Nerd prom. It’s what the DC insiders call the annual White House Correspondents Dinner.
It’s where the national press mingles with Hollywood celebrities, presidential wannabes and top political insider movers-and-shakers.
My news idol Tom Brokaw hates it. He says there is more dignity at his “daughter’s junior prom” than at the Correspondents dinner.
But my good friend Steve Scully from C-SPAN, a former president of the White House Correspondents’ Association which puts on the event, says it’s a bit of history.
I agree with both.
Brokaw doesn’t believe the event makes the press corps look especially good. And he’s right. But Steve is correct that watching the Commander In Chief, year after year, attempt to put on a comedy act is priceless.
Steve told Variety that President Obama, who will make his final appearance tonight, “has a really keen comedic ear” and that his speechwriters start planning for the dinner “weeks and weeks” in advance. “He really puts a lot of time and effort into it,” said Steve. “For whoever succeeds him, he has set a pretty high standard.”
Obama’s roasting of Donald Trump at the 2011 dinner may be the reason why the billionaire is running for president today.
“That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature in the political world,” wrote the New York Times last month.
Trump, sitting the audience, was clearly humiliated by the experience. To the cheers and laughter of the audience, Obama ridiculed him for hosting The Apprentice and questioning his birth certificate (watch below).
If Trump wins the White House in November he’ll be the next speaker at the Correspondents dinner next spring.
It’s hard to even imagine.
The White House Correspondents Dinner airs live on C-SPAN tonight starting at 6 pm EST.