Nerd Prom. That is what people outside the Beltway (and inside, to be fair) call the annual gathering of journalists who cover the happenings of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and its most conspicuous resident: The President of the United States. First held in 1921 (the organizing Association predating it by 7 years), the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner is a way to celebrate the group’s achievements, to inaugurate new officers and scholarship recipients, and to advocate for the interests of journalists and the First Amendment.
It would be difficult to organize a more high-profile event in Washington, DC. Typically attended by the president and a coterie of who’s who in media with their distinguished guests, the dinner is a highpoint of the Washington social calendar. It’s also a bastion of the Free Press – a veritable “we’re here and we’re watching” flag raised mere blocks from the White House. Since 1983, the dinner has often been punctuated with a comedic roast, offering attendees on both sides of the aisle a respite to chuckle apropos the current administration.
No stranger to controversy
A roast, however, may sometimes burn. The usual format has caused dust-ups over the years, straining relations between the press corps and an already leery administration. This year was no exception: Comedian Michelle Wolf delivered a searing monologue that, irrespective of political persuasion, could only be described as downright confrontational and impolite. The fallout has raised the possibility that Saturday’s edition of the nearly 100-year-old dinner could be the last of its kind, with years to come following a soberer program.
At Spey, we stay out of the politics, choosing instead to stay on the red carpet, where the District’s most fashionable are wrapped in exquisite textiles and jewels. Here, the gem of queens and queen of gems reigns supreme. Pearls, unlike some of the evening’s comments, are always appropriate.