On this month of May 23 years ago, Comic genius George Carlin delivered a spectacular monologue at NPC and answered questions.
All members of the working press, including myself, have shared wonderful memories of attending events at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
Back in March 12, 1908, 32 newspapermen with $300 in their treasury and promises of support from 200 of their colleagues decided to create a private club for reporters to socialize and talk shop. Meeting just 17 days later in the parlor of the Willard Hotel, they framed a constitution for what they called “The National Press Club.” There were 34 original members. The first NPC president was William P. Spurgeon, a reporter at The Washington Post.
Beginning in 1994, CBS news legend Marvin Kalb launched a series of television forums that probe the craft of journalism. He has questioned such journalism luminaries as CBS anchors Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, and Katie Couric, CNN international correspondent Christiane Amanpour, investigative reporters Seymour Hersh, and Dana Priest, AP President Tom Curly, and News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch.
On any given day now, the Club is bustling with press conferences, newsmaker events, forums, and professional training. Hundreds of people pass through the Club daily looking to make news and to get news, looking for professional advancement and looking for fellowship. Members enjoy the restaurants – and yes, Graham Nichol would be pleased that the card room is still open.
CBS Commentator Eric Severeid summed up what the club means to its members. Speaking in 1982 in the ballroom where so many events had taken place, he called the Club the “sanctum sanctorum of American journalists … It’s Westminster Hall, it’s Delphi, it’s Mecca… the Wailing Wall for everybody in this country having anything to do with the news business; the only hallowed place I know that’s absolutely bursting with irreverence.”
Over the years an eclectic assortment of speakers appeared at the Press Club, including Donald Trump, Alec Baldwin, Ken Burns, Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Elizabeth Taylor, Colin Powell, Louis Armstrong, Bill Clinton, Martin Luther King, Jr., Nelson Mandela, Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, Sharon Stone, Benjamin Netanyahu, George Carlin, and many others.