Behind the Scenes at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner

By Merrill Knox 

For the White House Correspondents’ Association, it’s a night to celebrate the free press. For Joel McHale, it’s a night where “a guy like me can stand before the president, the press and Patrick Duffy, and tell jokes without severe repercussions.” And for TVNewser, it’s a night where the people we cover all year — executives, producers, reporters and anchors from every major network — are all together in the same room: the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which we attended this year as a guest of ABC News.

Our night began outside the entrance to the ballroom at the Washington Hilton, where we overheard now-NBC News correspdonent Cynthia McFadden ask for directions to the ABC News party. We followed her in, and a few minutes later we were chatting with Diane Sawyer, who told us she always looks forward to the Correspondents’ Dinner, and James Goldston, who said he was pleased with his first few weeks as ABC News president. In the back of the room, Fox News anchors Ainsley Earhardt and Kimberly Guilfoyle posed for a picture with Sofia Vergara; Earhardt told us afterwards that she’s “having a blast” anchoring “Fox & Friends First,” despite the crazy hours. We spotted Katie Couric chatting with former Presidential candidate Jon Huntsman and his daughter, Abby Huntsman, who is a co-host of MSNBC’s “The Cycle.”

Wolf Blitzer made the rounds with Diane Lane. We saw NBC’s Savannah Guthrie and ABC’s Lara Spencer snap a picture with Tony Goldwyn from “Scandal.” We spent a few minutes with Rebecca Jarvis, and chatted with Alicia Menendez about her participation in the TVNewser Show as well as her Twitter habit.


On the way into the ballroom, we spotted Guthrie and her husband, Mike Feldman, chatting with Bret Baier and his wife Amy. We saw Jessica Simpson and her fiance, Eric Johnson, chatting with fans. Simpson’s ex, Dallas Cowboys QB Tony Romo, was also at the WHCD as a guest of Fox News.

As politicos and celebrties mingled in the ballroom, we noticed Barbara Walters, fresh in from Los Angeles where she interviewed V. Stiviano Friday night, holding court at her table near the stage. We saw Meghan McCain and her father, Senator John McCain, who were guests of the Associated Press. McCain tweeted a picture with her “AZ sister,” Savannah Guthrie.

We were seated at an ABC News table with publicity director Van Scott, White House producers Jon Garcia and Mary Bruce, “This Week” executive producer Jonathan Greenberger, deputy political directors Shushannah Walshe and Michael Falcone, and “Good Morning America” senior producers Sarah Baker and Chris Donovan, who just finished his first week at ABC News. NBC’s Pete Williams was one table over.

At the MSNBC after party, Bravo’s “Top Chef” winners prepared food and Jimmy Eat World performed. David Gregory posed for pictures with guests and the “Today” show anchors walked the red carpet together. Chris Jansing, who will soon be joining the White House Press Corps, tweeted about the “great band” and “star-studded crowd.”

At the BuzzFeed after party, Ainsley Earhardt, Kimberly Guilfoyle and Harris Faulkner ducked into the photo booth. We spotted Robin Wright, Constance Zimmer and Michael Kelly from “House of Cards” making their way to the party’s second floor (our sister site FishbowlDC snapped a picture of them arriving). And Eric Bolling, who told us his favorite part of the dinner was Vice President Biden’s video with Julia Louis-Dreyfus from “Veep,” shared a selfie he took with Al Sharpton (above).