What it was like inside the Washington Hilton for WHCD 2017

Monday, May 1, 2017
Hasan Minhaj speaks on stage during the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday. Photo Credit:Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images
Inside the Washington Hilton: What it was really like at WHCD 2017

Trump Media Tour: He ends one interview with John Dickerson over wiretap Q, talks about the Civil War in another

Met Ball, Sans Ivanka?: The first daughter’s past looks, from 2012-2016

Kate Bennett

What the White House is Talking About:
Calendar reset for President Trump’s next 100 days. And so it goes. 

What the White House Press Corps is Talking About:
Trump shutting down John Dickerson when he started to press him on the president’s Obama wiretapping accusations. Interview over. 

Also, Trump inviting controversial Philippine President Duterte to the White House. 

And, the thing where Trump got the dates and facts wrong about the Civil War and Andrew Jackson. Yeah, that’s getting some play, too. 

Ivanka Trump “Crashes" Interview:
CBS This Morning set up a set in the East Room, going live for its broadcast. Vice President Pence dropped by, and so did Ivanka Trump, who “popped in" for a chat about how much she likes living in Washington. She said her family enjoys doing things around town — i.e. Jared Kushner taking 5-year-old Arabella to her first Nats game this weekend — and also copped to a late-night walk with her husband around the Mall last night. 

Image credit: @CBSThisMorning/Twitter

WHCD Weekend Wraps:
It was definitely without star power, but it still had all the nerdiness of years’ past. I went to a total of eight different parties and saw pretty much all the same people, which is fine. But the celebrity sightings were sparse and random: Matthew Modine, Mr. Wonderful from “Shark Tank," Ali Larter and Cameron from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off." He has a real name, but don’t we all just know him as Cameron?

For photographic evidence of how things really didn’t change that much in terms of crowds and attendance at parties, here’s a before of the annual Garden Brunch, thrown by Tammy Haddad and crew: 

And here it is, no joke, 20 minutes later: 
Images credit: Kate Bennett/CNN

Don’t ever change, DC. Or, do, that’s your call. 

The best party, naturally, was CNN’s own. The Hangover Brunch is a yearly “must," and this year I heard more than 900 people RSVP’d. The party was at Long View Gallery, and it was carnival-themed, with a sword swallower and popcorn and cotton candy and all the games and the things. Most importantly, there were plenty of COVER/LINE shout-outs, including custom pillows, one of which I stole because Hi, I’m Kate. 

Image credit: Kate Bennett/CNN

Also, fashion correction. Today in Playbook it said CNN’s Jeff Zucker was wearing sweatpants and a jumpsuit. Um, what? 

They need better spies. Or better fashion definitions? 

Here’s what he was wearing for reals: 

Image credit: Kate Bennett/CNN
Me and Hunter hit up the Buzzfeed after-party on Saturday night at The Brixton. Here’s us at the photo booth. I’m pretty sure I’m holding a Barbie. It was late, bear with me. 
Image credit: Hunter Schwarz/CNN

Tonight’s Met Ball, Sans Ivanka?:
Tonight in New York is the Vogue-sponsored Met Ball supporting the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute. It’s basically the only fashion event that matters every year. Tickets start at about $30,000 PER PERSON, and that’s only if you get an invitation; the guest list is overseen by Vogue’s Anna Wintour. For the past several years, Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump have attended, see below. These are her outfits from 2016 back to 2012. Which do you like best? Email me at coverlinekate@cnn.com. I like 2014—the chartreuse metallic strapless number.   

Image credit: all Larry Busacca/Getty Images

Even if you don’t like any of them, I still think it’s fair to say they’ve come a long way since 2010’s red carpet. 

Image credit: Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Happy Monday! 

Hunter Schwarz

What Washington is Talking About:
How their weekend went and dishing on all the hot gossip they heard.

What America is Talking About:
Ryan Seacrest will join Kelly Ripa as co-host of ABC’s “Live."

Rent is due.

Inside the Washington Hilton for WHCD 2017:
There were people holding pro-media signs outside the hotel, the red carpet had noticeably fewer celebrities, and honestly, the most famous non-journalist/pundit I saw was Rep. Devin Nunes, R-California. I posted some of what I saw on my Instagram here.

Image credit: @hunterschwarz/Instagram

Dinner guests received these magnetic First Amendment lapel pins.

Image credit: Hunter Schwarz

Without big celebrities, the focus was on journalism. And I’m sorry if I’m just really earnest sometimes but I found Carl Bernstein’s spiel on the human side of reporting inspiring and I loved that CNN’s guests this year were student journalists. I got to talk to them Friday about COVER/LINE and why the intersection of politics and pop culture is not only fun but important since pop culture is a major way people experience politics.

I didn’t know what to expect from Hasan Minhaj, but I thought for the most part, he was funny (his jokes about the media were my fav). He posted a thank you to the comedy writers he worked with for his set, and to Comedy Cellar in New York, who he said let him “run amok these past few weeks" in the lead-up to the dinner. He also posted a pic with American Urban Radio Networks White House correspondent and CNN contributor April Ryan, adding, “Keep giving ’em hell."

Image credit: @hisanminhaj/Instagram

Trump’s Counter-programming:
President Trump didn’t appear to miss the WHCD this year. It seemed to me the reality-star-and-WWE-Hall-of-Famer-turned-President was aware of the juxtaposition of him in a TV split screen alongside a comedian, and so HE PUT ON A SHOW. There were times when he reminded me of a pro wrestler trash-talking how his muscles are bigger than his opponents’. He boasted about the size of his crowd (“We really maxed out. We broke the all-time record for this arena. … and I don’t have a guitar, which is pretty tough, huh?"), and belittled the size of the New York Times print edition (“Pretty soon they’ll only be on the Internet. The paper’s getting smaller and smaller. You haven’t noticed? It’s starting to look like a comic book."). The crowd loved it, cheering and booing along.

Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

And like pro wrestling, Trump even made it seem like his media hatred is part performance. He hinted that he might attend the WHCD in 2018 (“Maybe next year we will make it more exciting for them in Washington and show up") and he promptly followed his media-bashing rally by sitting down for interviews with the media, as Kate mentioned above. Sam Bee Doesn’t Think There’s a Smug Liberal Problem:
A recent New York Times column argued that TBS’s Samantha Bee represents a phenomenon of our culture getting pulled to the left. A “smug liberal problem," if you will.

Bee responded Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union with Jake Tapper," saying she doesn’t think there is a “smug liberal problem." She called it “one person’s opinion."

Image credit: CNN

“I do the show for me and for people like me, and I don’t care how the rest of the world sees it, quite frankly," she said.

It’s become a joke in politics and media to say “this is why Trump won" whenever you see something that’s preaching-to-the-choir, self righteously liberal (I said it this weekend about an adult coloring book that featured both Beyonce and Ruth Bader Ginsburg). Whether you think that sort of thing is why Trump won or whether there is a smug liberal problem is up to you, but liberals making liberal things for other liberals that conservatives don’t consume nor appreciate is definitely a thing.

“House of Cards" Countdown:
Season 5 of the Netflix show will be released at the end of the month. They dropped a preview on Instagram this morning. “One nation. Underwood."

Street Art:
CNN’s Ed O’Keefe spotted this painting of a buck-toothed Trump ripping up the First Amendment at the West End Lounge on 107th and Broadway in New York City. I feel like the behind-the-bars look makes it all the more dramatic.

Image credit: Ed O’Keefe

Send me your pics of political street art to coverlinehunter@cnn.com, tweet me @hunterschwarz, or tag @cnncoverline on Instagram.

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