It was always called the McLaughlin Brunch, and for almost two decades it was THE stop for the Sunday morning after the Saturday night White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. It was the A-list wrap-up to the weekend of media parties, rivaled by none, and it filled the rooftop of the Hay-Adams with famous faces and names. McLaughlin, political pundit and host of the syndicated McLaughlin Group broadcast, was the center of attention. Then a rival came along several years ago, a competing brunch hosted by Politico owner Robert Allbritton, held in his Georgetown mansion and with a “no press allowed” policy. Some would tell you it knocked out McLaughlin’s brunch with one punch. Now, it appears McLaughlin is out of the game altogether.
The invitation to this year’s Sunday brunch at the Hay-Adams says the event is hosted jointly by Thomson Reuters and Yahoo! News, which last year were McLaughlin’s cohosts. His name is nowhere on the invitation. A spokesperson for Thomson Reuters and Yahoo! said, “Yes this is what was formerly the McLaughlin Brunch, and he is not involved for 2013.”
The organizer of the annual party, Janet Donovan, was practically without an explanation. “I have had tons and tons of people asking me the same. It will be the first time in, yes, about 20 years that I have not done that with him. I will call him today, hoping he is well,” Donovan wrote in an e-mail. “I loved that event with him probably more than anything.” She confirmed the party will go on this year, but without McLaughlin. In his place, the featured attraction are area cheftestants from Bravo’s hit Top Chef: Spike Mendelsohn, Mike Isabella, Bart Vandaele, and Bryan Voltaggio.
While McLaughlin will be missed, if the Hay-Adams can regain the buzz from Politico, we’ll have a good brunch war going on for the WHCA’s 100th anniversary next year.