A Glitzy Gathering of Newsgatherers

His flight training complete, Prince William's next step is duty overseas.
His flight training complete, Prince William's next step is duty overseas. (By Chris Jackson -- Getty Images)
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By Marissa Newhall
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 12, 2008

The line to get inside for the Newseum's grand opening gala was snaking down the street around 8:30 last night, when Chris Matthews showed up. "Oh my gosh" and a grimace were the "Hardball" host's first reactions, followed quickly by finding someone to let him cut the line. But once a pundit, always a pundit -- a few steps later, a Newseum staffer with a video camera put a mike in his face, and Matthews's commentary was rolling like a river -- something about who he thinks will win the election.

We didn't stay to listen; there was food inside. Mountains of food -- all free! No wonder 3,000 journalists came to celebrate the media museum. Chef Wolfgang Puck himself and his catering outfit set out cheese trays, gourmet pizzas, heaps of sushi, crab claws, teriyaki wings, steamed dumplings, bite-size bundles of prosciutto. Desserts seemed to materialize out of nowhere: gelato, jelly beans, chocolate cake, chocolate-covered pretzels, pink and white rock candy, mini Key lime pies and thin white chocolates styled to look like mini-editions of something called the Newseum Gazette.

Milling about numerous open bars (we lost count, as if lost in an optical illusion) on three floors and an outdoor terrace were mostly media types: Tim Russert and Maureen Orth, Nina Totenberg, Susan Stamberg and Arthur Kent; new Post Publisher Katharine Weymouth and VP Ben Bradlee with his son, Quinn; and a smartly dressed Wolf Blitzer.

"I'm a news guy. I love news. So I must love the Newseum. It's not complicated," Blitzer told us. "I'm looking forward to spending some quality time at all the exhibits."

Also spotted: former Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, who can count as a media type by virtue of being married to Andrea Mitchell, and veteran white-haired newsman Nick Clooney (who, regrettably, did not bring his son, George).

And there was Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today and the Freedom Forum, which runs the Newseum, ambling across our path in a white tux and American-flag-print bow tie and cummerbund.

"My 10-year-old son told me, 'You can't wear that! It's not black-tie!' " But he wore it anyway, Neuharth said. About the party's real star, the building: "It took a while to open, so we're very pleased."

A Prince Gets His Wings

One step closer to eventually becoming king, Prince William received his ceremonial pilot's wings after graduating from Royal Air Force flight training yesterday.

William's father, Prince Charles, affixed the pilot's wings insignia on his son's uniform at a ceremony at an air force base in Cranwell in eastern England, the AP reports. Looking on were the prince's longtime girlfriend, Kate Middleton, and his father's wife, Camilla.

William, 25, spent four months learning to pilot helicopters and planes, meant to make him a competent, but not operational, flier. (British fighter pilots normally spend up to four years in training.) William has already graduated as an army officer and is due to serve a tour overseas, most likely on board a navy warship.

All royals undergo some military training: His father trained at Cranwell in 1971, and his grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, trained as a truck driver with the Women's Auxiliary Territorial Service during World War II.

Bruni Photo Fetches $91,000

France's first lady, Carla Bruni, is decidedly nontraditional . . . and so was the portrait of her that went for $91,000 at a New York City auction house on Thursday.

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