WASHINGTON – There will still be plenty of laughs, but the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on Saturday also plans to take on the serious and solemn role of journalism in a democracy.
This year’s dinner occurs as Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich has been imprisoned in Russia. He was detained in March and charged with spying, despite strong denials from his employer and the U.S. government. His family will be among the 2,600 people attending the gala at the Washington Hilton.
Also attending will be Debra Tice, the mother of Austin Tice, who has not been heard from since disappearing at a checkpoint in Syria in 2012. U.S. officials say they operate under the assumption that he is alive and are working to try to bring him home.
“They are among hundreds of journalists around the world who are wrongfully detained for the simple act of doing journalism — which is not a crime,” said Tamara Keith, a White House correspondent for NPR and the association’s president.
Actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is expected to open the dinner with a pre-taped video about the importance of a free and independent press.
President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will attend the dinner, with comedian Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” as the featured entertainer.
Wood gave a preview of where his jokes were headed, predicting that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis wasn’t likely to end his culture clashes or stop his feud with Disney just because of a few jibes. The comedian told CNN not to expect DeSantis to say, “’You know what, man, you’re right. Go ahead and put black history back in them books.’ … He’s fighting Mickey Mouse. You can’t change that person’s mind with a joke.”
The black tie dinner draws a wide array of celebrities and media moguls to Washington, with parties being held across the capital. Among those expected to attend the dinner are reality TV star Lisa Vanderpump and singer John Legend and his wife, Chrissy Teigen, the model and television personality.
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