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Known for laughs, D.C. dinner to spotlight reporting risks

WASHINGTON (AP) — There will still be plenty of laughs, but the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner on Saturday will also 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 is among the 2,600 people attending the gala at the Washington Hilton.

Also attending is 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.

Brittney Griner, the WNBA star and Olympic gold medalist who was detained in Russia for nearly 10 months last year before her release in a prisoner swap, met with President Joe Biden as he arrived for the dinner. Griner is attending with her wife, Cherelle, as guests of CBS News.

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.

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris are seated on the stage along 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.

The Washington event returned last year after being sidelined by the pandemic in 2020 and 2021. Biden was the first president in six years to accept the invitation after Donald Trump shunned the event while in office.

The president took the opportunity last year to take aim at his many critics, including Republicans and the leader of their party: Trump. This year, Biden is coming not only as the commander in chief but as a presidential contender.

Copyright © 2023 The Washington Times, LLC.

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𝗖𝗿𝗲𝗱𝗶𝘁𝘀, 𝗖𝗼𝗽𝘆𝗿𝗶𝗴𝗵𝘁 & 𝗖𝗼𝘂𝗿𝘁𝗲𝘀𝘆:
𝗙𝗼𝗿 𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗰𝗼𝗺𝗽𝗹𝗮𝗶𝗻𝘁𝘀 𝗿𝗲𝗴𝗮𝗿𝗱𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗗𝗠𝗖𝗔,
𝗣𝗹𝗲𝗮𝘀𝗲 𝘀𝗲𝗻𝗱 𝘂𝘀 𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗺𝗮𝗶𝗹 𝗮𝘁