By John Feehery
We were late to the one party that we were invited to over the weekend, thanks to a Presidential motorcade that kept us waiting for 20 minutes and screwed up traffic for another 25 minutes.
The White House Correspondents Dinner is becoming more and more surreal here in the nation’s capitol. Back when I was a staff member for some prominent politicians, it was fairly routine for me to get invited to the swanky affair.
Of course, it wasn’t nearly as swanky back then, because Hollywood just didn’t want to turn out to see George W. Bush. The Clinton years were always interesting, especially after he got himself impeached for sleeping with an intern. You always got the impression that some of the gals in the audience thought they had a pretty good chance at a rendezvous with Mr. Clinton, if only they had a chance to get in his eyesight. And my guess is that they were right.
But the Bush years were a fairly contentious time with the Hollywood set, and it just didn’t have the buzz that the dinners have now.
Speaking of buzz, I missed the opportunity to see Goldie Hawn this weekend. Goldie Hawn? What the hell was she doing here? Who cares? I hear Diane Keaton was there too. How about Kirk Douglass while we are at it?
I was talking to a friend of mine who went to the dinner last night and he told me that he was almost certain that he saw a bunch of young stars because they had that look. But he couldn’t tell me for certain who any of them were, and I am pretty certain that I would be in the same boat, had I been there.
Had any of these stars showed up to lobby on behalf of intellectual property rights, they might have served some political purpose. But as it turns out, most of these “stars” were here because they couldn’t possibly turn down an invite from prominent news organizations.
And all of these new organizations invite all of these big time stars for one reason and one reason only: So they can shock and awe their advertisers, who they hope will buy more advertising space thanks to a chance to spend a few moments with some big star.
This dinner used to be a celebration of journalism. Now, it is a celebration of crass commercialism and the wonders of Botox. Most real working journalists can’t even get a seat at any of the tables. And their sources are lucky if they get a ticket to an after-party.
I had an opportunity to get a ticket from one news organization, but I would have had to purchase it and my appearance would have had to be approved by the big wigs in New York. Which is ironic, because the New York Times has boycotted this dinner now for at least 5 years (and maybe longer).
I turned down the kind offer (thanks for nothing), mostly because my wife had already planned a small dinner party with some friends and my son was having a sleep-over with one of their kids. I was asleep by 10:30 p.m., well before the President made his comments to his adoring fans.
Not that I am bitter, but I would have loved the opportunity to rub shoulders with Lindsey Lohan. I am sure she has a lot to say about public policy, maybe how we should adjust our drug laws. She has the kind of real-world experience that could be useful here inside the beltway.