Tonight’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner was set to get underway at 9:30 PM ET.
President Donald Trump has not attended the dinner in the past two years, dodging the roastings of Hasan Minhaj and Michelle Wolf.
This year Trump again is skipping the event, apparently fearing the remarks of a presidential historian as much of late-night comics. Still, Trump upped his game this year, also ordering his entire staff to boycott the Hinckley Hilton event headlined by Ron Chernow, the guy who wrote the Alexander Hamilton bio that Lin-Manuel Miranda turned into a Broadway musical smash.
Trump gets credit for collapsing Saturday night’s annual event back into its original form: nerd prom in celebration of serious journalism, instead of celebrity sightings.
For nearly two decades before Trump’s inauguration, the dinner slowly been turned into a Hollywood petting zoo, as various media outlets attending competed fiercely to get that year’s most in-the-news celeb to sit at its table.
Some point to 2002 as the year that opened the floodgate, when Fox News Channel invited Ozzy Osbourne attended the 88th annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as its guest. Ozzy stole the show, jumping up on the FNC table; President George W. Bush made headlines from the dais telling Ozzy “Mom loves your stuff!” and the other media outlets sat up and took notice.
Over the years, the guest lists have included Lindsay Lohan, various Kardashians, the stars of Modern Family, True Blood, Homeland, etc., Diane Keaton, Meg Ryan, Johnny Galecki, Reese Witherspoon, Mary J. Blige – even The Artist’s canine star Uggie.
Each year since Trump took up residence in the White House, the event has lessened in star wattage.
“It certainly is not the glamour place to be in Washington anymore,” longtime WaPo writer/Washington socialite Sally Quinn mourned this week in Politico.
“What ignites something like this is to have celebrities from Hollywood and New York and the political celebrities from Washington, and when you don’t have either one, you’ve got 3,000 journalists staring at each other,” she said.
More optimistically, in advance of tonight’s dinner, comic Jeff Ross tweeted:
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