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New York Times Nails Story Over Lunch

September 19, 2017

Simply perfect.

But I’ve never overheard a conversation quite like the one I accidentally encountered last Tuesday, when I met a source for lunch at BLT Steak, a downtown Washington steakhouse frequented by the capital’s expense-account set. My source chose the restaurant, but I didn’t protest, since BLT is on the same block as The New York Times’s Washington bureau and has a delightful tuna niçoise salad with fingerling potatoes and green beans.

Being a rare temperate day in Washington with tolerable humidity, we requested a table in the restaurant’s outdoor section, which abuts a busy sidewalk. Not long after we’d ordered, my source noticed someone he thought he recognized being seated at the table behind me. 

“Isn’t that the Trump lawyer?” he asked.

I turned slightly in my chair and noticed the unmistakable visage of Ty Cobb, the veteran Washington lawyer with a prominent handlebar mustache, who was accompanied by another man I did not immediately recognize. Mr. Cobb had been retained by the White House in July to coordinate its response to investigations into Russia’s connections with President Trump and his associates, including whether they conspired to influence the 2016 presidential election.

My source and I continued chatting as our lunches arrived, even as I periodically strained to hear Mr. Cobb’s conversation with his dining companion, apologizing to my source for seeming more interested in the conversation at the adjacent table than our own. Eventually, he took mercy on me, excusing himself not long after he polished off his crab gazpacho and Caesar salad, and leaving me to focus completely on Mr. Cobb’s conversation, except for a brief and unwitting interruption from a pair of fellow Times journalists passing on the sidewalk on their way to the bureau. I tried to hustle them along when they paused to gently rib me over what must have appeared to be a lonely solo lunch.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 21, 2017 11:25 AM

    One vote,

    I get your message and thank you for your comment. I think the political culture at this time is most deplorable. The fight for liberty and equality are always ongoing. And there is a clearly drawn line between the haves and have-nots in D.C. but that is true for many places across the nation. Over the past 30 years I would argue that D.C. has vastly improved for all in that it is much safer for all and new development which has changed the places where poverty (and crime) once thrived are now areas of housing and new employment opportunities which makes a positive impact for all–regardless of one’s income. I talked with a man this spring who works for the District’s Parks Service who said that the place he grew up was one where no one ever cared how it looked. “We did it to ourselves” were his words. Now he told me his old neighborhood is a bustling series of streets where people can walk late at night and be safe. Some do win and some do lose but the arc seems to move in the direction of progress for all.

  2. onevote permalink
    September 20, 2017 10:24 PM

    DC, where one quarter of the quadrant (the Northwest) are well-off, but the rest are poor. I’m just a midwest person that lived in DC, and never got sucked into the machine.

    I had knowledge, but did not try to pass myself off as a sophisticate, telling others that I ate creme de toenails at Es-Car-Go.

    Trump is bad, but so are politics since 1980, and it’s about time that we change things so that the other three-quarters of DC can be included as Americans–just like those not-so- well-off Wisconsinites could be included.

  3. Solly permalink
    September 20, 2017 10:44 AM

    Reminds me of when Rick Skindrud, a Dane County Republican Assemblyman was explaining the caucus scandal in a local restaurant and directly contradicting his previous “see no evil….” statements to his constituents and the press. Little did he know that the reporter who broke the scandal story, Dee Hall was sitting nearby in the same restaurant with her family and taking it all in. A county supervisor who was part of the Skinny group said, “after years of working around noisy farm machinery, I guess Rick talks a little too loud.” Nobody ever said we elect rocket surgeons to the Legislature. When he lost his seat in the next election he was rewarded with the patronage job of Assembly Sgt. at Arms.

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