The National Media Mob descends on Iowa

Maggie Astor

DES MOINES – Every spring, Washington impresario Tammy Haddad hosts a charity brunch before the White House correspondents' dinner, which is a must for reporters, editors, news broadcasters, and political activists.

This crowd is currently in Iowa – they drink, braise, occasionally drive off to visit one or two presidential candidates – so Ms. Haddad, a media consultant and TV veteran, decided to bring them the fun. Hence the Snowflake Garden Brunch, a Sunday get-together in Georgetown-in-the-Cornfields in Des Moines that attracted a healthy section of the visiting political class.

The participants were greeted with mimosa and a wall made of Krispy Kreme donuts. The moderator Greta Van Susteren talked to Senator Joni Ernst from Iowa. Mayor Pete Buttigieg's spokeswoman Lis Smith gossiped with executives from ABC and NBC. The 15-year-old son of Janice Min, the former editor of Us Weekly and Hollywood reporter, reported on-site for a group called KidUnity.

Sponsors included Wells Fargo, Anthem health insurer and a Washington-based lobbyist for the wind energy industry.

"I live the dream of brunching in Wells Fargo," said a reporter, looking at an ice sculpture of a cow.

Hundreds of journalists from Washington and New York have been traveling the country for weeks to gain insight into the psyche and soul of an average citizen and to test the capabilities of a huge field of democratic hope.

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Track live reporting and analysis from Times reporters in Iowa and New York.

Maggie Astor, Reporting from Des Moines
1m ago

I'm at a Republican caucus in Waukee, Iowa, where Mick Mulvaney is supposed to appear.

Reid Epstein, reported by Johnston
8m ago

Greetings from Johnston. I just got here to find out that Amy Klobuchar will speak in this area tonight.

Michael M. Grynbaum, Reporting from Des Moines
Before 18m

I'm here at the Des Moines Marriott, the place where reporters, TV hosts and campaign artists can see and see everything

gathering after a long day on the trail.

But as with any industry get-together, Shoptalk is difficult to avoid. Nowadays, Iowa and its hotspots for journalists – namely the brightly lit lobby bar with hideous carpeting in Des Moines Marriott Downtown – feel like a summer camp, a trade convention, and an I.R.L. Twitter rolled into one.

"It's not quite Mos Eisley," said Edward-Isaac Dovere, a staff writer at The Atlantic, and referred to the alien cantina in Star Wars. "But at some point everyone seems to be getting through."

On a last night at the Marriott, there were countless bullet vests. CNN's Jake Tapper held the court and Ed Henry of Fox News came by. Senior democratic officials clapped with correspondents from BuzzFeed, CNN, Politico and Time. Bloomberg News hosted a Super Bowl screening with an open counter and free chicken wings. The Marriott gift shop sold a t-shirt with a logo that seemed tailored to the visitors: “Hello. Didn't I interview you 4 years ago? "

"Stand on a sidewalk and just start talking to people," he said. "You get a better feeling than with a fancy brunch."

Mr. Anderson said this accidentally while tickling Ms. Haddad's unusual brunch. Be honest: will he miss the media when they're gone?

"I will," he said with a laugh. "I love you. I'm not cheesy here, but the media appreciate Iowan's approach to this process, and I'm pleased."