Jacob Weisberg is an occasional guest on “Now with Alex Wagner,” the fast-moving daytime panel-discussion program on MSNBC. Hey, what better insider perch from which to profile this up-and-coming talent?
In a new Vogue profile of Wagner and her fiance, White House chef Sam Kass, Weisberg writes of the on-air talent, “Wagner is more electric: vivacious, delightfully profane, a natural host at dinner just as she is on her daytime MSNBC news program, Now with Alex Wagner.” There’s this, too: “The couple’s status and influence derive not from their accumulation of credentials or glittering public appearances but from their pursuit, away from the spotlight, of interesting life experiences and easygoing taste-making.” And there’s this bit, in which Weisberg shows a mastery of the program on which he occasionally sits: “The intelligence and fun of this hour-long conversation have made Now with Alex Wagner a daytime destination for young, Web-based journalists like Ezra Klein of [The] Post and Maggie Haberman of Politico, who share the host’s enthusiasm about policy, her playful sensibility, and sometimes her liberal outrage.”
To his credit, Weisberg, head of the Slate Group, includes a disclosure about his conflict in writing up the piece, which he can’t resist pairing with more praise: “(I’ve been a guest several times; on good days, the conversation just clicks.)” he writes.
Perfectly fine, all of it. A Vogue piece on a young and glamorous Washington-New York couple creates few expectations for sharp-elbowed profile journalism.
Yet, yet, yet!!! Did Weisberg really have to include the following line?
Their ideal Saturday night is dinner with friends — not a red-carpet event.
How many celebrities have ever copped to preferring a red-carpet event to:
• Dinner with friends;
• A night with a book, a blanket and a glass of wine;
• A brisk workout followed by a plate of pasta;
• A classic Netflix movie and takeout;
• Or some such humble pastime?
Consider for a moment just how a Washington creature might articulate a preference the opposite — that is, a red-carpet event over a more wholesome evening: “Me, I’m not much for hanging out at home with family and friends. I would much rather rent a tux, spend a half-hour suiting up — and then sip free cocktails paid for by the very companies I’m entrusted with [covering/regulating].” Still waiting to read such a quote.
Part of the reason why this is such an empty and useless puff line stems from pure numbers. There are 365 nights in the year (52 Saturdays) and only so many legitimate red-carpet events. If you don’t prefer a down-home style of entertainment to galas, you’re in trouble.
Vast preference for the simple life notwithstanding, Wagner shows up in the photo at right at the September 2013 D.C. premiere of “Homeland.” She appears to be standing on something that at least resembles red carpet.
Here she is at the 2013 OurTime.org Inaugural Youth Ball, again with something resembling red carpet under her feet.
Here she is at the September 2013 NCLR ALMA Awards at Pasadena Civic Auditorium, red carpet under foot.
Here she is at the October 2013 WICT Leadership Conference at the New York Marriott. (Floor not visible in photo).
Here she is at the April 2013 Glamour And L’Oreal Paris Celebration for the Top Ten College Women. Carpet, yes; red, no.
Here she is at the 2013 White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner after-party festivities (scroll down to seventh picture).
None of this photographic evidence upends Weisberg’s judgment that Wagner and her husband-to-be prefer dinner with friends over such events on Saturday nights. Clearly those friends weren’t available on these particular nights, not all of which were Saturdays. That’s all.