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White House Correspondents' Association

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

White House Correspondents' Association
White House Correspondents' Association logo.jpg
FormationFebruary 25, 1914; 107 years ago (1914-02-25)
Legal status501(c)(3) nonprofit organization[1]
Coordinates38°53′52″N 77°03′18″W / 38.897776°N 77.055130°W / 38.897776; -77.055130
Zeke Miller (Associated Press)[2]
Steven Thomma[2]
Revenue (2015)
Expenses (2015)$311,090[3]
Employees (2015)

The White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) is an organization of journalists who cover the White House and the president of the United States. The WHCA was founded on February 25, 1914, by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a United States congressional committee would select which journalists could attend press conferences of President Woodrow Wilson.[4]

The WHCA operates independently of the White House. Among the more notable issues handled by the WHCA are the credentialing process, access to the president and physical conditions in the White House press briefing rooms.[5][6] Its most high-profile activity is the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, which is traditionally attended by the president and covered by the news media.

Association leadership, 2020-2021

The current leadership of the White House Correspondents' Association includes:[5]

Table of association presidents

White House press room

The WHCA is responsible for assigned seating in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in the White House.[12][13]

White House Correspondents' Dinner

The WHCA's annual dinner, begun in 1921,[14] has become a Washington, D.C., tradition, and is traditionally attended by the president and vice president. Fifteen presidents have attended at least one WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924.[4] The dinner is traditionally held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton.

Until 1962, the dinner was open only to men, even though WHCA's membership included women. At the urging of Helen Thomas, President John F. Kennedy refused to attend the dinner unless the ban on women was dropped.[15]

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.[4] Since 1983, the featured speaker has usually been a comedian, with the dinner taking on the form of a comedy roast of the president and his administration.

The dinner also funds scholarships for gifted students in college journalism programs.[16]

Many annual dinners have been cancelled or downsized due to deaths or political crises. The dinner was cancelled in 1930 due to the death of former president William Howard Taft; in 1942, following the United States' entry into World War II; and in 1951, over what President Harry S. Truman called the "uncertainty of the world situation".[17] In 1981, Ronald Reagan did not attend because he was recuperating after the attempted assassination the previous month, but he did phone in and told a joke about the shooting.[18]

During his presidency, Donald Trump did not attend the dinners in 2017, 2018, and 2019.[19] Trump indicated that he might attend in 2019 since this dinner did not feature a comedian as the featured speaker.[20] However, on April 5, 2019, he announced that he again would not attend, calling the dinner "so boring, and so negative," instead hosting a political rally that evening in Wisconsin.[21][22] On April 22, Trump ordered a boycott of the dinner, with White House Cabinet secretary Bill McGinley, who oversees the cabinet agencies for the president, assembling the agencies' chiefs of staff to issue a directive that members of the administration not attend.[23][24] However, some members of the administration attended pre- and post- dinner parties.[25]

Dinner criticisms

The WHCD has been increasingly criticized as an example of the coziness between the White House press corps and the administration.[26][27] The dinner has typically included a skit, either live or videotaped, by the sitting U.S. president in which he mocks himself, for the amusement of the press corps.[26] The press corps, in turn, hobnobs with administration officials, even those who are unpopular and are not regularly cooperative with the press.[26] Increasing scrutiny by bloggers has contributed to added public focus on this friendliness.[26]

After the 2007 dinner, New York Times columnist Frank Rich implied that the Times would no longer participate in the dinners.[28] Rich wrote that the dinner had become "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".[28]

Other criticism has focused on the amount of money actually raised for scholarships, which has decreased over the past few years.[16]

The dinners have drawn increasing public attention, and the guest list grows "more Hollywood".[6] 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".[6] This has led to an atmosphere of coming to the event only to "see and be seen".[6] 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.[29][30][31]

The public airings of the controversies around the dinner from the mid-2000s onward gradually focused concern about the nature of the event.[32] While interest in the event from entertainers, journalists, and political figures was high during the Obama administration, by the period of the Trump administration, interest gradually slowed in attending, especially after President Trump announced he would not attend, nor his staff.[33] Business related to the weekend event slowed considerably, including at hotels, high-end restaurants, salons, caterers, and limo companies During the Trump administration, some media companies stopped hosting parties, while other of the roughly 25 events held during the three-day period gained more prominence as signs of social status.[32] By 2019, the dinner and associated parties had returned somewhat to their previous nature as networking and media functions, with packed houses of media industry employees and Washington political figures.[25]

List of dinners

Date Performer(s) Notes
1944 Bob Hope, Fritz Kreisler, Gracie Fields, Mexican tenor Pedro Vargas, Fred Waring, Elsie Janis, Ed Gardiner, Nan Merriman, Robert Merrill, and NBC musical director Frank Black with a 40-piece orchestra.[34]
1945 Frank Sinatra, Danny Thomas, Jimmy Durante, Fanny Brice, Danny Kaye, and Garry Moore shared hosting duties.[35]
1946 Ed Sullivan (host); featured performers included Herb Shriner, Señor Wences, Paul Draper, Larry Adler, and Sugar Chile Robinson, a child piano prodigy who was the first African American performer at the event.[36]
1953 Bob Hope[37]
1954 Milton Berle, The Four Step Brothers,[38] Jaye P. Morgan, The McGuire Sisters, and Irving Berlin performed. Berlin performed an original song, "I Still Like Ike," to honor President Eisenhower.[17]
1955 Jazz Musician Duke Ellington, singer Tennessee Ernie Ford, magician Channing Pollock[39]
1956 James Cagney emceed; Nat King Cole, Patti Page, and Dizzy Gillespie performed.[40]
1961 The Peiro Brothers (jugglers), Julie London, Dorothy Provine, violinist Mischa Elman, opera singer Jerome Hines[41]
1962 Peter Sellers, Gwen Verdon, Richard Goodman, and Benny Goodman shared hosting duties. Event opened to female correspondents for the first time.
1963 Merv Griffin emceed; Barbra Streisand performed.[42]
1964 Duke Ellington, the Smothers Brothers[17]
1968 Richard Pryor
1969 The Disneyland Golden Horseshoe Revue[43]
1970 George Carlin[44][45]
May 3, 1975 Danny Thomas and Marlo Thomas[46]
1976 Bob Hope emceed and Chevy Chase performed.[47] When President Ford rose to speak, he pretended to fumble, and began his speech with "Good evening. I'm Gerald Ford and you're not"—a reference to Chase's catchphrase from Saturday Night Live's Weekend Update.[47]
1983 Mark Russell[48]
1984 Rich Little[49]
1985 Mort Sahl[50]
April 17, 1986 Dick Cavett[51]
1987 Jay Leno[52]
April 21, 1988 Yakov Smirnoff[53]
1989 Jim Morris (Bush impersonator)[54] Garry Shandling made a surprise appearance.[55]
1990 Jim Morris[56]
1991 Sinbad[57]
1992 Paula Poundstone Poundstone was the first solo female host.[58]
May 1, 1993 Elayne Boosler[59][60] This was the first year that the dinner was televised on C-SPAN.
April 23, 1994 Al Franken[61][62]
April 29, 1995 Conan O'Brien
May 4, 1996 Al Franken[63][64]
April 26, 1997 Jon Stewart[65][66] Norm Macdonald delivered a Weekend Update parody.
April 25, 1998 Ray Romano
May 1, 1999 Aretha Franklin[67] NBC's Brian Williams performed a skit.
April 29, 2000 Jay Leno[68] President Bill Clinton also mocked himself in the short film President Clinton: The 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.
April 28, 2001 Darrell Hammond
May 4, 2002 Drew Carey[69]
April 26, 2003 Ray Charles President George W. Bush decided to eschew a comedian that year, given the recent invasion of Iraq.[70]
May 1, 2004 Jay Leno[52]
April 30, 2005 Cedric the Entertainer First Lady Laura Bush also performed some jokes.[71][72]
April 29, 2006 Stephen Colbert[73] Colbert performed while being in character of his television satire of a right-wing cable television pundit.[74] Colbert also screened a video featuring Helen Thomas. Several of President 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".[75] Steve Bridges also performed a Bush impersonation.[76]
April 21, 2007 Rich Little David Letterman appeared by video with a Top 10 list of "favorite George W. Bush moments".[77]
April 26, 2008 Craig Ferguson[78] Like his Late Late Show monologues, Ferguson appeared to go off script and started improvising new jokes. It was noted that President Bush had difficulty understanding Ferguson's Scottish accent.[79]
May 9, 2009 Wanda Sykes[80]
May 1, 2010 Jay Leno[81] Leno hosted for the fourth time, more than any other individual in the dinner's history.[82] Leno had been chosen several weeks before his controversial Tonight Show conflict,[83] and his use of recycled jokes was noted by critics.[84]
April 30, 2011 Seth Meyers[85][86][87] Both President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were seen laughing at Meyers' jokes about the government's apparent inability to track down Osama Bin Laden, even though they were a day away from the operation to assassinate him.

President Obama and Meyers also mocked then-Celebrity Apprentice host Donald Trump's role as the face of the birther movement. Trump would go on to be elected President of the United States five years later in the 2016 United States presidential election. Journalists that were present at the dinner say that being mocked by President Obama and Meyers led him to decide to run for President of the United States, but Trump would later deny this, saying that he had been considering a run for the Presidency for many years prior to the dinner.[88]

April 28, 2012 Jimmy Kimmel[89][90][91]
April 27, 2013 Conan O'Brien[92][93][94]
May 3, 2014 Joel McHale[95][96]
April 25, 2015 Cecily Strong[97][98] Keegan-Michael Key made a guest appearance as President Obama's "anger translator",[99] Luther, a recurring character from the Comedy Central show Key & Peele.[100]
April 30, 2016 Larry Wilmore[101][102] Wilmore delivered a controversial, searing routine targeting the president, elite media, lobbyists, politicians, and celebrities. At the end of the speech, Wilmore ended his set by thanking President Obama for having been the country's first black President and finished his speech by calling him "my nigga" on live television. This remark sparked controversy among the media, with some calling it disrespectful.[103]
April 29, 2017 Hasan Minhaj[104][105] President Donald Trump did not attend the dinner.[106][107] The last time a sitting president did not attend in person was Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering from an assassination attempt.[18]

The Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein presented awards and spoke about the importance of the First Amendment.[107][108]

April 28, 2018 Michelle Wolf[109][110] President Trump did not attend the dinner for the second consecutive year.[111] Instead, he sent his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.[112]

Several attendees walked out in reaction to Wolf's "brutal" comments, including "intense criticism of (Huckabee's) physical appearance".[113]

Wolf received both praise and criticism for her monologue. The association released a rare statement regarding the monologue.[114][115][116] After the dinner, newspaper The Hill informed the WHCA that it would no longer participate in the event, saying, "In short, there’s simply no reason for us to participate in something that casts our profession in a poor light. Major changes are needed to the annual event."[117][118]

April 27, 2019 Ron Chernow[119][120] The WHCA chose historian Ron Chernow as the featured speaker instead of a comedian.[119] President Trump did not attend the dinner for the third consecutive year.[121] Additionally, Trump ordered some of his staff and administration members to boycott the dinner.[122]
2020 N/A The dinner was originally scheduled for April 25, 2020, with comedian Kenan Thompson hosting and political entertainer and former WHCD host Hasan Minhaj as the featured entertainment.[123][124] On March 22 the dinner was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States, without naming a substitute date.[125] On April 13 a new date of August 29 was announced.[126]

On June 23 WHCA President Jonathan Karl announced that the dinner itself would be canceled, but that the WHCA was working on a virtual presentation format to honor award winners and scholarship recipients.[127][123] On August 14 Hasan Minhaj spoke privately via Zoom with the WHCA 2020 scholarship recipients, who also attended a private online panel discussion by three veteran Washington political reporters that day.[128][129]

2021 N/A On April 14, 2021, WHCA executive director Steven Thomma announced that improvements in the pandemic situation had not been sufficient to allow the association to proceed with a large indoor event, and that no dinner would be held in 2021.[130] However, the association still intended to select recipients for its annual journalism awards and student scholarships, and announced that it planned to go ahead with the dinner the following year, on April 30, 2022.[130]



The Merriman Smith Memorial Award

Awarded for outstanding examples of deadline reporting.[131]

Year Recipient Distinction Employer Article / Show Notes & Ref
2000 Gary Nurenberg Broadcast KTLA-Tribune Broadcasting [132]
Jodi Enda Print Knight-Ridder Newspapers [132]
2001 Jim Angle Broadcast Fox News Channel [133]
Sandra Sobieraj Print Associated Press [133]
2002 Peter Maer Broadcast CBS News [134]
Ron Fournier Print Associated Press [134]
2003 Jim Angle Broadcast Fox News Channel [135]
David Sanger Print The New York Times [135]
2004 Mike Allen Print The Washington Post [136]
2005 Ron Fournier Print Associated Press [137]
Jackie Calmes Print The Wall Street Journal Honorable Mention[137]
2006 Terry Moran Broadcast ABC News [138]
Deb Riechmann Print Associated Press [138]
2007 Martha Raddatz Broadcast ABC News [139]
David Sanger Print The New York Times [139]
2008 Ed Henry Broadcast CNN [140]
Deb Riechmann Print Associated Press [140]
2009 David Greene Broadcast NPR [141]
Sandra Sobieraj Westfall Print People magazine [141]
2010 Jake Tapper Broadcast ABC News [142]
Ben Feller Print Associated Press [142]
2011 Jake Tapper Broadcast ABC News [143]
Dan Balz Print The Washington Post [143]
2012 Jake Tapper Broadcast ABC News [144]
Glenn Thrush, Carrie Budoff Brown, Manu Raju and John Bresnahan Print Politico "Excellence in presidential coverage under pressure" [144]
2013 Terry Morgan Broadcast ABC News [145]
Julie Pace Print Associated Press
2014 Peter Maer Broadcast CBS News "Sequestration" [146][147]
Peter Baker Print The New York Times "Obama Seeks Approval by Congress for Strike in Syria"
2015 Jim Avila Broadcast ABC News Cuba/Alan Gross [148][149]
Josh Lederman Print Associated Press Fence Jumper
2016 Norah O'Donnell Broadcast CBS News [150][151]
Matt Viser Print The Boston Globe
2017 Edward-Isaac Dovere Print Politico "How Obama set a trap for Raul Castro" [152]
2018 Evan Perez, Jim Sciutto, Jake Tapper and Carl Bernstein Broadcast CNN [153]
Josh Dawsey Print Politico
2019 Ed Henry Broadcast Fox News [154]
Josh Dawsey Print Washington Post
2020 Alan Cullison, Rebecca Ballhaus, and Dustin Volz Print The Wall Street Journal "Trump Repeatedly Pressed Ukraine to Investigate Biden’s Son" [155]
Broadcast CNN “FBI. Open the door.”

The Aldo Beckman Memorial Award

Awarded for journalistic excellence.[131]

Year Recipient Employer Ref
2000 Jeanne Cummings The Wall Street Journal [132]
2001 Steve Thomma Knight Ridder [133]
2002 Anne E. Kornblut The Boston Globe [134]
2003 Dana Milbank The Washington Post [135]
2004 David Sanger The New York Times [136]
2005 Susan Page USA Today [137]
2006 Carl Cannon National Journal [138]
2007 Kenneth T. Walsh U.S. News & World Report [139]
2008 Alexis Simendinger National Journal [140]
2009 Michael Abramowitz The Washington Post [141]
2010 Mark Knoller CBS News [142]
2011 Peter Baker The New York Times [143]
2012 Scott Wilson The Washington Post [144]
2013 Ryan Lizza The New Yorker [145]
2014 Glenn Thrush Politico [146][147]
Brianna Keilar CNN
2015 Peter Baker The New York Times [148][149]
2016 Carol Lee The Wall Street Journal [150][151]
2017 Greg Jaffe The Washington Post [156]
2018 Maggie Haberman The New York Times [153]
2019 McKay Coppins The Atlantic [157]
2020 Yamiche Alcindor PBS NewsHour [158]

The Edgar A. Poe Memorial Award

Awarded for excellence on a story of national or regional significance.[131]

Year Recipient Employer Notes & Ref
2000 Sam Roe The Toledo Blade [132]
2001 Elizabeth Marchak, Dave Davis, and Joan Mazzolini The Plain Dealer [133]
John Barry and Evan Thomas Newsweek Honorable Mention[133]
David Pace Associated Press Honorable Mention[133]
2002 Evan Thomas, Mark Hosenball, Martha Brant, and Roy Gutman Newsweek [134]
Staff The Seattle Times Honorable Mention[134]
Staff The Dayton Daily News Honorable Mention[134]
2003 Sean Naylor Army Times [135]
Staff South Florida Sun-Sentinel Honorable Mention[135]
Michael Berens Chicago Tribune Honorable Mention[135]
2004 Russell Corollo and Mei-ling Hopgood Dayton Daily News [136]
Christopher H. Schmitt and Edward T. Pound U.S. News & World Report Honorable Mention[136]
Michael Hudson Southern Exposure magazine Honorable Mention[136]
Warren P. Strobel and Jonathan S. Landy Knight Ridder Honorable Mention[136]
Rod Nordland and Michael Hirsh Newsweek Honorable Mention[136]
Sami Yousafzai, Ron Moreau, and Michael Hirsh Newsweek Honorable Mention[136]
Fareed Zakaria Newsweek Honorable Mention[136]
2005 Mark Fainaru-Wada and Lance Williams The San Francisco Chronicle [137]
Donald Barlett and James Steele Time magazine Honorable Mention[137]
2006 Marcus Stern and Jerry Kammer Copley News Service [138]
Staff Time magazine Honorable Mention[138]
Russell Carollo and Larry Kaplow Dayton Daily News Honorable Mention[138]
2007 Joan Ryan The San Francisco Chronicle [139]
2008 Paul Shukovsky, Tracy Johnson, and Daniel Lathrop Seattle Post-Intelligencer [140]
2009 Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong The Seattle Times [141]
2010 Suzanne Bohan and Sandy Kleffman Contra Costa Times, California [142]
2011 Michael Berens The Seattle Times [143]
2012 Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan Associated Press [144]
2013 Jim Morris, Chris Hamby, Ronnie Greene The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) Hard Labor [145]
2014 Megan Twohey Reuters "The Child Exchange: Inside America's Underground Market for Adopted Children," [146][147]
Chris Hamby, Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross The Center for Public Integrity (CPI) and ABC News "Breathless and Burdened: Dying from black lung, buried by law and medicine,"
2015 Gary Fields, John R. Emshwiller, Rob Barry and Coulter Jones Wall Street Journal "America's Rap Sheet" [148][149]
Carol A. Leonnig The Washington Post "Secret Service"
2016 Neela Banerjee, John Cushman Jr., David Hasemyer and Lisa Song InsideClimate News [150][151]
Terrence McCoy The Washington Post
2017 David Fahrenthold The Washington Post [156]
2018 Jason Szep, Peter Eisler, Tim Reid, Lisa Girion, Grant Smith and team Reuters "Shock Tactics" [153][159]
Norah O'Donnell CBS This Morning Sexual Assault in the Air Force Academy Honorable Mention[153][160]
Dan Diamond and Rachana Pradhan Politico Tom Price's Private Jet Travel Honorable Mention[153][161]

See also


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