It was reported last week that CNN might stay away from the 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner.
Not only will CNN attend this year’s soirée, but it’s going against tradition by inviting journalism students as its guests, as opposed to a who’s who list of celebrities and high-ranking politicians, which has been the network’s custom.
“CNN has been a proud supporter of the White House Correspondents’ Association for decades. Once again, our employees – on camera and behind the scenes – will attend the association’s annual dinner on April 29. This year, our guests will be journalism students,” the channel said in a statement. “We feel there is no better way to underscore our commitment to the health and longevity of a free press than to celebrate its future. We stand with the WHCA 100 percent and look forward to being a part of an evening dedicated to funding scholarships and honoring great journalism.”
According to Politico, CNN is also buying the maximum number of tables they can and is donating extra money to the WHCA scholarship fund.
The network has treated the WHCD like The Oscars in recent years, inviting celebrities to sit at their tables, and broadcasting a red carpet special, analyzing the speeches and even presenting post-dinner party coverage. That doesn’t appear to be the case this year.
The WHCD dinner will have some programming competition this year, ironically from CNN’s sister network TBS. Samantha Bee is hosting a Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner special at the same time as the dinner. The proceeds from Bee’s special will go to the Committee to Protect Journalists.