Much like the Los Angeles’ Academy Awards and New York’s Met Gala, the tradition that is the White House Correspondents Dinner seems to be printed by default in Washington D.C. calenders. However, like many political traditions since January 20th, this one is already faltering under the new Republican administration.
Over the last week, since the new White House Press Secretary took to the podium, journalists have been scrambling to find a new credible way to cover this unorthodox administration’s approach to reporting government affairs. While the media are in shock and the White House is dismantling the barometer for a fact, which is now not even hitting the bar to qualify as “truthiness” — a word coined by previous Correspondents Dinner host Stephen Colbert.
The New Yorker magazine has announced today that they are canceling the annual event, not hosting their regular party at the W Hotel. The news comes as the New Yorker releases the cover of their next issue. The cover featured the sky reaching lantern arm of the statue of liberty with smoke ascending to the skies from the blown out torch. The cover story, written by John W. Tomac, is titled Liberty’s Flameout.
Another to pull out of the event’s festivities is Vanity Fair, they usually co-host the most prestigious post-dinner party around. Vanity Fair’s co-host Bloomberg is scheduled to continue with plans for the party. However, the details of the party and whether the event will have another co-sponsor remain vague. The news of Vanity Fair pulling out was reported by the New York Times following an email from editor Graydon Carter where he cited “Trump” as the reason. He continued to say “we’ve taken a break from the dinner in the past” and that his plans for the dinner’s weekend include fishing in Connecticut.
WHCA president Jeff Mason said in a statement to members of the White House Correspondents’ Association on February 2nd that “this year, as we do every year, we will celebrate the First Amendment and the role an independent press plays in a healthy republic. We will also reward some of the finest political reporting of the past year while using our scholarship program to highlight and support up-and-coming journalists who are the future of our profession. In the meantime, the WHCA will pursue its core mission of advocating for journalists’ ability to ask questions of government officials, push for transparency from the presidency, and help Americans hold the powerful to account. This is a responsibility that we have taken seriously for more than 100 years and will continue to uphold.”
BuzzFeed is continuing its position of not attending the dinner haveing never attended Nerdprom themselves. Instead, the website will on the same night as the dinner again host its separate event. The New York Times cited an interview with the managing editor of BuzzFeed’s Washington bureau Kate Nocera, in which she said “It might actually be a good thing if it’s less of that this year. I feel like there’s been some burnout around what a spectacle of a weekend it is.”
BuzzFeed has never bought tickets to attend the dinner and will continue to host an alternative event on the night it takes place, Ms. Nocera said. The New York Times stopped sending journalists in 2008.
In relation to how the media should proceed with covering “a White House that isn’t afraid to lie?” VOX posted a superb video report:
The host for the event, usually a comedian, has not yet been announced. Although, given the late announcement of confirmed performers at Trump’s inauguration, with performers distancing themselves from the new administration, it seems it could be a while before one is announced.
Beau Willimon writer of a show Trump has been frequently compared to House of Cards raises an interesting point online. Willimon tweeted about the event saying “Press should boycott altogether. Or leave when he speaks. He has zero respect for press. Why give him this platform?”
The dinner hosted by the White House Correspondents’ Association is scheduled to take place on April 29th at the Washington Hilton. Until now Presidents have had a shared humility in the eyes of the performers when it comes to their deminer when attending the dinner.
Trump has had a pretty shaky history with the event having been mocked at the podium in 2011 by comedian Seth Meyers. A year where following the dinner Mr. Trump’s silent stone-like reaction to the jokes was hard to miss. However, this year when Trump has full control over the podium it’s hard to predict what he could say and if he’ll mention the 2011 past time in his speech. You can watch Seth Meyers’ speech at the 2011 dinner below:
With Trump it’s certainly going to be interesting to see exactly what goes down following what we’ve already seen. Honestly, we have to ask ourselves are we prepared and is it even imaginable?