honor those judged to be leading voices of the year in different journalistic forums, the occasion also features a formal discussion moderated by Sir Harold Evans, the magazine’s editor at large. The topic this time was “America in the World” with panelists Tucker Carlson, Thomas Friedman, Jim Lehrer and Claire Shipman: three from television, one from print. What ensued was a civilized melee that brought forth thunderous statements from all quarters about the state of the nation at home and abroad, with audience members chiming in from the floor.

A sampling:

Mr. Lehrer: “For us to sit back and say every problem in the world is an American problem — Iraq may have changed that forever.”

Mr. Friedman: “Everything has to be focused on [China’s actions].”

Chris Matthews: “It’s our identity; it’s not working. Trying to be the biggest power in the Middle East isn’t going to solve our problem.”

Margaret Carlson, the Week’s Washington editor, interrupted at one point to ask to focus on national elections, mercifully sending the talk in a new direction.

Guests in attendance included Tony Blankley, Tina Brown, George Stephanopoulos, Catherine Crier, Leon Wieseltier, Ann Jordan, Norman Ornstein, George Stevens Jr., Buffy Cafritz, Matthew Cooper, Rep. Jane Harman, Teresa Heinz Kerry, John Fox Sullivan, and Sens. Frank Lautenberg and Sheldon Whitehouse.

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