Politico

Media companies rethink their WHCA dinner party plans

Written by Lisa

As the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner approaches, the status of the weekend of events surrounding the end of April festivities remain turbulent.

Already Vanity Fair has canceled its after party, one of the most exclusive parties that was reliably filled each year with celebrities and Washington’s elite. Bloomberg, Vanity Fair’s co-host of that party, confirmed on Friday it was pulling out of the event as well, as Axios first reported. (Bloomberg will still attend the dinner itself).

Former President Barack Obama attracted a new level of celebrity glamour to the yearly dinner, which has come under criticism for what some called an inappropriate mixing of government officials, the reporters who cover them, and a smattering of celebrities. Critics have long argued that the influx of celebrities and TV coverage can distract from the point of the dinner — student scholarships and journalism awards.

Considering Hollywood’s general distaste of President Donald Trump, no one is expecting as many actors and celebrities to make the trek to Washington. Many are predicting that Trump himself is unlikely to show, though the WHCA says the dinner is scheduled to go on as it did in previous years.

But for the events that surround the dinner, which often start days before the actual dinner and continue through the day after, there are larger questions about whether the increasing tension between the media and the new administration (see Friday’s drama over the White House selectively blocking certain outlets, including POLITICO, from attending an off-camera gaggle), as well as the relative lack of Hollywood star power, will cause more organizations to drop out.

Bloomberg “didn’t get as much interest in a party this year as we’ve had in the past,” the organization told Axios. Time and People Magazine, which have traditionally hosted an event the night before the dinner, replete with celebrities and a swag bag to match, declined to comment on the status of their party. But a recent call to the St. Regis Hotel where the event is normally held showed that they are still completely booked for events that evening.

MSNBC, which also hosts an elaborate after-dinner party said on Friday that they had no update on the status of their event. Typically invitations start going out towards the end of March, so there’s still time to decide, one way or another.

CNN, which does not typically host any big parties during the dinner weekend, is said to be considering whether to skip the dinner itself, according to BuzzFeed.

But with the changes to the party circuit already happening, and the uncertainty around the dinner itself growing, this year’s correspondents dinner weekend will look much different than years past.

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Lisa

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