104th Annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner
The annual dinner celebrating the First Amendment and marking the White House Correspondents Association’s 104th year took place at the Washington Hilton Hotel with all individuals in the political news community closely watching. This significant event originated in the year 1874 with a state dinner honoring David Kalakaua, the last king of Hawaii. Being the high-profile party of the spring season, this White House Correspondent’s Dinner was attended by various journalists, media people, and political dignitaries from around the country.
Host Michelle Wolf’s comedy routine harshly criticized Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and included jokes about pedophilia, sexual harassment, and abortion, causing an uproar among all who attended this once a year formal event. As a result of this surprising comedy act, the entire dinner format will be reviewed, according to White House Correspondents’ Association president Margaret Talev “members are expressing dismay with the entertainer’s monologue and concerns about how it reflects on our mission.”
The Washington Hilton ballroom was crowded by an estimated 3,000 journalists, politically connected personalities, along with current and former Trump administration officials including Sean Spicer, Reince Priebus, and Kellyanne Conway. However, the number of celebrities in attendance was small and not too significant: Baltimore Orioles all-star Brooks Robinson, Comedy Central host Jordan Klepper, and Kathy Griffin among others.
Breaking from tradition for the 2nd year in a row, Donald Trump did not attend the dinner, choosing instead to hold a campaign style rally in Michigan; timing it to start at the same time as the dinner in Washington. At one point, the president even chastised the media in general, calling them “very, very dishonest people.” It should be noted: for 36 years in a row, U.S. presidents always attended this black-tie media gala until Trump broke that streak in 2017. Fifteen presidents have been there since 1921, making this a highly regarded party as well as a hot ticket.
Notable politicians on hand for this significant soiree which started in 1914 included former New Jersey governor Chris Christie, former Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe, and Ohio governor John Kasich. It was apparent to all party-goers: instead of this 104th annual dinner resembling a gathering of celebrities, the atmosphere was a strong acknowledgment of the first amendment, an awards ceremony, and a valuable fundraiser for journalism scholarships.
Clearly, the recognition of professional journalism and the challenging responsibility of the media in our country grabbed everyone’s attention on this remarkable night when talented individuals were honored in Washington, D.C. for the 104th year in a row. Bravo !
Here of some of the moments I captured while attending the event.