“I hope not,” Woodward tells us. He’s not prepping any jokes, either. “I think having two old guys like Carl and me will be enough comedy.” Instead, he says, their talk will focus on the evening’s themes: “the First Amendment and the importance of aggressive but fair reporting.”
The White House correspondents’ dinner typically announces the evening’s talent months earlier, but this year’s dinner is far from routine. There will be no president on the dais and no White House staff in the ballroom (President Trump snubbed the dinner, and his aides are skipping it “in solidarity”), no celebrities (few famous folk seem eager to party in Trump’s Washington) and fewer parties.
The dinner’s organizers are framing the low-glitz tone of this year’s dinner as a triumphant refocus on what the dinner was always supposed to be about. “Having Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein at the dinner exemplifies everything our event is about — celebrating the First Amendment and highlighting really good journalism,” WHCA president Jeff Mason said.
Woodward and Bernstein didn’t sound like they were big fans of the annual black-tie gathering, describing it in their 1974 book, “All the President’s Men,” as “a formal, overdone, alcohol-saturated event, attended by all those with power — or pretensions to power — in the media and government.”