White House Correspondents' Association


White House Correspondents' Association

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the President of the United States. The WHCA was founded in 1914 by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a Congressional committee would select which journalists could attend press conferences of President Woodrow Wilson. [http://www.whca.net/history.html Unverifiable leak leads to modern WHCA] , from the WHCA website] Among the issues handled by the WHCA are press access to the President and physical conditions in White House press briefing rooms. [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003576059 Joe Strupp, "Incoming WHCA Prez: Next Year's Dinner Will Not Be 'Politically Correct' ", Editor and Publisher, April 25, 2007] ]

Officers

The president of the association is Ann Compton of ABC News. A complete list of current [http://www.whca.net/officers.htm officers and board members] is available on the WHCA site.

WHCA Dinner (WHCD)

The WHCA's annual dinner, begun in 1920, has become a Washington, D.C. tradition and is usually attended by the President and Vice President. Thirteen presidents have attended a WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924. The dinner is held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton.

Prior to World War II, the annual dinner featured singing between courses, a homemade movie and an hour-long, post-dinner show with big-name performers." In recent years the featured speaker has often been a comedian, with the dinner taking on the form of a roast, especially of the President.

In several recent years, the dinner has fallen shortly after major national events and tragedies, such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Waco incident, the Columbine shooting, and the Virginia Tech Massacre, thus dampening the spirit of the event. ]

Dinner Criticisms

The WHCD has been increasingly criticized as an example of the coziness between the White House press corps and the Administration. [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003575828 Joe Strupp, "WHCA Prez Defends Dinner Amid Criticism Of 'Coziness' and Rich Little", Editor and Publisher, April 24, 2007] ] The dinner typically includes a skit, either live or videotaped, by the sitting President in which he mocks himself, for the amusement of the press corps. ] The press corps, in turn, hobnobs with Administration officials, even those who are unpopular and are not regularly cooperative with the press. ] Increasing scrutiny by bloggers has contributed to added public focus on this friendliness. ]

After the 2007 dinner, New York Times columnist Frank Rich implied that the Times will no longer participate in the dinners. [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003578021 "Frank Rich: 'NY Times' Will No Longer Participate in WHCA Dinner", Editor and Publisher, April 29, 2007] ] Rich said that the event is "a crystallization of the press's failures in the post-9/11 era" because it "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows." ]

In recent years, the dinners have drawn increasing public attention each year as the entertainers draw more interest, and the guest list grows "more Hollywood". ] The attention given to the guest list and entertainers often overshadows the intended purpose of the dinner, which is to "acknowledge award-winners, present scholarships, and give the press and the president an evening of friendly appreciation." ] This has led to an atmosphere of coming the event only to "see and be seen." ] This usually takes place at pre-dinner receptions and post-dinner parties hosted by various media organizations, which are often a bigger draw and can be more exclusive than the dinners themselves. [ [http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/22/AR2007042201465.html Libby Copeland and Dana Milbank, The In-Crowd Steps Out: After the Correspondents' Dinner, Parties Are Icing on the Cake, Washington Post, April 23, 2007] ] [ [http://washingtontimes.com/entertainment/20070422-111846-8128r.htm Taking Names, Washington Times, April 23, 2007] ] [ [http://blogs.chron.com/whitehouse/archives/2007/04/saturday_night_1.html Julie Mason, News Watch: The White House blog, Houston Chronicle, April 22, 2007] ] [ [http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2007/04/22/celeb-watching-at-the-correspondents-dinner/ Ashley Parker, Celeb-Watching at the Correspondents Dinner, The Caucus blog, New York Times, April 22, 2007] ] [ [http://www.examiner.com/a-689140~Yeas___Nays__Monday__Apr__23.html Jeff Dufour and Patrick Gavin, Yeas & Nays, The (Washington) Examiner, April 23, 2007] ]

Timeline of WHCD Performances

1945 dinner

Performers included Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Jimmy Durante, Fanny Brice and Danny Kaye.

1969 dinner

President Richard Nixon personally requested the Disneyland Golden Horseshoe Revue.

1975 dinner

The dinner featured Bob Hope as emcee and Chevy Chase. [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4188/is_20061227/ai_n17077415 Humor played big role in Ford's persona] , a December 2006 "Deseret News" article via findarticles.com] When President Ford rose to speak, he "accidentally" caught a tablecloth in his trousers, causing silverware to fall in Chase's lap. He also pretended to trip as he approached the podium, flinging pages he was carrying into the audience—he then began his speech with "Good evening. I'm Gerald Ford and you're not" (a reference to Chase's catchphrase from "Weekend Update").

1985 dinner

Rich Little and President Ronald Reagan in a dual press conference skit.

1988 dinner

Yakov Smirnoff [ [http://www.reagan.utexas.edu/archives/speeches/1988/042188d.htm Remarks at the Annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner] , from the website of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library]

1993 dinner

Elayne Boosler

1994 dinner

Al Franken [ [http://home.hawaii.rr.com/snlcn/franken/whcd2.html Al Franken's 1994 speech] , from the website of a Franken fan]

1995 dinner

Conan O'Brien

1996 dinner

Al Franken, Don Imus

1997 dinner

Jon Stewart

1998 dinner

Ray Romano

1999 dinner

Aretha Franklin, entertainment (NBC's Brian Williams in skit)

2000 dinner

Outgoing President Bill Clinton mocked himself in the short film "President Clinton: Final Days", which depicted him as a lonely man closing down a nearly-deserted White House, riding a bicycle, and learning about the Internet with the help of actor Mike Maronna as his character "Stuart".

2001 dinner

Darrell Hammond and "Survivor" spoof

2002 dinner

Drew Carey (singer Ozzy Osbourne also attended)

2003 dinner

Ray Charles, entertainment

2004 dinner

Jay Leno

2005 dinner

Cedric the Entertainer, plus some jokes by First Lady Laura Bush.

2006 dinner

The 2006 dinner attracted substantial media attention due to the performance of US President George W. Bush and celebrity impersonator, Steve Bridges, with Bridges mimicking Bush during his speech, acting as his inner thoughts. This performance involved numerous satires of Bushisms, such as pronouncing "nuclear proliferation" as "nukilar proliberation".. [{http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=BDPAUi3VPSo] ] President Bush later commented at the end of this performance that the undergrounding rationale behind this performance for him was that, as his predecessors would know, "it is really important to be on the laughs in this job" (presidency of the United States). [{http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=BDPAUi3VPSo] ]

Another key event at this dinner was featured speaker Stephen Colbert's satire of a right-wing cable television pundit. [google video|-4973617448770513925|2006 White House Correspondents dinner] Several of Bush's aides and supporters walked out during Colbert's speech, and one former aide said that the President had "that look that he's ready to blow." [ [http://www.usnews.com/usnews/news/articles/060501/1whwatch.htm Inside Washington: Skewering comedy skit angers Bush and aides - US News and World Report ] ]

2007 dinner

The 2007 dinner took place on April 21, 2007. Entertainment was provided by impersonator Rich Little, with David Letterman appearing by video with a Top 10 list of "favorite George W. Bush moments." [ [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003574772 Bush Doesn't Joke at WHCA Dinner Due to Virginia Tech Killings—But Rich Little Says 'Nuts'] , an "Editor & Publisher" article]

The choice of Little, following controversy over Stephen Colbert's biting routine the previous year, itself drew controversy. [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003575828 Joe Strupp, "WHCA Prez Defends Dinner Amid Criticism Of 'Coziness' and Rich Little", Editor and Publisher, April 24, 2007] ] Little's appearance was slammed by critics, included several jokes and impersonations that drew little or no laughter, and others considered racy for a black-tie banquet crowd. ] In his opening speech before the comedic routine, he insulted Stephen Colbert's performance from the year before and tried to deflect the lack of laughter from his own audience by saying "and you thought Colbert was bad." He appeared ill-prepared with little new material and numerous decades-old references. ]

Among the guests from the entertainment world at the dinner was Sanjaya Malakar, one of the contestants on American Idol, invited by People Magazine. [ [http://www.examiner.com/a-683959~Sanjaya_to_attend_Correspondents__dinner.html Sanjaya to attend Correspondents' dinner] ] . Malakar was popular at the dinner and was even prompted for an autograph by New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. [ [http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20036187,00.html Sanjaya's a Hit at White House Correspondents' Dinner] ]

2008 dinner

In response to widespread criticism due to entertainer Rich Little's poorly-received performance at the 2007 dinner, WHCA president-elect Ann Compton has said that while "there is no entertainment that is perfect," choices of future entertainers will not be made "to please a presidential staff, [or] to be politically correct." ]

The entertainer this year was Scottish-American comedian Craig Ferguson, host of "The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson".

The guests included Crystle Stewart: Miss USA 2008, Rob Lowe, Lee Greenwood, Jenny McCarthy, Eric Dane, Jonas Brothers, and Michael Johns from the seventh season of "American Idol". [ [http://www.missusa.com/missusa/year-picts/04.26.08-b.html Miss USA®: Miss USA 2008 ] ]

ee also

* Gridiron Club
* National Press Club
* Radio and Television Correspondents' Association

References

[ [http://www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/search/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003683191 New White House Correspondents' Site Offers Dinner Clips by Joe Strupp,December 11, 2007 ] ]

External links

* [http://www.whca.net/ White House Correspondents' Association]


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