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White House Correspondents Association Cancels Annual Dinner for 2021

Variety logo Variety 4/14/2021 Cynthia Littleton
Hasan Minhaj wearing a suit and tie standing in front of a crowd © AP

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The White House Correspondents Association has tabled its annual dinner event for 2021, citing pandemic conditions and the inability to host a large indoor event.

The WHCA dinner, traditionally held in April, has become an annual media event that typically includes a performance by a top comedian and a good-humored address from the sitting U.S. President. Performers in recent years have included Michelle Wolf, Hasan Minhaj, Larry Wilmore, Cecily Strong and Joel McHale. The event struggled during the Trump years given President Donald Trump’s hostility to journalists and his refusal to attend.

“We have worked through any number of scenarios over the last several months, but to put it plainly: while improving rapidly, the COVID-19 landscape is just not at a place where we could make the necessary decisions to go ahead with such a large indoor event,” the organization said in a statement. “Dinner or not, we will spend the next few months celebrating and honoring the First Amendment, the remarkable journalism produced over the last year and the promising young reporters who will serve as the next generation in our ranks.”

The statement went on to say that the organization is still aiming to have the next WHCA dinner — the first of President Joe Biden’s administration — on April 30, 2022.

The organization noted that will soon announce its awards for the best in presidential news coverage, the second annual Katharine Graham Award for Courage and Accountability of national significance, the latest group of WHCA Scholarship winners and a series of events to “showcase the best of journalism.”

(Pictured: Comedian Hasan Minhaj at the 2017 WHCA dinner)

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