You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Showbiz Will Take a Backseat to New Media, Journalists at White House Correspondents’ Festivities

WASHINGTON — Michael Beschloss, the presidential historian, on Thursday posted a photo from the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner some 95 years ago: All men in tuxes, lined up at long tables, and no celebrities of their day among them.

This year’s event won’t be quite so staid, but it isn’t what it was just a few years ago, as the whole weekend became a surreal mixture, showbiz A-listers mingling with a member of the Supreme Court. In 2010, as he tried to get through a throng jammed into a Washington Hilton corridor, Dennis Quaid was asked what he thought of D.C. “So far, it’s just like Hollywood,” he said.

Organizers of the dinner and related events are focusing much more on journalism and the First Amendment. The Saturday night event will feature not a comedian, as has been tradition for decades, but another historian, Ron Chernow, author of “Hamilton” and more recently “Grant.”

Olivier Knox, the president of the White House Correspondents Association and SiriusXM’s chief Washington correspondent, said that the time was right for a “reset,” and other members likely agree, given that many thought that last year’s comedian, Michelle Wolf, was a bit too biting in her barbs, particularly since members of the Trump administration were in the room.

As he has since he took office, President Trump is skipping the dinner, and instead will be holding a rally in Green Bay, Wisconsin. But he’ll likely to a target of criticism, even without a comedian on stage. Knox hinted that he will talk about the president’s attacks on the media, and Chernow was highly critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign. “I’m more deeply disturbed than by any other presidential campaign in our history,” Chernow said in a video that year.

Knox also is planning to call attention to Austin Tice, the freelancer who was abducted while reporting in Syria in 2012. The WHCA will be handing out pins and will feature a banner referencing Tice’s situation, while the Los Angeles Times will hold a post-dinner fundraiser for him at the National Press Club.

The White House reportedly has ordered members of the administration to boycott the dinner, but that apparently does not extend to other events over the weekend. And comedians Jay Leno and Samantha Bee will be headlining other fetes.

Jay Sures, co-president of United Talent Agency, said that he believes that a number of administration figures will attend their Friday night party, a celebration of journalists and the agency’s news media clients. Last year, for instance, Kellyanne Conway attended, and chatted with Michael Avenatti, one of a number of ideological mixes of the evening. The event will be held at the waterfront restaurant Fiola Mare.

“We want this party to be a diverse get together of people who have different points of view and perspectives,” Sures said.

He added, “The main reason we do it is that it is a celebration of our journalist clients who are reporting the news day in and day out, and supporting them in this tricky time right now.”

But he said that the weekend itself may be a contrast to past years.

“I think it is just a different weekend. Without a comedian [at the dinner], it is just going to be a different tone. There will be more of a focus on the First Amendment.”

CAA is hosting an event earlier on Friday evening, a cocktail reception at the Eaton DC’s rooftop lounge. The Eaton is one of the city’s new hotels.

Leno will be a special guest at the annual Garden Brunch, taking place on Saturday afternoon at the Beall-Washington House. This year it will honor military veterans, and Leno will present the Champions of Freedom Award, and Jean Case and other hosts will present the Be Fearless Award. Tammy Haddad, Hilary Rosen, Mark and Sally Ein, Steve Case, Jennifer Dunn, Zac Moffatt, Greta Van Susteren and John Coale, Fritz Brogan and Franco Nuschese also are hosts.

Bee will tape her TBS show, “Not the White House Correspondents Dinner,” on Friday night at DAR Constitution Hall, with the show airing the following night, counter programming to the dinner.

Other highlights:

Thursday: Allen Gannett, Eric Kuhn, John McCarthy and Jennifer DeCasper host the annual Bytes and Bylines party at the residence of the Ambassador to Ireland, Daniel Mulhall. The event is aimed at leaders in tech, media and politics.

Friday: The Hill is hosting an event at the National Portrait Gallery, “Politics Without Prejudice: A Toast to Freedom of the Press,” that will feature a performance by Questlove. RealClearPolitics is holding an event at the National Restaurant Association.

Saturday: Capitol File magazine is hosting a post-dinner event at The Dupont Circle Hotel, with Michael Kelly of “House of Cards” as one of the co-hosts. NBC News and MSNBC are once again hosting an after party at the Italian Embassy.

Sunday: Thomson-Reuters hosts a brunch at the top of the Hay-Adams Hotel, while CNN is throwing its annual “Political Hangover” brunch at a private events venue on North Capitol Street.

Photo: Anthony Scaramucci, Jay Sures and Michael Avenatti at last year’s UTA party on White House Correspondents weekend in Washington.

More Politics

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Spectators watch the 2019 Eurovision Song

    U.S. Music Industry Delegation Convenes in Tel Aviv for Eurovision

    This past weekend, squeezed between a string of Eurovision Song Contest parties, Tel Aviv’s posh Norman hotel played host to an intimate, invite-only dinner of music industry delegates from the United States. The rooftop-set event was designed as a highlight on the itinerary of the Creative Community for Peace (CCFP) weeklong trip to Israel. CCFP, [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

  • CEO of T-Mobile John Legere (L)

    FCC Chairman Backs T-Mobile, Sprint Merger With New Conditions

    FCC Chairman Ajit Pai gave a thumbs-up to T-Mobile and Sprint’s proposed $26 billion merger, after the companies committed to enhanced 5G buildout commitments and agreed to spin off Sprint’s Boost Mobile. T-Mobile and Sprint first announced their plans to merge in April 2018, looking to combine forces to take on industry leaders AT&T and [...]

  • Billie Eilish and Debbie Harry

    Billie Eilish, Blondie's Debbie Harry Attack Abortion Ban

    Songwriting took a backseat to politics for the female honorees at Thursday night’s ASCAP Pop Music Awards at the Beverly Hilton. America’s rapidly spreading anti-abortion movement in states such as Alabama, Georgia and, most recently, Missouri — and resulting legal battles that could lead the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade — had veteran [...]

  • The Spectator Magazine Summer Party at

    Trump Pardons Former Media Mogul Conrad Black

    President Donald Trump has issued a full pardon for Conrad Black, a former media mogul who was convicted on counts of wire fraud and obstruction of justice and who also wrote a biography that praised the president last year. According to a lengthy post on Black’s website, Trump called Black and told him personally of [...]

  • Trump CNN

    White House Asks Users to Report Alleged Social Media Censorship

    Doubling down on the idea that conservative views are being censored on social media, the White House launched a web form Wednesday afternoon that asks users to report any actions taken against them on platforms like Facebook and Twitter because of their political views. “Social media platforms should advance freedom of speech,” the White House [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content