What if they gave a White House Correspondents’ Dinner and nobody came? Well, that’s not going to happen tonight, but there is one big void at the D.C. event: Donald Trump will be the first president to skip the annual to-do since Ronald Reagan was recovering from his assassination attempt in 1981. Really, Don? Bad (or sick) guy! SAD!! Oops, sorry.
Instead, POTUS spent a chunk of his 100th day in office at a campaign-like rally a couple hours north in Harrisburg, PA. There he bashed the media, Hollywood, puppies, rainbows and the WCHD itself, calling it, in typically articulate fashion “very, very boring.” But while Trump is avoiding being insulted and mocked to his face this year, he told Reuters recently that he might attend next year — or not.
We’ve known since February that Trump and members of his administration were boycotting tonight’s dinner, and many media outlets since have canceled their pre- and post-WCHD parties in an effort to focus on the dinner and the 103-year-old White House Correspondents’ Association.
The Daily Show correspondent Hasan Minhaj is providing the entertainment tonight at the Washington Hilton, which has hosted the event for each of the past 50 years. Watch the WCHD livestream here and follow along with Deadline’s live blog below.
Welcome to Deadline’s live blog of the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner.
Comedy relief provider Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show will provide tonight’s entertainment, a year after Larry Wilmore used a “colloquialism” to describe then-President Obama.
Wilmore had a rough go at the 2016 event, but then Ol’ Dependable Obama took the room to another level with his unforced humor and a literal mic drop.
Who can forget him ending with “Obama out.”
Not sure how tonight is going to play out, as we’ve heard talk that it won’t be a nonstop bashfest of the absent POUTS and his first 100 days in office.
But that doesn’t mean there won’t be a few zingers here and there — and ideally everywhere. We’ll try to keep things interesting here while they hand out scholarship and such at the Hilton.
Still waiting for this thing to start.
Pre-show talking about Nixon’s infamous showdown with the Washington media in 1973. “One can only be angry with those he respects.” Big smile. Oof.
Reagan talking about “1,700 daily newspapers” following the president. That was the ’80s — talk about “trickle-down.”
“You’re not supposed to be sycophants, you’re supposed to be skeptics,” Obama told the White House press corps a few years back. Sure seems like longer ago than that…
Let’s gets this fractured party started.
“We are here to celebrate the press, not the president,” WHCA president Jeff Mason says. No wonder Trump skipped it.
What, no flag lapel pins? These sleazy anti-American journalists.
WHCA chief just drew a standing ovation with this line: “We are not the enemy of the American people.”
Roughly 47% of the U.S. population disagrees with that.
Woodward and Bernstein are in the house but not all the president’s men.
Another standing-O for the 2017 WHCA scholars. Two questions for these budding journalists: Isn’t journalism the sociology major of the 2010s? Do you parents know you’re getting into this field?
On a day when we mark the 25th anniversary of the start of the Los Angeles riots, let’s hope they burn-baby-burn the current administration.
Although WHCA’s Mason is aptly named because he’s about as exciting a speaker as watching grout harden.
Oh, “pool reports” — I thought he said, “Everybody into the pool.” Damn…
That was the tease-iest Alec Baldwin video appearance ever.
WHCA exec director Julie Whiston retiring after a quarter-century. Even she couldn’t deal with this administration.
Wait, maybe that’s Melissa McCarthy impersonating Jeff Mason. Now I get it!
OK, really, time to move on, folks. The midterms elections are looming.
Jeff Mason’s two most-applauded words: “And lastly…” (OK, not true but apt.)
And if you came here looking for snark about what the press corps people are wearing — or who they are wearing — you’ve come to the wrong place. To me, they look like, y’know, clothes.
Hey Jeff, don’t start by saying Woodward and Bernstein need no introduction and then give one. Sheesh.
OK, these guys are 1 and 1A on the White House investigative journalism Mount Rushmore.
Bernstein we see on CNN frequently, but Woodward has been less visible. Good to see them together.
Bernstein on Nixon: “We tried to ignore the noise and let the reporting speak.”
“Unreasonable government secrecy is the enemy.” OK, but the line where government secrecy becomes reasonable is a dodgy one.
Shout-out to Mark Felt. RIP “Deep Throat.”
Bernstein: “The people with the information we want should not be pigeonholed or pre-judged by their ideology or their politics. Almost all of our sources in Watergate were people who had at one time or another been committed to Richard Nixon and his presidency.”
Great lines — and they remind me of one of maybe three French phrases I know: “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”
Woodward at the mic.
Yeah, ol Bob’s not a riveting orator either. But I’d listen to this journalist read local cop logs.
Woodward touts Ben Bradlee who “gave us the precious luxury of time to pursue all leads, even something small. Now, in 2017, the impatience and speed of the Internet and our own rush can disable and undermine the most important tool of journalism.” Will that fit on a T-shirt? I want to market them.
“Mr. President, the media is not fake news.” But maybe it’s alternative facts?
Nicely done, Woodward and Bernstein. Hoping against hope that Redford and Hoffman crash the place.
OK, here comes the professional comic. Let’s move this to the next level, please.
“Ladies and gentlemen, Hasan Minhaj.”
“Welcome to the series finale of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner.”
First presidential shout-out goes to Obama.
“What is Comedy Central? It’s basically an internship for Netflix.”
Like Saturday Night Live is an internship for NBC.
“I was explicitly told not to go after the administration,” Minhaj says. Ugh.
USA Today jokes aren’t exactly fresh. Not like the one about when the paper won its first Pulitzer — for Best Investigative Paragraph.
“The leader of our country is not here — because he lives in Moscow.” Ding!
OK, let the Trump roasting begin!
Ooh, tough crowd. Reminds of last year when Larry Witmore had a rough go of it.
To the journalists: “The longer you keep Trump distracted, the longer we’re not at war with North Korea.”
“Even if you guys groan, I’ve already hired Kellyanne Conway to go on TV Monday and tell everyone I killed.”
Bernstien laughing at the head table.
Frederick Douglass and Mike Pence jokes go over like a Democratic pollster at a Ted Nugent concert.
Minhaj is doing pretty well. “Jeff Session couldn’t be here tonight — he was busy doing a pre-Civil War re-enactment. ON his RSVP, he just wrote no, which happens to be his second-favorite N word.”
“Nate Silver told me there was a 74.1% chance of that joke killing.”
Wide-eyed Minhaj giving it his best, but the crowd is just too … something. Unbiased, maybe?
Kudos to the director for finding reaction shots of people laughing in the crowd.
Fox News jokes. O’Reilly jokes. Watters jokes. More, please.
Jokes about MSNBC’s obsession with prison shows are great. C’mon, crowd. Have some more champagne.
“I have a lot more MSNBC jokes, but if I just stand up here and ramble on, I might get a show on MSNBC.”
CNN gags about its obsession with breaking news coulda been better.
“Let’s go to the countdown clock to the next countdown clock.” WINNER!
Oh, rough HuffPost roast.
“This has been one of the strangest events I’ve ever done in my life,” Minhaj says.
Minhaj gets a (mostly) standing ovation. Good work up there.
That’s a wrap at the Washington Hilton. Thanks for following our live blog. We return you now to our regularly scheduled lives.
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