The White House Correspondents’ Dinner Is Everything People Hate in Washington – Trust Me
The only thing Washington loves more than dressing up for the White House Correspondents’ Dinner is talking about “abomination” this same dinner is. The event that is known, somewhat sickeningly, as “Nerd Prom” among insiders is a “incestuous“Slobber-fest, those self-hating guests will tell you.
They’re likely to say this as a tuxedoed waiter from the Washington Hilton hands them their third glass of fourth-rate prosecco; or as they demand a selfie with a C-list celebrity or member of the administration whom they usually ask confrontational questions. If this was WWE wrestling, this would be Washington’s chance to break kayfabe.
But that’s another reason why people find this whole thing so revolting. He reveals that while reporters can interfere with the cameras by delivering a barrage of questions to the White House press secretary, every one of them – from the lowliest questioner to CNN’s Jim Acosta throwing his questions deservedly indignant week after week at Jen Psaki – are all in on the joke. The whole Washington Press Corps is indeed a stage and we are only actors; except that we often play American citizens. No wonder they hate us so much.
Many of us Washington Press Corps people spend long hours away from home, working hard. We rarely have a social life due to the 24 hour news cycle. I literally walked out on a date before because I had to edit an article by a former senator. On top of that, we often try to stretch our dry cleaning bills (DC has a dress code, you know). Why shouldn’t we be allowed to let loose a bit, to revel in the swamp that has existed since time immemorial? If you look at it from this perspective, you too might be tempted to continue.
So if you want to be a swamp creature, here’s what to know about the Washington festivities.
Above all, as much as Joe Biden wanted to “show the country that we are overcoming this pandemic” and that participants had to show that they were vaccinated and boosted, the application that we had to download on our phones was incredibly cumbersome. It took me the better part of an hour to download the app, upload my vaccination status and upload my negative test status.
Likewise, all people had to do was upload a photo of a negative rapid antigen Covid-19 test without providing photographic evidence that we actually took it or even recording the test. Someone could very easily have asked someone else to take a negative test for them, even if they were positive, and upload it. I didn’t realize it until I went across town to get a PCR test that day and was afraid I wouldn’t make it back in time, only to learn that I needed a rapid antigen test instead.
Second, the dinner itself is a bit overrated. I tend to prefer Capitol Hill to the other end of Pennsylvania Avenue. That being said, nothing appeals to me less than eating a reheated dinner, having to rent a tuxedo, and then having to wait for the president to walk in and out in public captive.
Pre-dinner cocktails and after-parties? Count on me. They tend to have a better spread, sometimes an open bar, and are generally less restrictive. You also get the chance to mingle more with people. It was at a pre-party hosted by the Qatar Embassy in the US Institute of Peace building in 2019 where I met Sean Spicer – who seemed a bit tipsy – while my friend and I got to taste the fantastic baklava that was served.
I introduced another friend who had studied abroad in Germany to one of Bloomberg’s parties in 2018 and she ended up chatting with Trump’s ambassador to Germany. They ended up sharing a few jokes, much to my surprise. I headed over to the broadcast that former Mayor Mike generously provided while they exchanged pleasantries, and it was worth every penny.
As well? Guys, you can skip the tux unless you’re going to dinner. A black suit with a nice tie is more than enough. Just shine your shoes the same day and be sure to let women who have spent hours, unlike us, know if they have lipstick in their teeth, and you should be fine. And don’t bother celebrities too much, especially if you barely know who they are.
If you follow these rules, you probably won’t have to feel too guilty for being a filthy swamp creature that’s the enemy of the people. So be sure to hire your best outfit, put on your comfiest shoes, and I’ll see you at an embassy buffet.