Apr 27, 2022 - Things to Do

Hey, I'm new here: Jack Shafer on the Correspondents’ Dinner

Illustration of a lanyard attached to a card in the shape of a speech bubble.

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

👋🏾 Hi, it’s Paige.

As the Axios D.C. team’s resident newbie, I’ve got a lot of unanswered questions about my new town. 

  • And I know I’m not the only transplant around here. 

“Hey, I’m new here'' is a new series where I’ll ask a savvy, opinionated local to answer a question about a Washington folkway, ritual, or quirk.

To kick off the series, we reached out to Jack Shafer, Politico’s senior media writer.

The question: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner (aka Nerd Prom) is a thing again this year. And lots of people at work are talking about it. I haven’t scored an invite … Should I care? 

Shafer’s take: “Whether you're new to Washington or have lived here since the Bullets won the NBA championship, you should never attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner or feel bad about missing it unless you're a journalist. 

  • “Accountants, short-order cooks, dentists, plumbers, taxidermists, and other working Americans would only be disappointed by an event whose high point is hanging out with tuxedoed and gowned journos, government officials, lobbyists, and the few random celebrities who attend. I suppose that students of sociology would get a kick out of it, too, as they observe the displays of status and class rank in real-time. 

“But those of you who work for the Fourth Estate should plan on going at least once just for the plentiful drinks, the after-event parties, and the hangover. You'll see your friends, develop a couple of sources, and have a few laughs at the expense of other people.

  • "Watching the WHCA dinner on C-SPAN instead of attending it is like the difference between watching an orgy on the web as opposed to participating in one. Anyone with an abiding interest in the virtual thing should try the literal thing at least once.”

Got a burning question about Washington you want me to get answered? Reply to this email.

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