DemDaily: The Best of White House Correspondents’ Weekend!

April 29, 2024


It was a star-studded weekend in DC, with a series of annual events that bring Washington and Hollywood together to celebrate their enduring romance and shared passion for defenders of free expression.

A flurry of receptions and parties were hosted by the White House foreign press, Politico, Axios, Vital Voices, Deadline Hollywood, The Wall Street Journal, MPA, CAA, Time, the Washington Post and the major networks. All revolved around the gem of the weekend: The White House Correspondents' Dinner (WHCD) Saturday night.

The annual gathering celebrates the best and the brightest of journalism, and the people they cover -- with more than a smattering of Hollywood and political elite in attendance.

The red carpet event includes nearly 3,000 powerbrokers, pundits, journalists, government officials, members of the political and entertainment media, and celebrities -- all too happy to work the room.

Familiar Media faces included Andrea Mitchell, Wolf Blitzer, Stephanie Ruhle, Lester Holt, Kristen Welker, Karine Jean-Pierre, Dana Bash, Al Sharpton, Kate Bolduan, Jen Psaki, Al Roker, Alicia Menendez, Poppy Harlow, Gayle King, John Quiñones, Savannah Guthrie, Symone Sanders and Eugene Daniels.

Also sightedElected officials including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker (D), Maryland Governor Wes Moore (D), Virginia Senator Mark Warner (D), former House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Senator John Fetterman (D-PA), who wore a hoodie printed with a bow tie and carnation.

The Cabinet was also well-represented by Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients, as well as Secretary of the Army Christine Wormuth.

The hottest ticket of the year, the "nerd prom" was held at the Washington Hilton. NBC News Senior White House Correspondent and President of the WHCD Association Kelly O'Donnell served as a gracious Master of Ceremonies while writer, comedian and Saturday Night Live veteran Colin Jost served as Roast Master.


In addition to POTUS, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and First Gentleman Doug Emhoff, celebrity notables included Chris Pine, Fran Drescher, Sean Penn, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Jon Hamm, Keri Russell, Questlove, Rosario Dawson, Rachel Brosnahan, Coco Rocha, Lorne Michaels, Quavo, Scarlett Johansson, and Naomi Biden, among others.

The evening is also traditionally an opportunity for the President to take a comedic shot at the press corps, other political figures, of course, himself.

The Best of Biden
Biden came out swinging with a few jabs at former President Donald Trump, who, by stark contrast, is in New York standing trial on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in the first degree to cover up hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election.

“I’ve had a great stretch since the State of the Union. But Donald has had a few tough days lately. You might call it ‘stormy weather.'”

“Trump’s so desperate, he started reading those Bibles he’s selling. Then he got to the First Commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ That’s when he said, ‘This book’s not for me.’”

“The 2024 election is in full swing. And yes, age is an issue. I’m a grown man running against a six-year-old.”

“Age is the only thing we have in common. My vice president actually endorses me” (Referring to former Vice President Mike Pence's refusal to say he'll back his former running mate in 2024).

“I really feel great. I’m campaigning all over the country – Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina. I’ve always done well in the original 13 colonies.”

“The New York Times issued a statement blasting me for ‘actively and effectively avoiding independent journalists.' Hey, if that’s what it takes to get The New York Times to say I’m active and effective, I’m for it.”

To the assembled journalists: "Some of you complain that I don't take enough of your questions. No comment."

Biden took a serious moment to address November's presidential election, and Trump's “attack on our democracy.” He called on journalists to “rise up to the seriousness of the moment," to report “truth over lies...Move past the horse race numbers and the 'gotcha' moments and the distractions and the sideshows that have come to dominate and sensationalize our politics, and focus on what’s actually at stake,” Biden said. “I think in your hearts, you know what's at stake.”


Best of Colin Jost
“I don’t have a lot of time. I need to get back to New York because I’m juror No. 5 on a big trial. Trump’s lawyer took one look at me, and he’s like, ‘He’s got to be on our side.’”

“Doug [Emhoff], as you can tell from all the comments about my wife, I’m also used to being the second gentleman.”

“I have to admit, it’s not easy following President Biden. I mean, it’s not always easy following what he’s saying.”

“Can we just acknowledge how refreshing it is to see a president of the United States at an event that doesn’t begin with a bailiff saying ‘all rise’?”

"I would like to point out, it's after 10pm, sleepy Joe is still awake, while Donald Trump has spent the past week falling asleep in court every morning. Fox News said he was just being anti-woke."

“I’m not saying both candidates are old, but you know Jimmy Carter is out there thinking, ‘I could maybe win this thing.’”

“The Washington Post is here. … They were the ones taking your coats at the door. Please be sure to tip.”

“The Correspondents’ Association provides scholarships to promising young journalism students who may one day be sent off to cover dangerous geopolitical hotspots like Columbia University” (Referring to the recent student protests over the Israel-Hamas war).

As journalists and celebrities entered the Washington Hilton, protesters accused them of cosigning the president’s handling of the Israel-Hamas war, shouting, “Shame on you!” while urging them to speak out against the killing of journalists in Gaza.

The WHCD Awards, which honor excellence in presidential news coverage, recognized the work of Barak Ravid (Axios), Peter Baker (New York Times), Tamara Keith (NPR), Doug Mills (The New York Times) and, for team reporting, The Washington Post.

The group of some 30 actors and entertainment talent, organized by non-partisan, non-profit The Creative Coalition (TCC), which carries the entertainment industry's advocacy banner on promoting First Amendment rights, arts advocacy and education.

Formed in 1989, TCC informs its members from every corner of the industry to empower their celebrity status "to move inside the political process -- to actually help shape policy."

Another major draw of the weekend was TCC's Right to Bear Arts Gala Friday night at the Madison Hotel, hosted by AARP. The elegant evening, moderated by TCC President and actor Tim Daly and CEO Robin Bronk, boasted celebrity guests Jon Cryer, Molly Ringwald, Lauren Ash, Diedrich Bader, Dulé Hill, David Cross, Yvette Nicole Brown and Tramell Tillman.

DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: WHCA, TCC, Politico, The Hill, Deadline, NBC, Hollywood Reporter, Washington Post, New York Times

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