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Samantha Bee plans counter White House Correspondents Dinner

Associated Press logo Associated Press 1/30/2017 By DAVID BAUDER, AP Television Writer
FILE - This May 18, 2016 file photo shows Samantha Bee at the Turner Network 2016 Upfronts in New York. Bee is throwing a counter-party to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner this spring. Scheduled for the same night as the real dinner, Bee said Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, she’ll welcome journalists and “non-irritating celebrities to the first annual Not the White House Correspondents Dinner. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File) © The Associated Press FILE - This May 18, 2016 file photo shows Samantha Bee at the Turner Network 2016 Upfronts in New York. Bee is throwing a counter-party to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner this spring. Scheduled for the same night as the real dinner, Bee said Monday, Jan. 30, 2017, she’ll welcome journalists and “non-irritating celebrities to the first annual Not the White House Correspondents Dinner. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — Comic Samantha Bee is throwing an alternative party to the annual White House Correspondents Dinner this spring.

Bee, who hosts TBS' "Full Frontal" weekly show, said she will welcome journalists and "non-irritating celebrities" to the first annual Not the White House Correspondents Dinner. It will be held on the same April night as that annual event, a fundraiser that mixes politicians, journalists and celebrities.

"It's a party for the nerds not invited to the real 'nerd prom,'" Bee said, using the real event's common nickname.

Bee said she and her staff thought of throwing their own party as they sat around depressed in the days following the November election. They wondered what form the White House Correspondents Dinner would take with the arrival of a new administration that says the media is the opposition.

"I had my gown all picked out," she said. "However, that didn't work out on several different levels."

Her event at Washington's Willard Hotel will be televised in some form on TBS, although plans are still being drawn up. All proceeds from the dinner will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists.

Bee said it wasn't her intention to damage the real White House Correspondents Dinner, which distributed $118,500 in scholarships and grants to needy students this year. Bee's show has been outspoken in its criticism of President Donald Trump, so her event may be a tough sell for journalists who don't want their objectivity questioned.

Asked to comment on Bee's plans, Jeff Mason, White House correspondent for Reuters and president of the WHCA, said the group "looks forward to hosting our annual dinner this year as we do every year to celebrate the First Amendment, reward some of the finest reporting of the past year and recognize promising young student journalists."

Besides celebrating deserving journalists, Bee said her event has a simple motivation.

"We're just trying to have a good time," she said. "We're looking to have a party and to have a smile on our faces."

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