Media carped that the dinner turned up the celebrity quotient instead of turning it down
The White House Correspondents’ Association may have said it was going to turn down the celebrity quotient for this year's dinner, but the media said it turned up the thermostat instead of turning it down.
They may have disagreed about Conan O'Brien‘s performance as headliner and whether he was as funny as President Obama, but there was little disagreement about the celebrities in attendance.
“White House Correspondents Dinner Feeds on Star Power,” headlined The Washington Post's report on the dinner from Joel Achenbach and Amy Argetsinger. The report said the dinner “showed new evidence of being completely overrun by red-carpet-posing actors, singers, sports superstars, models and other outsiders who couldn't possibly name the ranking Democrat of the House Ways and Means Committee, much less its chairman.”
The paper's Mark Berman in a blog post, meanwhile said O'Brien did “a largely tepid routine that didn't particularly wow the crowd or this viewer.
The Daily Beast, whose editor Tina Brown brought some of the Hollywood stars, focused on O'Brien, with Washington Bureau Chief Howard Kurtz tweeting out criticisms.
“Conan has high joke count but under 50 pct hit-to-miss ratio,” wrote Kurtz in one Tweet posted on The Daily Beast's website.
“Conan funny but he had his share of clunkers. High energy, though,” Kurtz said in another.
At Breitbart.com, a Web site for conservatives, reporter Ben Shapiro, suggested O'Brien demonstrated “the fearless comedic chops that landed him at TBS instead of NBC.”
“While 90 million Americans remain outside the workforce and 47 million remain on foodstamps, the politicians and the media that keep them in power toasted and roasted each other with aplomb,” he wrote. He added the dinner “features ultra-wealthy journalists hobnobbing with the tuxedo-clad politicians they are supposed to hold accountable.”
The New York Daily News described President Obama as “almost gleeful” as he poked fun at CNN's coverage of the Boston bombings. Reporter Rich Schapiro wrote that the president as playing the “comic-in-chief.” The paper asked its readers to rate whether Obama or O'Brien were funniest.
Meanwhile, Michael Scherer of Time focused on the dinner's role in Washington's reporters long quest to be seen as cool.
“We are a sorry lot, us D.C. dwellers. Not sexy enough for Los Angeles, we settle for the pancake makeup of a cable news studio. Not rich enough for New York, we inflate our importance with proximity to political power,” he wrote.
“These truths are self-evident, but we still try to keep up appearances. It's bad for business to admit you are a pinhead. So each year, nearly 3,000 Beltway tribe members and their guests gather at the Washington Hilton … and pretend for a night that we actually belong to a cool crowd, a hip scene, an exclusive network of movers and shakers that everyone wants to join.”
Sarah Palin, the former GOP vice presidential candidate, offered her own criticism of the dinner both on Twitter and on her Facebook page.
“Yuk it up media and pols. While America is buried in taxes and a fight for our rights, the permanent political class in DC dresses up and has a prom to make fun of themselves. No need for that, we get the real joke,” she wrote on her Facebook page.
Celebrities were more praiseworthy.
Watch the "House of Cards" spoof shown at the dinner below.