HomeEntertainment NewsBiden, Trevor Noah headline White House journalists' gala dinner

Biden, Trevor Noah headline White House journalists’ gala dinner

The president and jokes are back, the Covid masks are off and the White House Correspondents’ Dinner — Saturday’s glitzy party mixing Washington politics, media and Hollywood — is on.

The White House press corps association, the WHCA, has hosted presidents for an annual black tie dinner starting with Calvin Coolidge in 1924.

But the televised Washington social juggernaut — beloved by some, maligned as cringe-worthy by others — shuddered to a halt under the twin impacts of Donald Trump’s media-bashing presidency, then Covid-19.

So to gather 2,600 invitees at the Washington Hilton, scene of the 1981 assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan, offers a restorative return to the familiar, with President Joe Biden on hand to hear himself being roasted by Daily Show host Trevor Noah.

Some dub the WHCA get-together the “Nerd Prom,” referring to the giddy excitement of often less-than-glamorous journalists as they mix it up for a night with the rich and powerful.

While peak glitz was under Barack Obama’s Hollywood-connected presidency, Saturday’s version will feature guests including Kim Kardashian, an opening video skit by British comedian James Corden and a raft of competing after-parties.

– Covid, Ukraine cast shadows –

Covid-19 vaccination is mandatory for the gala, but many question the wisdom of 79-year-old Biden joining. His vice president, Kamala Harris, tested positive for the virus last week and the country’s senior infectious diseases specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci is not attending.

Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who will be there, said Biden was skipping the meal itself and will mask up when not speaking.

He wanted to “showcase his support for the free press” and to submit himself to Noah’s roasting routine, “where he will be on the menu, as he likes to say,” Psaki added.

Biden appears to want to draw a line under Trump, who not only never attended the dinner, but branded journalists “the enemy of the people.”

The last WHCA gala before Covid-19 broke out was in 2019. It featured neither the president nor even a comedian — fallout from the previous year’s event when featured comedian Michelle Wolf’s jokes upset Trump press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

With Washington glued to news from Ukraine and the US pushback against Russia, the dinner will have a serious side, paying tribute to sacrifices made by journalists in war zones.

“I’ve always had respect for the press, but I can’t tell you how much respect I have watching them” in Ukraine, Biden said.

WHCA President Steven Portnoy, from CBS radio, said it was time to return to tradition, with an evening honoring pioneering reporters of the past, prize winners from today and paying “respects to our colleagues who have died covering the war in Ukraine.”

And “there might be a few other surprises, too,” he added…AFP

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