Lunch with the man who eats (with) moguls for lunch

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Today was the aforementioned Michael Wolff luncheon put on by Thompson & Knight. Fortunately, even though I was invited while still at my former gig, the good folks at TKlaw didn’t hit me with a TKO. (If that groan-inducing pun put you in mind of a bad Sex in the City outro, than an afternoon Chimay has done its work well.)

Wolff is a candid and engaging speaker, coming across as much more genteel and friendly than the "Lester Bangs" image portrayed in his prose. He expressed genuine admiration for several of the moguls he skewers, and didn’t let himself off the hook either — a story about taking his dog and daughter on TV to claim (falsely) that the pooch had been found online to promote his internet startup, for instance.

I bristled briefly when, early in the talk, Wolff described Michael’s for us, very slowly and using intentionally small words. But, on later reflection, I realized that he was playing to his audience — I’m fairly certain I was the only media person in the room. (April confirmed that for me after I told her the story when I got home: "Were you the only one without a tie? Yup. You were the only media guy.")

That impression was bolstered by the Q&A session, which I restrained myself from monopolizing. My favorite question (paraphrased): "Does Dan Rather live in your neighborhood and are you glad that that pompous-ass got his comeuppance on the way out?" The polite Dallas crowd all murmured and looked at their neighbors right-left to show that they were appropriately appalled, even though I imagine that most agreed with the sentiment.

Wolff handled that, and other questions with aplomb. Mine, about whether we media fools ever actually learn anything, led to a story about the Google founders dreaming of branded underwear.

Afterwards, all the while cursing myself as a media whore of the highest order, I corralled the poor man and did the only thing that I could think of that would be worse than shilling Our Little Project — I led him into asking a question that meant that good manners required him to listen to my schpeal. To his credit, he seemed genuinely interested. To mine, I suppose that move places me one step further along my path as an MIT.

Mike Orren is the Chief Product Officer of The Dallas Morning News; President of Belo Business Intelligence; husband to Crystal Orren; and a Mungarian at Munger Place Church in Dallas, TX. All opinions herein are mine alone.