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The Latest: Star buzz on Bee red carpet supports free press

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/29/2017

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on the White House Correspondents' Association dinner and the competing event organized by late-night TV star Samantha Bee (all times EDT):

2:50 p.m.

On a sweltering Washington spring day, several TV stars who walked the red carpet to Samantha Bee's "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" have homed in on a key reason they were there: To support freedom of the press. They say they feel press freedom has been under attack since President Donald Trump took office 100 days ago.

Actor Matt Walsh played press secretary Mike McClintock on the HBO political comedy "Veep." He says: "Administrations have been hostile to the media before. But this one is particularly isolating, or singling out, the retailers of media that they like."

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12:55 p.m.

Comedian Samantha Bee says she feels "the press is under assault" in the United States.

The host of her namesake show on TBS says she's contributing proceeds from her "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner" event on Saturday to the Committee to Protect Journalists because it "seemed very logical."

Bee tells The Associated Press in an interview: "We're doing an event that celebrates the freedom of the press. We care deeply about it. For God's sake, we could not do our show if things were more restricted. So, boy, nobody needs press freedom more than we do."

Her event in Washington comes hours before the traditional White House Correspondents' Association dinner. She frequently targets President Donald Trump, but he's holding a rally Saturday instead of attending the WHCA dinner.

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11:25 a.m.

Washington's most glitzy "nerd prom" is about to get overshadowed.

Late-night TV star Samantha Bee has organized the first "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner." It's a tongue-in-cheek play off the annual event from the White House Correspondents' Association that's traditionally drawn the president, journalists and — in recent years — celebrities.

But this year President Donald Trump is skipping the dinner on what is his 100th day in office. He'll be in Pennsylvania later Saturday for a rally.

Bee's event is to air at 10 p.m. on TBS. That's just after C-SPAN is to begin coverage of the correspondents' dinner — where the master of ceremonies is comedian Hasan Minhaj of "The Daily Show."

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2:35 a.m.

The annual gala dinner of the White House Correspondents' Association is taking place on Saturday night without its traditional star.

President Donald Trump has decided to skip the event — where he'd be a prime target of biting humor. Instead, he's planning to be in Pennsylvania for a rally.

In recent years, lots of celebrities have attended the dinner as guests of media outlets. That's not the case this year, and the gathering is focusing on the First Amendment and the crucial role of the press in democracy.

There will be an entertainer as master of ceremonies: Hasan Minhaj of "The Daily Show."

The last president to decline an invitation to the dinner was Ronald Reagan in 1981 — when he was recovering from an assassination attempt.

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