Wish You Were Here

On Thursday evening, April 21 in Washington DC, at the posh JW Marriott two blocks from the White House, the Media Research Center (the excellent media watchdog organization run by Brent Bozell) held its annual awards dinner and gala called the 'Dishonors Awards,' poking fun at a long list of examples of liberal media bias and distorted reporting during the past year. In addition to being just so outrageously fun, several things about the event were noteworthy:

The first thing my wife and I noticed was the wide range of ages attending the event. The usual liberal outsider's clichéd view of 'conservatives' is that we're all paunchy, graying or balding middle—aged men. Not this crowd. The over 900—strong turnout (oversold onto a waiting list from what I heard, and not exactly a cheap ticket, either) was an amazing mix of ages, from young—20's professionals to well past retirement age. Several groups of young women were also among the attendees, further belying the mainstream notion that Conservative = Middle—aged male.

It was a first—rate affair, run with flair and class. During the cocktail hour it was an open bar, not a cash bar, yet there was absolutely no evidence of anyone taking advantage and loading up. This was a dignified and respectful crowd, obviously there to enjoy themselves, but fully aware of proper public decorum and appropriate behavior. How refreshing. (And conservative.)

The evening's celebrity Presenters and Attendees mixed freely with the group during the pre—dinner reception hour, without a shred of pretence or artificially—inflated self—importance. Master of Ceremonies Cal Thomas walked around the room, chatting with people as casually as could be. Ann Coulter (who does indeed have bona fide rock—star appeal) stood before a continually—rotating group of people exchanging greetings and throwing her trademark barbs at her liberal nemeses.  Bill Sammon of The Washington Times and I spent a few moments together thankfully noting how the existence of Fox News has helped to open up the previously private—club liberals—only environment of broadcast news. When he had to leave our conversation he held out his hand to me and said, 'I enjoyed speaking with you.' There was no reason to doubt his sincerity.

When the reception hour was over, we all made our way to the grand ballroom for the main event. The room was nicely laid out, with the presenting dais centered along the room's long dimension so as to assure the shortest possible sightlines for the audience seated at the dinner tables. Two large closed—circuit projection screens flanked each side of the podium, so every seat had an unrestricted view of the proceedings. Well planned, and correctly executed.

Before the presentations began, the group stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. It was both amusing and significant that the assemblage put special emphasis on the words '...under God...' without any prior communication amongst each other. It was as if we all knew how each other felt, as if we all had an unspoken connection to each other on some meaningful, important level.

And of course, we did. This was a gathering of people with a shared common interest, with shared common values. There was an amazing familiarity and acceptance that we had with people we had never met before. Everyone felt immediately comfortable and at home, among friends. It was clearly well beyond the feeling that one has at a sporting event or a concert when the common unifying thread is merely a sports team or a musical ensemble. The unifying thread here was far more significant: family values, unambiguous patriotism, a professional work ethic, and a total lack of tolerance for meaningless, irrelevant political correctness.

We met dozens of fascinating people: There was a delightful couple in their 80's; the husband was a former teacher and life—long Boy Scout leader; his wife a retired emergency—room nurse. There was a retired widowed woman in her 60's, a former Buyer for the Navy, who has driven down for the MRC dinner every year for the past five years. At our dinner table there were eight other people ranging in age from 20's to 60's, all of them professional, committed, interesting, and engaging.

Obviously, rubbing elbows with the likes of Cal Thomas, Zell Miller and John O'Neil was immensely gratifying and hugely entertaining. The Awards themselves were absolutely hilarious, and knowing each 'award' situation as well as we did made it feel as if we were privileged members of the inner circle of some huge inside joke. But as enjoyable as the formal affair itself was, we came away from the MRC Awards even more impressed with the 'regular' people we met. They are the true stars of this country.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.

On Thursday evening, April 21 in Washington DC, at the posh JW Marriott two blocks from the White House, the Media Research Center (the excellent media watchdog organization run by Brent Bozell) held its annual awards dinner and gala called the 'Dishonors Awards,' poking fun at a long list of examples of liberal media bias and distorted reporting during the past year. In addition to being just so outrageously fun, several things about the event were noteworthy:

The first thing my wife and I noticed was the wide range of ages attending the event. The usual liberal outsider's clichéd view of 'conservatives' is that we're all paunchy, graying or balding middle—aged men. Not this crowd. The over 900—strong turnout (oversold onto a waiting list from what I heard, and not exactly a cheap ticket, either) was an amazing mix of ages, from young—20's professionals to well past retirement age. Several groups of young women were also among the attendees, further belying the mainstream notion that Conservative = Middle—aged male.

It was a first—rate affair, run with flair and class. During the cocktail hour it was an open bar, not a cash bar, yet there was absolutely no evidence of anyone taking advantage and loading up. This was a dignified and respectful crowd, obviously there to enjoy themselves, but fully aware of proper public decorum and appropriate behavior. How refreshing. (And conservative.)

The evening's celebrity Presenters and Attendees mixed freely with the group during the pre—dinner reception hour, without a shred of pretence or artificially—inflated self—importance. Master of Ceremonies Cal Thomas walked around the room, chatting with people as casually as could be. Ann Coulter (who does indeed have bona fide rock—star appeal) stood before a continually—rotating group of people exchanging greetings and throwing her trademark barbs at her liberal nemeses.  Bill Sammon of The Washington Times and I spent a few moments together thankfully noting how the existence of Fox News has helped to open up the previously private—club liberals—only environment of broadcast news. When he had to leave our conversation he held out his hand to me and said, 'I enjoyed speaking with you.' There was no reason to doubt his sincerity.

When the reception hour was over, we all made our way to the grand ballroom for the main event. The room was nicely laid out, with the presenting dais centered along the room's long dimension so as to assure the shortest possible sightlines for the audience seated at the dinner tables. Two large closed—circuit projection screens flanked each side of the podium, so every seat had an unrestricted view of the proceedings. Well planned, and correctly executed.

Before the presentations began, the group stood up and said the Pledge of Allegiance. It was both amusing and significant that the assemblage put special emphasis on the words '...under God...' without any prior communication amongst each other. It was as if we all knew how each other felt, as if we all had an unspoken connection to each other on some meaningful, important level.

And of course, we did. This was a gathering of people with a shared common interest, with shared common values. There was an amazing familiarity and acceptance that we had with people we had never met before. Everyone felt immediately comfortable and at home, among friends. It was clearly well beyond the feeling that one has at a sporting event or a concert when the common unifying thread is merely a sports team or a musical ensemble. The unifying thread here was far more significant: family values, unambiguous patriotism, a professional work ethic, and a total lack of tolerance for meaningless, irrelevant political correctness.

We met dozens of fascinating people: There was a delightful couple in their 80's; the husband was a former teacher and life—long Boy Scout leader; his wife a retired emergency—room nurse. There was a retired widowed woman in her 60's, a former Buyer for the Navy, who has driven down for the MRC dinner every year for the past five years. At our dinner table there were eight other people ranging in age from 20's to 60's, all of them professional, committed, interesting, and engaging.

Obviously, rubbing elbows with the likes of Cal Thomas, Zell Miller and John O'Neil was immensely gratifying and hugely entertaining. The Awards themselves were absolutely hilarious, and knowing each 'award' situation as well as we did made it feel as if we were privileged members of the inner circle of some huge inside joke. But as enjoyable as the formal affair itself was, we came away from the MRC Awards even more impressed with the 'regular' people we met. They are the true stars of this country.

Steve Feinstein is a frequent contributor.