COVID KO’s Correspondents’ Dinner
WASHINGTON – Citing ongoing concerns over the lingering coronavirus pandemic, the White House Correspondents’ Association has decided to cancel its annual dinner this year.
“We have worked through any number of scenarios over the last several months, but to put it plainly: while improving rapidly, the COVID-19 landscape is just not at a place where we could make the necessary decisions to go ahead with such a large indoor event,” said association Executive Director Steven Thomma in an email to members.
Dinner or not, Thomma assured the email recipients, “we will spend the next few months celebrating and honoring the First Amendment, the remarkable journalism produced over the last year and the promising young reporters who will serve as the next generation in our ranks.”
Toward that end, the Correspondent’s Association will soon announce its annual awards for the best in presidential news coverage, and bestow the second annual Katharine Graham Award for Courage and Accountability of national significance.
In the coming weeks the association will be announcing the latest group of WHCA Scholarship winners from around the country, and it will hold a series of events to showcase the “best of journalism,” in part for the benefit of the scholarship recipients.
“Our top priority remains ensuring that journalists can continue to safely work from the White House and fulfill their vital role in keeping the public informed,” Thomma said.
The White House Correspondents’ Association was founded on Feb. 25, 1914, by journalists in response to an unfounded rumor that a United States congressional committee would select which journalists could attend press conferences of President Woodrow Wilson.
The association operates independently of the White House. Among the more notable issues handled by the WHCA are the credentialing process, access to the president and physical conditions in the White House press briefing rooms.
However, its most high-profile activity is the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, a Washington, D.C., tradition which is usually attended by the president, the vice president and covered by the news media.
Fifteen presidents have attended at least one WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924.
The dinner is traditionally held on the evening of the last Saturday in April at the Washington Hilton.
At present the association is planning for the return of the in-person dinner on April 30, 2022.