Why a Legendary Washington Insider Dreads the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

After a career spent rallying ideologically mixed crowds on behalf of high-profile corporate clients, the Republican staffer-turned-PR professional fears Washington is too eager to return to bipartisan socializing as usual and, in his enthusiasm by breaking out of the social blockade, she is ignoring what she sees as the lingering rot at the heart of democracy.

“It’s not broken yet,” she says. “Their plus broken.”

“This is the first time this has happened in the post-Trump era, where it’s really a moral issue before the country,” Glover says of the corporate-sponsored dinner and parties in attendance, where for years reporters and advertisers have rallied. mixed with big shots from across the political spectrum. “The question is, can Washington normalize? In my brain and body it’s ‘I hope not’, because if it is, then we’re morally numb. On a weekend dedicated to press freedom, is it okay to raise a glass and toast with a seditious?

She is talking about people who pushed for, enabled, or benefited from a style of politics that destroys the very institutions that dinner is supposed to hold. After all, you can’t undermine the system and then embed yourself in it. And that others pretend that the dinner is a Big Top that covers all the centers of power in Washington, the falsity of the image irritates.

Among Washingtonians whose business involves working across party lines, Glover is unusual in his willingness to link his name to sentiment. But I heard similar sentiments from several people this week as I went through the rituals of checking party times and looking for errant twins, tasks that were interrupted by two years of pandemic cancellations and previously slowed by three years of relative planning. of restricted parties since the Trump administration largely boycotted the events.

Now, suddenly, the status quo ante is back. And while it’s the embrace of a pre-Covid normalcy that draws attention, witness the revived Gridiron Dinner become a super-spreader event, and the uproar over whether Joe Biden’s appearance at WHCA will put him at risk. , is the return of the pre-2016 version of Washington, the city of friendship of the party-hopping media elite, which is stirring up complicated emotions: Given what has happened since then, is it okay to go back to the old partisanship? -stops-when-the-drinking-starts? Can everyone come model?

Judging by the social calendar over the weekend, a sizable population of people seem to think the answer is: Hell yes!

This year’s festivities appear to be the most elaborate since the Obama years. Familiar stations of the cross, like the annual insider garden brunch at Katharine Graham’s former home in Georgetown, will pick up where they left off. Other classics from the pre-Trump era are coming back to life after a longer hiatus. After Trump’s election, Vanity Fair and Bloomberg pulled out of the exclusive after-party they traditionally hosted at the French ambassador’s residence. This year, the embassy soiree is back, now under the aegis of Paramount.

And there are new events on the calendar, too: a meeting for the Semafor news organization launched by former Bloomberg News chief Justin Smith and former New York Times media columnist Ben Smith, a meeting at the glitzy headquarters of Motion Picture on 16th Street. Association, a space that opened shortly before the pandemic.

Ironically, stricter attendance limits in the name of pandemic safety have increased the amount of maneuvering to gain access to events like the MPA, which is known for drawing Hollywood celebrities to DC “We’ve gotten so many unsolicited RSVPs from people who weren’t invited,” says Emily Lenzner, director of public affairs for the association. “I imagine the same thing is happening at the other parties. And I think, ‘How can you physically go to all these parties?'”

Of course, pretending to hate the WHCA leader is just as much a Beltway tradition as pretending to hate Washington itself. But what is remarkable about the topsy-turvy state of the capital in 2022 is the way long-standing outside criticism, that there is something unseemly about powerful people and journalistic vigilantes, all cavorting in a morally neutral environment, with corporate sponsors paying the bill, fits with the worries. from someone whose business depends on his inside connections like Glover.

Insider demos will also be a trap for the right-wing media, where the working assumption is that the media elite cuts their teeth on behalf of their Democratic friends, not just on behalf of business as usual.

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