Prominent Washington journalists, if not Hollywood stars, celebrated the First Amendment during the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, an event that lacked the glitter of past years. With President Trump sending his regrets, attention was no longer focused on an in-person roasting of the commander in chief and his humorous remarks about politics and the press. The red carpet that once featured Oscar winners, TV stars, and major-league athletes barely turned heads. Instead, speakers promoted press freedom and responsibility and challenged Trump's accusations of dishonest reporting. The stars of the night were Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, who recounted what they learned about journalism from their reporting for the Washington Post. "Like politicians and presidents sometimes ... we make mistakes and go too far," Woodward said, per the AP.
"When that happens we should own up to it. But the effort today to get this best obtainable version of the truth is largely made in good faith. Mr. President, the media is not 'fake news.'" The evening was not without humor. "The leader of our country is not here," cracked entertainment headliner, Hasan Minhaj of the Daily Show. "And that's because he lives in Moscow. It's a very long flight. As for the other guy, I think he's in Pennsylvania because he can't take a joke." WHCA president Jeff Mason said this dinner would have been different even if Trump had attended, "based on the tension that has existed ... and some of the things he has said about the press." The dinner was briefly upstaged by late-night TV star Samantha Bee's first "Not the White House Correspondents' Dinner," a taped show featuring Will Ferrell and others roasting Trump. The Committee to Protect Journalists will receive proceeds from the broadcast.