“I remember when BuzzFeed was just something I did in college around 2 a.m.,” President Obama joked Saturday night during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Members of the press attending the dinner roared with laughter.
Most BuzzFeed staffers were attending their own party in Washington, however, and missed the moment.
“That was totally unexpected,” BuzzFeed publicist Ashley McCollum marveled after the line blew up on Twitter.
The event was an irresistible story angle for reporters. BuzzFeed failed to get a table for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. In response, the New York-based media company decided to the throw its own D.C. party for the hundreds of reporters and political staffers in Washington who also missed out on the dinner.
C-SPAN, the official network for the WHCD, also sent a camera to BuzzFeed’s party in time to film the long lines and packed crowds at the Jack Rose Dining Saloon on 18th Street NW in Adams Morgan.
The lower room of the saloon was instantly swarmed as the thirsty crowd overwhelmed the small staff of bartenders running the open bar. After the overflow crowds, willing to pay cash for their drinks, flowed into the upper rooms, the BuzzFeed team picked up the tab.
Although all of the bar TVs were tuned in to C-SPAN, they were drowned out by loud conversations and the thumping music from the DJ.
Of the few televisions that displayed closed captioning, the words [Applause] and [Laughter] appeared onscreen as Conan and Obama swapped lines.
Each time C-SPAN turned to the BuzzFeed party, the crowd cheered.
“You’d think that someone would have thought of this sooner,” a party attendee observed, watching the scene unfold as he clutched another drink.
The audience cheered again after they saw BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith featured on the phone with a C-SPAN host.
“I don’t want to discuss private conversations that I’ve heard secondhand,” Smith said diplomatically when asked about the complex situation with the WHCD organizers.
But, as the drinks flowed freely, some of those details spilled out in conversations.
Organizers coordinating the entertaining WHCD House of Cards spoof video wanted to cut Smith’s cameo, according to a source. The "House of Cards" producers who collaborated with the event, however, refused.
In the video, Smith is shown filling a beer from a keg telling a BuzzFeed partygoer that “a colonoscopy would be cooler than that dinner.”
Several cast members from the popular "House of Cards" show arrived at the party after the correspondents’ dinner, hitting the dance floor as attendees flocked to snap pictures.
As the party thinned out, BuzzFeed political staffers crammed into a booth to celebrate their successful party, swapping stories and checking Twitter for any mentions.
The group laughed over a party photo of BuzzFeed White House Correspondent Evan McMorris-Santoro that went out on Twitter with the caption, “This guy is on CSPAN in 7 hours and 40 minutes.”
It was 2 a.m. before the staffers began filing out of the bar.
“Tell us about why BuzzFeed had a separate event?” a C-SPAN host asked McMorris-Santoro early the next morning.
“Well you know, this is a little bit above my pay grade. They tell me where to go and I go,” McMorris-Santoro responded and added, “It was a great party.”