“There were 16 Pulitzers in that room,” said Mr. Rosenthal.
Past op-ed columnists included Anthony Lewis, Anna Quindlen and William Safire—who still writes the weekly “On Language” column.
“It was a warm, collegial affair,” said Mr. Safire. “I think it was the third out of four dinners that they are giving in that room, in a farewell to the old building.”
Also on hand were former editor Jack Rosenthal—an occasional “On Language” pinch-hitter who is now president of the Times Company Foundation.
Former editorial-page editor (and soon-to-be columnist) Gail Collins said that she could only remember one other, similar get-together. That occurred about eight years ago, when Howell Raines was still running the section.
As far as conversation among the opinionated crowd, Ms. Collins said that she was happily seated between Frank Rich and Tom Friedman.
“People would pay $10 billion to sit between Frank and Tom,” she said.
If only they would!
Messrs. Friedman and Rich, along with Safire and Lewis, spoke to the group, mostly relating anecdotes about their tenure at The Times.
“I teased Tony Lewis when I got up and just said, ‘Tony and I had cancelled each other out for 25 years,’” said Mr. Safire. He added that the dinner “didn’t have any type of political overtone.”
“The point that it made is that opinion writers who strongly disagree can still be friends,” Mr. Safire said.
Current columnists Maureen Dowd, Bob Herbert and David Brooks were also on hand.
And not surprisingly, peripatetic writer Nicholas Kristof, who’s most recent dateline is Taishan, China, couldn’t make it back. So his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, came in his place.