The Golden Globes and Oscars weren't the only awards events this year where words from the podium prompted awkward groans. Add to that Tuesday night's National Press Foundation Dinner where two reporters stepped into the touchy arena of mocking the bosses and some of the city's biggest political and journalistic stars.
For the Wall Street Journal's Brody Mullins and Washington Post's T.W. Farnam it was a fun chance to lighten up the annual awards event but to some of those in the audience, as well as some of the targets, the jokes fell flat.
The duo, who won for their coverage at the Journal of congressional travel (Farnam has since gone to the Post), did a tag-team acceptance speech that reviewed what's happened in Washington since Mullins won the award four years ago. Along the way they dinged District Mayor Vincent Gray, Politico reporter Mike Allen, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa, their own editors and even their Everett McKinley Dirksen Awards for Distinguished Reporting of Congress.
Consider one joke at the expense of Washington Post top editor Marcus Brauchli, formerly with the Journal. "Just four years ago, Marcus Brauchli was overseeing the decline of one of the most prestigious newspapers in America, and now, just four years later, Marcus Brauchli is overseeing the decline of one of the most prestigious newspapers in the country," Mullins said.
Later, they singled out the two journalists at the Journal who helped bring their stories to light. Mullins went first: "These two great leaders immediately saw the importance of our work, the value to the national debate and they deftly and fearlessly steered these award-winning stories on to page A-3." As the audience laughed with a bit of embarrassment, Farnam added: "I'd also like to thank all my colleagues in the Journal's Washington bureau for their support. Without their guidance, counsel and wisdom on these stories and many others, I might not have been able to get a job at the Washington Post."
They ended with a jab at their own award. Farnam spoke first. "To win this award Brody and I investigated how members of Congress travel overseas. What we found would shock you. On taxpayer-funded trips, lawmakers were eating fancy meals and drinking fine wine, rubbing shoulders with influential leaders and dignitaries at exclusive events and receiving all sorts of other gifts and a cash stipend available to them only because they held public office." Mullins wrapped up the shtick: "So to recognize this award tonight, while eating a fancy meal and drinking fine wine for free, rubbing shoulders with influential leaders and dignitaries at this exclusive event, wearing fancy tuxedos paid for with our expense account, and walking away with free gifts and cash, seems a fitting award for a job well done."
Watch the C-SPAN video here.