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Ditching the WHCA Dinner Because of Trump? Congrats on Growing Half a Spine!

The dinner was a moral calamity before him, and it will be a moral calamity after him.

The 2015 dinner. Photograph by Dan Swartz.

Vanity Fair and the New Yorker won’t throw parties around the White House Correspondents’ Association’s dinner this year. Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter summed up his reasons for Michael M. Grynbaum and Katie Rogers of the New York Times, saying he intends to go fishing in Connecticut instead:

 “Trump,” Mr. Carter replied, “and the fish.”

It’s a good start (and a quote I’ll cherish for decades). But as I’ve argued before, the dinner was a moral calamity before Trump, and it would be the same disaster if Hillary Clinton had won. Members of a respectable press should not fête themselves while plucking hors d’oeuvres from the same trays as the people they’re supposed to be covering.

Put another way, you’re supposed to introduce government officials to accountability, not your editor.

BuzzFeed and Samantha Bee are planning alternative celebrations, but this solution perpetuates the problem in a different venue. You’re not doing this job to attend splendid dinners, to be around people you agree with, to dance while Karl Rove raps, to yuk it up with officials who led our country into a bogus war or those looking for new and surprising countries to alienate.

If you want a party, have one with friends and family. Those are genuine and you get to leave them without feeling hollow inside. You don’t need brands, bosses, sources, or celebrities to be around people who actually care about you. Now, hang up your snazzy clothes and get back to work.

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Senior editor

Andrew Beaujon joined Washingtonian in late 2014. He was previously with the Poynter Institute, TBD.com, and Washington City Paper. His book A Bigger Field Awaits Us: The Scottish Soccer Team That Fought the Great War was published in 2018. He lives in Del Ray.