News & Politics

Area Publication Throws Launch Party

What: A party to celebrate the debut of The Onion—and their “journalistic integrity," according to them—in Washington

Where: The Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capital Street, SE    

When: Wednesday, May 16, 6 to 8 pm

Who: Two diametrically opposed political leaders—conservative Grover Norquist, head of the anti-tax lobbying group Americans for Tax Reform, and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI), the first senator to call for a timetable for withdrawing American troops from Iraq—co-hosted the event. Usual media suspects included Dan Froomkin and Amy Argetsinger from the Washington Post, Alex Pareene and Liz Gorman of Wonkette, Sommer Mathis and Heather Goss of DCist, Patrick Gavin of the Examiner, plus several members of the Onion staff. DC city administrator Dan Tangherlini and his colleague, the newly engaged chief of budget and execution officer Will Singer, arrived just as the event was winding down.

Food: A standard table of hors d’oeuvres and cookies, plus caterers milling about offering fancier options like mini cheese paninis and artichoke fritters (the biggest hit of the night).

Drink: Open bar with wine, beer, and mixed drinks. Best of all were the pint glasses emblazoned with The Onion’s logo and “I enjoy drinking beer” that the staff gave away at the end of the night.

Scene: A reception for the launch of the Washington version of The Onion—the snarky rag also celebrated a few weeks ago with a concert and stand up comedy at the Black Cat—brought out a mix of hipster journalists and stodgier media types. Attendees marveled that the event brought out both Norquist and Feingold. “I kind of invited them both as a joke and they said they were big fans and agreed to do it,” shrugged Onion managing editor Peter Koechley.

Norquist and Feingold both gave brief, not-terribly-unfunny speeches, with Feingold telling an Onion-style story about congressman hazing rituals on Capitol Hill. A few folks, like Froomkin, from the Washington Post, which has partnered with The Onion to print and distribute it in DC, also showed up. But overall, given the reputation of The Onion and those who write for it, it was a surprisingly staid affair that ended promptly at 8. We heard a few Onion staffers planning an afterparty at a bar later on that we bet was a lot more entertaining.


Boldface names: 2 (out of 5)
Swankiness: 2 (out of 5)
Food and drink: 3 (out of 5)
Exclusivity: 3 (out of 5)
Total score: 10 (out of 20)

Pictures below.
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