A dozen years after graduating, GW alumni—and politicos—Tony Sayegh and Sally Kohn reconnect on the air.
By James Irwin
The news segment ends, and the host has a question for her guest analysts: Is it possible they know each other?
Tony Sayegh and Sally Kohn laugh. They get this a lot, and for good reason. They have a rapport on the air—a mixture of affection and banter—and have appeared on TV together before, Mr. Sayegh as a conservative strategist and Ms. Kohn as a progressive pundit.
But the reason this question—asked in March 2013 by Fox anchor Megyn Kelly—is funny is because it's one they asked themselves about a year earlier in the green room at Fox.
“We’re sitting in this little room in the side studio, and we’re doing our own little thing—checking phones and reading,” Ms. Kohn said. “And we keep looking at each other. I’m thinking, ‘You look familiar somehow.’”
Ms. Kohn broke the ice, and for a few minutes she and Mr. Sayegh tried to find their common connection, backtracking through nearly 15 years of unshared history before landing in Foggy Bottom, where both had attended the George Washington University.
“And it was an, ‘Of course—got it!’ moment,” Ms. Kohn said.
Ms. Kohn, B.A. ’98 and Mr. Sayegh, B.A. ’98, M.P.A. ’00, had been members of the College Democrats and College Republicans, respectively, at GW. They weren’t close, but crossed paths a few times when the two student groups held joint events.
The revelation triggered a barrage of memories.
“I think the nicest part of the whole thing was how instantly it put us in this familiarity with each other,” Mr. Sayegh said. “Sally sits in a lot of green rooms, and so do I. And it was just nice to feel like you reconnected with a friend versus just making small talk with a colleague.”
Representing opposing political sides, the two formed a unique friendship following their chance encounter. Today, Ms. Kohn is a contributor with CNN, and Mr. Sayegh is a contributor with Fox. Both live in New York. Both have their ideological convictions. But both also are sensible. They complement each other on the air. They tease each other over the phone.
“The last time Tony suggested a get-together, he proposed it at an anti-union restaurant,” Ms. Kohn said.
“Is there an anti-union restaurant in New York City?” Mr. Sayegh deadpanned. “That’s impossible.”
For a while, prior to their current posts, Fox regularly booked them together. It wasn’t an accident, Mr. Sayegh said. He and Ms. Kohn had thoughtful debates on the air, their stances coming from a sincere place and their on-air chemistry giving them reason to often scrap the talking points and engage in refreshing, sometimes humorous conversations.
Though it’s not possible now, given their contracts with different networks, both hope for an opportunity to work together again.
“I hope there’s a format one day for us,” Mr. Sayegh said. “I have rarely met someone with her talent in terms of being incredibly brilliant and funny together—incredibly wrong most of the time, but incredibly funny and brilliant.”
“Listen,” Ms. Kohn said, “two out of three ain’t bad.”
“In baseball that’s phenomenal,” Mr. Sayegh responded.
Ms. Kohn laughed.
“The truth is some day I hope Tony reenters the formal world of politics,” she said. “I think, parties aside, any district and any state would be lucky to have him, and I would be in the position of supporting him. And I would, without reservation. He’s my kind of Republican.”