Tonight is the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and yes, I’m going.
The dinner is in some ways antithetical to what journalism is all about. We’re supposed to be outsiders, skeptics – loners on a lonely, poorly paid mission to uncover truth and hold power accountable.
That’s mostly what I am.
And that’s mostly what this dinner is not. It’s all about being a part of the in crowd, nibbling hors d’oeuvres with power and celebrity, and being part of the scene. It’s about getting your hair done, being noticed in a great dress, and suiting up in an expensive tuxedo.
Tickets cost $250, though most of it goes to expenses and charity.
It’s also about business. Publications gobble up tables of tickets and then gift them to advertisers and other people they want to make happy. Reporters often take sources.
Don’t cry for journalism when publications can shell out cash at these prices for a party.
Even at $250 a plate, demand exceeds supply. People are turned away.
The competition to obtain as many tables as possible is ferocious. Journalists and their bosses turn weepy or furious, begging or fulminating that organizers give them enough seats to befit their grandiose perception of their status in the press world.
Every year, the organizers lose a few decibals of hearing listening to puny, outraged journalists.
The event now includes several exclusive “after” and “before” parties, where Hollywood and media stars abide. Journalists subtly brag about which ones they get invited to.
“Oh, the Vanity Fair party was so much fun! Did you go this year?”
So why am I going to the dinner?
I admit, I love it. It’s interesting to me to see Hollywood stars hanging out and to talk to them. I once had an nice discussion with George Clooney, who calmly chatted with me while ignoring the pile of people accumulating around us hoping for a chance to slobber on him.
I bumped into former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan and told him I had just refinanced and thanked him for my low rate. He didn’t think it was funny, and his wife Andrea Mitchell shot him a look like “come on honey, that was a pretty good one.”
It’s a circus, a spectacle to behold. Henry Kissinger ambles around. You turn around, and there’s MC Hammer. Donald Trump will be holding forth this year. You just never know what’s next.
It’s also invaluable from a business sense. Put bluntly, I can meet people who will help me advance this blog. Not monetarily – I don’t have investors. But people who can help it gain recognition, who can link to me or put me on TV. I need to be at this thing.
I will take pictures, and give you a report.
Let me know what you think.