Friday, May 2, 2014


It's that time of year again, yet another White House Correspondents Association dinner about to take place tomorrow night. But this year seems to be getting less attention than in the past, and an apparent focus away from the celebrity guests.

WHCA President Steve Thomma, the veteran McClatchy scribe, says there is an effort to focus on news people and said there will be some tributes based on the fact it's the 100th anniversary of the WHCA. 

The dinner's opening video will focus on the reporters' relationship with the president, along with a tribute to the first African-American reporter to cover a presidential press conference, Harry S. McAlpin, who broke the color barrier 70 years ago.

There is some great history on the organization and nostalgic photos at the group's website HERE.

I was lucky to attend two such dinners, in 2006 and 2007, when Stephen Colbert and Rich Little hosted, respectively. The 2006 dinner also had the great George W. Bush surprise double address when impersonator Steve Bridges joined Bush on the stage.

One of the funniest addresses was not by a president or a comedian, but by Laura Bush, who brought down the house in 2005 when she took the mic and ripped into him with good humor.

This year, a name you may not know well, Joel McHale, is the comedic voice. Curious how he rolls? Check him out HERE.

Of course the real event is often not the dinner, but the before and after parties where I rubbed shoulders with the likes of George Clooney, Michael Strahan, Laurence Fishburn and Tommy Lasorda. Will be interesting to see who shows up this year and if in fact there is less of a celebrity presence.

One interesting incident I observed firsthand was in 2007 when Karl Rove got into a heated match with singer Sheryl Crowe after Crowe and her pal, Laurie David (wife of TV funnyman Larry David) urged him to rethink his stand on global warming.  

After the dust settled, I asked Rove how he was doing, he said he was enjoying it all "if I can get to my meal." Oddly, he was seated at The New York Times table. The Times does not even attend the dinner any more, finding it creates a conflict of interest.

The truth is the real meaning of the night, often forgotten, is the raising of money for journalism scholarships, something more important than who attends or who they are wearing.

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