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About The Monitor Breakfast

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25MAR85 - Godfrey "Budge" Sperling, Jr. (center), Washington Bureau Chief of The Christian Science Monitor hosts President Ronald Reagan at a Monitor Breakfast held at the White House. PHOTO: Barth Falkenberg / The Christian Science Monitor

On February 8,1966, Monitor correspondent Godfrey Sperling Jr., hosted the first "The Monitor Breakfast." The idea was that Washington reporters would gather for a meal and interview a major public figure in a civilized, comprehensive way.

Now, more than 45 years later, there have been nearly 3,700 Monitor breakfasts. Guests have included four US presidents, five vice presidents, as well as countless cabinet officers and congressional leaders. (See past guests and feature videos below)

The Washington Post called the breakfasts “one of Washington’s premier journalistic forums.”

Actually, The Monitor Breakfast story begins with a lunch. Sperling invited Monitor colleague Dick Strout and nine other reporters from other major newspapers to have lunch with Charles Percy. A former Bell & Howell executive, Percy was a friend of Sperling’s and was running for the US Senate from Illinois. During the gathering at the National Press Club, candidate Percy discussed his presidential ambitions. The session “made a lot of ripples so I had another,” Sperling explained to author Nora Ephron, who wrote a sarcastic essay about Monitor breakfasts in her book “Scribble Scribble.”

The breakfasts are closely tied to the goal of unselfish service through journalism that the Monitor’s founder, Mary Baker Eddy, set for the paper.

In a world of attack-dog, sound-bite journalism, The Monitor Breakfast encourages in-depth conversation among reporters and newsmakers. The goal is light – not heat. Guest speakers and their staff members often report that the atmosphere at Monitor breakfasts is very different from what they experience elsewhere in Washington.

Dave Cook, The Monitor Breakfast host and Washington Bureau Chief

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Notable Guests over the years

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Rahm Emanuel
White House Chief of Staff

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Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker

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Madeleine Albright
Former Secretary of State

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Rep. Barney Frank
Chair, Financial Services Committee

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Senator Harry Reid
Majority Leader

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Susan Rice
US Ambassador to the UN

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Rep. Nancy, Pelosi
Speaker of the House

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Richard Wagoner
CEO, General Motors

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John Sweeney
President, AFL-CIO

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Ray LaHood
Secretary of Transportation

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Janet Napolitano
Secretary, Homeland Security

 

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Historical Breakfast Videos

Breakfast founder "Budge" Sperling talks about the Breakfast's early days.

An inside look at The Monitor Breakfast
Highlights from across four decades
John F. Kennedy
Newt Gingrich
Gerald Ford
Bill and Hillary Clinton

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