Washington’s once-glitzy “nerd prom” is about to get overshadowed.
Late-night TV star Samantha Bee was pulling in celebrities for the first Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday — a tongue-in-cheek play on the real bash, where journalists, the president and, in recent years, lots of bold-face names have mingled.
The real White House Correspondents’ Association gala event is being held on the same night in Washington, D.C. with different guests.
President Donald Trump was skipping the real correspondents’ dinner, instead marking his 100th day in office with a rally in Pennsylvania. No president had declined an invitation since Ronald Reagan in 1981, and he was recovering from an assassination attempt. Still, Reagan phoned in some friendly, humorous remarks.
Support for freedom of the press
Several TV stars who walked the red carpet to Bee’s unofficial dinner event have homed in on a key reason they were there: To support freedom of the press.
They say they feel press freedom has been under attack since President Donald Trump took office 100 days ago.
“Administrations have been hostile to the media before,” said actor Matt Walsh, who played press secretary Mike McClintock on the HBO political comedy Veep. “But this one is particularly isolating, or singling out, the retailers of media that they like.”
TV stars such as Alysia Reiner of Orange Is The New Black and Retta of Parks and Recreation were expected at her after-party.
Bee, a Canadian-born comedian, says she feels “the press is under assault” in the United States. The host of her namesake show says she’s contributing proceeds from her dinner event Saturday to the Committee to Protect Journalists because it “seemed very logical.”
Prepared for ‘different dinner’
WHCA dinner organizers wanted to put the focus on the First Amendment and the role of the press in democracy. The scheduled headliners were Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, set to present journalism awards.
Woodward told The Washington Post the two planned to speak about “the First Amendment and the importance of aggressive but fair reporting.”
The correspondents’ group, as usual, booked a master of ceremonies: Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show.
Broadcast coverage was to begin at 9:30 p.m. on C-SPAN, followed by Bee’s event airing on TBS at 10 p.m. Jeff Mason, the WHCA president, said this year would have been different even if Trump had attended, “based on the tension that has existed in the relationship and some of the things he has said about the press. We were preparing for a different dinner either way.”
President’s relationship with media
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