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White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2014

May 4, 2014

Full coverage from the speeches, parties and red carpet from the Post’s Style reporters.

  • Cara Kelly
  • ·

Thomson Reuters has come to fill a grand need if ever there was one on White House Correspondents’ weekend. Food, coffee, champagne — in that order. The official winding down has begun, but a hundred or so beleaguered and blurry-eyed survivors of the weekend ascended to the rooftop of the Hay-Adams Hotel on Sunday morning for one last glass of bubbly and some much needed sustenance.

“We haven’t eaten in like 30 hours,” said Stephanie J. Block while standing in line for shrimp cocktail and bagels with husband Sebastian Arcelus, who plays Lucas Goodwin on Netflix’s “House of Cards.” Block said the couple would barely get 50 feet into a party before fans approached to talk favorite Washington-on-TV shows.

“It’s where the fakers meet the shakers,” Arcelus joked. During this unique weekend, awestruck goes both ways. “Suddenly you find yourself talking to the head of infectious disease at the National Institutes of Health, people doing really important things.”

And so the celeb-journo-politico mixture continued for a few more hours before everyone decamped to their corners until next year. Madeline Stowe of ABC’s “Revenge” glided with all of her Victoria Grayson poise through trios of Foreign Affairs and National Journal staffers. Fox’s Jennifer Griffin worked the room, while Darren Criss of “Glee” chatted with other twenty-somethings who could as easily have been television extras as young reporters.

“I kicked someone at Buzzfeed last night” one young journo admitted. Was it as rowdy as last year? Not quite, but “we had a drunk friend try to get in several times before we had to tell him to go home.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Calif.) said this was his only event of the weekend — the only one his five-year-old had condoned. ”If this is for nerds,” he said, “then I fit right in.”

The brunch, with its mellow vibe and open wrap-around terraces overlooking the White House, has become a favorite event of many looking for a relaxed setting to exchange weekend war stories – and coat empty bellies with some hardy food.

Top Chef’s Spike Mendelsohn was wrapping up a jam-packed couple of days. The “Good Stuff” owner had somehow fit in a concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion between The Hill, Google/Netflix and Funny or Die parties Friday night and MSNBC on Saturday.

“People should stop hating” he said about the hyper-critical attitude that has come with the explosion of events surrounding the correspondents’ dinner. “People should feel lucky to have such an amazing event. Less complaining and just enjoy.”

He served one of the most popular dishes of the brunch — a black and white shake — a go-to for his regular customer, Secretary of State John Kerry. But the brunch has become a favorite event of Mendelsohn’s for another reason.

“It means its almost over.”

  • Roxanne Roberts
  • ·

And so, the recovery. At Politico’s Sunday brunch in Georgetown, hundreds of guests packed under an Indian-themed garden tent for one last hurrah.

But a comfortable hurrah: flats instead of heels, glasses instead of contact lenses.

The mood was expansive as “Today” anchor Savannah Guthrie and new husband Mike Feldman showed off their baby bump.

“You have to embrace the bump,” said Guthrie, who is six months pregnant. “In a way, it’s liberating.”

That meant OJ instead of mimosa, the ability to scarf down warm mini-donuts instead of carrot sticks, and wearing comfy clothes — although she did wear stilettos to the Vanity Fair after-party Saturday night. By 2:30 a.m., “I will tell you I had serious heel regret.”

And yet, they were here, along with Robert De Niro, Arianna Huffington, Chris Wallace, Andrea Mitchell, Tim Tebow, Wolf Blitzer and Catherine Reynolds.

The end of the party? Not quite.

“I wasn’t going to have another drink this week,” said White house social secretary Jeremy Bernard. “Then I realized tomorrow is Cinco de Mayo.”

  • Amy Joyce
  • ·

This weekend was probably the most commercialized White House Correspondents’ Dinner yet. Sunday morning was no different: Sprinkles cupcakes in Georgetown played host to few kids and their parents, mostly media families. Sprinkles’ “Correspondents Tot Brunch” included mini cupcakes for the kids to decorate and ice, and Sprinkles T-shirts and pictures taken in front of a Sprinkles poster with Americana props: flags, headbands and necklaces.

The store, which features flavors such as Oooey Gooey Smores, chai latte and margarita (for the weeks surrounding Cinco de Mayo, of course), is a boutique bakery that first started in Beverly Hills.

Although organizers got 30 RSVPs, only four families showed up by noon — two of which were from The Washington Post. Maybe the D.C. folks can’t keep up after such a late night of partying. After all, we are nerds.

Shanna Wilson, Sprinkles Cupcakes’ publicist, said the company thought some of the reporters’ and politicians’ kids might want a festive event of their own this weekend.

“The theme is, ‘Why do the parents have all the fun?’” Wilson explained, adding that “cupcakes correspondents has a good ring to it.”

Although the attendance was lower than anticipated, Wilson said they expected that “people are going to be straggling in” after noon. And sure enough, a handful of parents and kids showed up after the first wave of cupcake decorators departed.

  • Veronica Toney
  • ·

  • Roxanne Roberts
  • ·

We spotted Joel McHale chatting with his pal Fred Armisen at the Vanity Fair after-party and decided to see what he thought of his somewhat controversial performance earlier in the evening.

Q: How do you think you did?

A: “Pass.”

Armisen: “He did great. I loved him.”

Q: So are you relaxed now?

A: “I need 12 more drinks to be relaxed.”

  • Roxanne Roberts
  • ·

The best thing about the Vanity Fair party? The A-list pairings unique to the most exclusive WHCD parties. What exactly was Attorney General Eric Holder talking about with Questlove?

“Afros,” said the musician.

Read more here.

Musician Questlove, from left, Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general, and Sharon Malone attend the Bloomberg Vanity Fair White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) dinner afterparty in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, May 3, 2014. The WHCA, celebrating its 100th anniversary, raises money for scholarships and honors the recipients of the organization's journalism awards. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg *** Local Caption *** Questlove; Eric Holder; Sharon Malone

 Questlove, from left, Eric Holder, U.S. attorney general, and Sharon Malone attend the Bloomberg Vanity Fair White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner after party in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Saturday, May 3, 2014.  (Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg)

  • Emily Yahr
  • ·

You can read the entire transcript, but here are the president’s best jokes from Saturday night.

“I usually start these dinners with a few self-deprecating jokes. After my stellar 2013, what can I possibly talk about?”

“I admit it — last year was rough…In 2008, my slogan was “Yes, we can.” In 2013, my slogan was “Control, alt, delete.”

“MSNBC is here. They are a little overwhelmed. They’ve never seen an audience this big before.”

“I am feeling sorry, believe it and not, for the Speaker of the House. These days, the house Republicans give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. Which means orange really is the new black.”

“Speaking of conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight. But they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News.”

“I’m just kidding. Let’ s face it, Fox, you’ ll miss me when I’m gone.  It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.”

“Michelle and I watched the Olympics, we cannot believe what these folks do. Death-defying feats. We haven’t seen somebody pull a 180 that fast since Rand Paul disinvited that disgruntled rancher from this dinner.”

“As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts, ‘Let me tell you something I know about the Negro.’ You don’ t really need to hear the rest of it. Just a tip for you. Don’ t start your sentence that way.”

  • Cara Kelly
  • ·
  • Lavanya Ramanathan
  • ·

Music by Outkast and Gwen Stefani shook the walls at the BuzzFeed and Facebook bash. But it didn’t have quite the same effect on the crowd at the night’s nose-thumbing blogger dinner, which proffered hardly any food, nowhere-to-be-found members of Pussy Riot and an unseemly amount of vodka mixed with soda. By 10, the party that so many journos at the Hilton seemed to brag about having invites to dragged like a wedding party on its last legs.

For the second straight year, BuzzFeed descended on Adams Morgan’s Jack Rose, selected, we were told, for its  “fratty” vibe. (Somewhat predictable for the cat-GIF peddlers.) But et tu, Facebook?  It was just one more example of Big Tech putting its corporate brand on the weekend. Asked why Facebook would host a party in D.C., Andy Stone, who handles policy communications for the site, told us Facebook has a “clear interest is what’s going on in Washington.” Yup, we saw the GIF photo booth and the Zoltar.

  • Stephanie Merry
  • ·

CNN’s Ben Stein commented that Joel McHale’s speech was too cruel. When it comes to the Chris Christie jokes, he may have had a point. But what does the public have to think?

  • Emily Yahr
  • ·

Chris Christie was the target of quite a few jokes — here they are.

President Obama: “Gridlock has gotten so bad in this town, you have to wonder: What did we do to piss off Chris Christie so bad?”

Joel McHale: “I promise that tonight will be both amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie’s presidential bid. I got a lot of these tonight, so buckle up, Gov. Christie — excuse me, extender buckle up.”

Joel McHale: “Speaking of digestive systems, Chris Christie is here. He is actually here, tonight. Wow, you, sir, are a glutton…for punishment. So, here we go.

Chris Christie, his administration canceled the train tunnel to Manhattan, they’re closing the Pulaski Skyway and they blocked the George Washington Bridge. Finally, a politician willing to stand up to America’ s commuters.

Governor, do you want bridge jokes or size jokes? ‘Cause I’ve got a bunch of both. I could go half and half. I know you like a combo platter. Now, I know, I get that. I am sorry for that joke, Govenor Christie. I  did not know I was going to tell it, but I take full responsibility for it. Whoever wrote it will be fired. But the buck stops here. So I will be a man and own up to it just as soon as I get to the bottom of how it happened because I was unaware it happened until just now. I am appointing a blue-ribbon commission of me to investigate the joke I just told. And if I find any wrongdoing on my part, I assure you I will be dealt with. I just looked into it. It turns out I am not responsible for it. Justice has been served.”

(looking at Christie) “He is going to kill me.”

  • Stephanie Merry
  • ·

CNN took a beating during both McHale’s and Obama’s speeches.

Wolf Blitzer wasn’t exactly cracking a smile during the whole affair.

And afterward, the CNN commentators gave McHale low marks. Ben Stein, clearly somewhat biased, even said McHale was “[something unprintable] mean.”

Here’s a rundown of some of the jokes:

  • Emily Yahr
  • ·

Did he succeed? Did he bomb? There were some divisive opinions.

  • Emily Yahr
  • ·

“I want to leave you tonight with a bit of a pep talk,” McHale, star of “Community,” said. “America has seen her share of challenges. But as my agents told me when I booked an NBC sitcom, ‘Hey — things could be worse.’”

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