The TV reporter wrapped her shawl around her shoulders and contemplated the motives of her colleagues around her. "All the local reporters are looking for jobs with the network," she said, "and all the news directors are looking for better jobs, and all the network brass are trying to make a big impression."
It was one explanation why many people turned out for the 35th annual dinner of the Radio and Television Correspondents Association last night at the Washington Hilton Hotel.
Some of the correspondents and reporters there said they were taking the opportunity to catch up on what their friends in the business are doing. Phil Jones, of CBS News, and officer of the association, claims "the rivalry goes away at something like this."
"This is camp," said a relaxed Bob Jamieson, NBC Nightly News correspondent, who claimed he enjoys dressing up in a tuxedo. "This is really high camp. There are a lot of nervous TV executives here," said Jamieson, looking around the room, "but they're always neverous."
NBC's Irving R. Levine, in a ruffled white tuxedo shirt, no longer brings a guest when he goes to this annual dinner. "This sometimes becomes a contest of who can bring the biggest name," Levine said, "or who can bring the most distinguished guest."
NBC Today Show cohost Jane Pauley came with one of the evening's biggest guests, Doonesbury cartoonist Gary Trudeau, one of last night's guest speakers.
Sporting a Vandyke beard, Trudeau smiled shyly when asked questions and said, "I really don't want to play any games. I hope you understand." When asked if he was going to say something funny at the dinner, he did reply, "I hope so."
Pauley did not want to be photographed with her friend Trudeau. "It's a personal decision," she said. "We'd rather not carry on a People magazine type of relationship."
Trudeau did get some laughs when he told the audience, "I didn't come to Washington to confront. I came to ridicule."
Trudeau reminisced about the good old times in the 60s when something called "the revolution" was on. "That was a series of demonstrations held between 1968 and 1973," he said. "The time was seasonless, it was usually held out-of-doors and the dress was casual."
He described Washington now as "a joyless and sombre place" where public officials "no longer have any fun and are sent to Washington for what they won't do. They won't talk to Koreans and they won't spend our money."
But Alfred Kahn, Carter's inflation adviser, caused the most laughter during his speech (after Trudeau) when he said, "I understand there are representatives in the audience of all the major networks -- and NBC."