Last night, Reuters hosted a panel entitled "Public Figures, Private Lives" to wallow in self-loathing about how much the media invades the personal lives of ostensibly public people. Panelists included First Amendment junkie Floyd Abrams, American Media den mother Bonnie Fuller, CNBC/MSNBC's Hilary Rosen, Splash News head Gary Morgan, and Slate's Jacob Weisberg, all skillfully moderated by Reuters's Paul Holmes. If you've stayed awake through that recitation of names, you might have also made it to the panel. Intern Stephanie and video-op Richard Blakeley went to the reception AND the panel (troopers!), producing the clip above (Bonnie Fuller considers herself a public figure!) and the incident report below.
Paul Holmes - The veteran Reuters reporter/panel moderator is also known as the lion tamer. Use your imagination for that one.
Bonnie Fuller - According to Nubian princess Gwyneth Paltrow, she is the devil. According to Holmes, she "peddles the magazine equivalent of crack."
Gary Morgan - The British-born paparazzi turned Splash News head provides the winning formula for tabloid sensationalism: beaches, bikinis, and babies.
Jacob Weisberg - The Slate dynamo also happens to be the person "least likely to be invited to dinner by George W." Maybe that's because George doesn't know who he is.
Floyd Abrams - Remember that old law professor that never gave anyone above an A-, because an A meant the class was too easy? Yeah, uh, well, you know ...
Hilary Rosen - The former RIAA Chairman was most likely placed for strategic gender equality. She also likes to use the term "prestige press," which most likely doesn't include us.
One of our many goals was to see what members of the press thought about Gawker invading the lives of the media elite. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance to hear many replies; a reporter from the Post exclaimed "Oh no!" and turned away when she saw us lurking nearby.
Rosen pitted Brangelina vs. Bono, citing their charitable works and explaining that Bono doesn't receive any press for his doings. Well honey, if he impregnated Jennifer Aniston and flew her to Namibia to give birth to their love child, he would receive press too. It wouldn't be for his charitable work, but who cares?
The panel concluded that celebrities are partly to blame for their own troubles. Morgan explained, "There is a symbiotic relationship between the matches of evil. Everyone needs each other to push themselves forward." Bonnie agreed — "Celebrities make their private lives public to enhance their image and for monetary gain" — citing Jessica Simpson and Nick Lachey's ill-fated Newlyweds, since though it ruined a marriage, nevertheless boosted record sales. And that's all Papa Joe cared about anyway.
Seemingly out of nowhere (though very on-topic), a "publisher of several newspapers" offered to sell Bonnie photos of 104-year-old socialite Brooke Astor, allegedly obtained from one of her servants. Bonnie politely declined, saying the story would not be appropriate for Star's readership. Star does have standards!
The moral of the event is summed up concisely by Morgan's answer to the question of where to draw the line in coverage of private life: "When you get sued." Excelsior! And though we didn't stay to the very end of the panel, a spy reported the following exchange between Jossip's David Hauslaib and Bonnie Fuller:
David Hauslaib: I knew about Lance Bass being gay a long time ago.
Paul Holmes: Who?
Hauslaib: Lance Bass ... former 'N Syncer? Anyway, what are the terms by which Star outs a celebrity?
Fuller gave a long winded answer and basically said "We don't out people." (her answer wasn't interesting, just that the Jossip guy was really smug about know that Lance was gay "a long time ago").
Let's be honest. We were all gay, a long time ago.