Chance for Obama to jab at DC's establishment

May 9, 2009 6:43:58 PM PDT
It's a chance for President Barack Obama to jab at the Washington establishment and perhaps chide his critics. The forum is the White House Correspondents' Association's annual black-tie dinner Saturday night, which attracts a mix of politicians, celebrities and journalists.

The president isn't the only one telling the jokes.

Tart-tongued comic Wanda Sykes, who first made a name on TV with stints on "The Chris Rock Show" and "Curb Your Enthusiasm," was booked as this year's dinner entertainer.

She has said it's her job to "poke fun and ridicule," and even a popular figure such as Obama isn't off limits.

Proceeds from the dinner will help feed the hungry and fund journalism scholarships. The association will donate more than $23,000 to the charity So Others Might Eat, including money raised by skipping formal dessert for guests.

First lady Michelle Obama planned to present scholarship awards at the event.

The $200-per-ticket dinner attracts plenty of VIPs from outside the Beltway. Among those expected to attend were Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Eva Longoria Parker, Ashton Kutcher, Alicia Keys, Jimmy Fallon, Samuel L. Jackson and Jon Bon Jovi.

Pilot hero pilot Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger was expected, too.

Look for Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and Obama's chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich; former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; and Todd Palin, whose wife, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, canceled due to flooding in her state.

To be honored at the dinner are several journalists: -Sandra Sobieraj Westfall of People magazine and David Greene of National Public Radio, the Merriman Smith Award for presidential coverage under deadline pressure. Westfall won for her election night reporting. Greene won for digging into candidate Obama's speech that addressed the country's racial divide.

-Michael Abramowitz, formerly of The Washington Post, the Aldo Beckman award for his coverage of the final days of the Bush administration.

-Michael J. Berens and Ken Armstrong of the Seattle Times, the Edgar A. Poe Award for excellence in coverage of news of national or regional significance, for a series exposing the failure of Washington state hospitals and others to handle the rise of the MRSA staph infection.

The White House Correspondents Association was formed in 1914 as a liaison between the press and the president. Every president since Calvin Coolidge has attended the dinner.

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