Correspondents’ gala offers political normalcy despite COVID

WASHINGTON, April 30 / US: A lot of Washington is ready to celebrate like 2019, before the coronavirus, when the biggest danger at the annual White House Press Service Gala was the jokes that sparked many political feathers. The Associated Press (Associated Press) reported.

After the pandemic canceled the event in 2020 and 2021, the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner returns Saturday night, with Joe Biden as the first president to attend in six years after Donald Trump avoided it while in office.

Comedy is back, too, with “The Daily Show” presenter Trevor Noah as one of the headlines. Celebrities too: Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson are expected, and comedy studio Funny or Die is co-sponsoring the after-party. The event also attracts a large group of government officials and other dignitaries.

“Seeing the president of the United States coming back, and dinner coming back, I think that indicates more than a pause in the pandemic,” said Harold Holzer, author of Presidents Against the Press. “We are safe to talk to each other again.

“I think this relationship – even if it’s a one-night stand where jokes are exchanged and people make fun of others and each other – it’s a very healthy thing.”

It feels like a small amount of normalcy is returning to the nation’s capital, but it’s also a reminder that COVID-19 remains a threat. Vice President Kamala Harris has tested positive this week and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top coronavirus expert, will skip dinner “due to my individual assessment of my personal risk.”

That raised questions about whether the 79-year-old Biden should go. The boss will miss the meal and later come to the program. He plans to be masked when not talking.

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Biden recalled dinner during a speech this week about Russia’s war on Ukraine, saying, “I’ve always had respect for the press, but I can’t tell you how much respect I have when watching them in these areas come under fire.”

“Imagine if we didn’t get this information,” the president added. “It would be a different world.”

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden’s plan to attend “is in stark contrast to his predecessor, who did not question the legitimacy of the press almost daily, but never attended dinner.” Trump happily interrupted the event and sometimes called the media “the enemy of the people.”

After the recent Gridiron Club press dinner in Washington, dozens of attendees, including members of Congress, Biden’s Cabinet and journalists, have tested positive for COVID-19.

The White House stresses the abundance of the antiviral pill Baxlovid, which has been shown to reduce up to 90% of severe outcomes of the virus among those at high risk of infection. Still, Psaki said of Biden, “We want to be very clear that it’s possible for him to test positive for COVID, just like any American.”

That’s because the US is seeing a sharp rise in COVID cases from a highly contagious variant of omicron, with the number of confirmed infections rising to about 44,000 per day, up from 26,000 last month. Although well below the maximum of 800,000 cases per day nationwide during the peak of the Omicron wave earlier this year, the current statistics are likely to be understated given the increased availability of COVID-19 at-home tests that may go unreported. Report its findings to the health authorities.

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The White House Correspondents Association said it would order a same-day antigen test for dinner attendees even before the Gridiron outbreak. It has since added a vaccination requirement for those attending Saturday’s party, which capacity will exceed 2,600 fully booked.

Despite the recent wave of COVID-19 cases, deaths from the virus and hospitalizations are near or near the lowest levels of the epidemic, with the BA.2 variant proving to be less severe than previous virus strains. Just over 300 people in the US die every day from the virus, down from more than 2,600 a day earlier this year — with about 1,600 hospitalizations a day, down from a peak of more than 21,000 a day in January.

The Correspondents’ Dinner first began in 1921. Calvin Coolidge became the first president to attend three years later and all but Trump have attended since. Jimmy Carter and Richard Nixon chose not to attend their presidency every year, but Ronald Reagan, then recovering from an assassination attempt, missed the 1981 class – but was recalled from Camp David.

“The thing that I think this shows is restoring the health of the relationship,” said Holzer, director of the Roosevelt House Institute for Public Policy at Hunter College in New York. “It’s still prickly, there are still tense moments. But that’s okay.”

After the satire of comedian Michael Wolff sparked controversy in 2018, it appeared the following year, historian Ron Chernow. The celebrity comeback this time is reminiscent of President Barack Obama’s administration, when the likes of George Clooney, Charlize Theron, and Viola Davis attended.

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As Vice President in 2014, Biden appeared in a comedy video with HBO’s “Veep” star Julia Louis-Dreyfus, who laughed so hard at the Correspondents’ Dinner. The White House said the White House’s director of speech writing, Vinay Reddy, and veteran Biden adviser Mike Donilon, worked on Biden’s remarks this year, drawing on material from a variety of people inside and outside the government.

Psaki has already admitted to trying to lower expectations, saying that the speech was “not funny at all. I’m just kidding.” However, presidential attempts at humor can be challenging.

At the 2011 dinner, Obama mistook him — in his presence — an unabashed Trump over Trump’s bogus allegations about the then-president’s birth certificate. Obama concluded his speech by reflecting on Trump taking office one day, saying, “There is sure to be some change in the White House” as banquet hall screens flash a parody of the facade of 1600 Greater Pennsylvania Avenue fitted with the Trump logo, gold bars, digital clock and signage written on it. Hotel, casino, golf course, presidential suite.

This turned out to be prophetic, since Trump succeeded Obama of course — although the reforms he eventually brought to the presidency fell short of putting his name on the White House.


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