White House Correspondents Dinner for msnbc.com

I’d managed to avoid having to cover the hot mess that is the White House Correspondents Dinner in the seven years I’ve lived in DC, but I finally got the right assignment from MSNBC.com. I’ll do red carpet silliness any day of the week if I get the order to “show what it’s really like.” The opportunity to do that for this particular event- one that has been criticized by many who consider it to be unseemly and wildly inappropriate- was like handing me a plate full of freshly baked cookies and saying “Go to town- there are no consequences.”


I started at the Hilton where the event is held. We didn’t have access to the dinner itself- the idea was to show the madness surrounding the event. The red carpet was an obvious starting point. Nothing particularly glamorous about the space. It’s roped-off, crowded, ugly. I had to be careful- I didn’t want to risk getting rounded up and placed in the pen with the rest of the photographers. I needed to be free-range and to that end, I actually wore a formal dress and heels. I’d never done that on assignment before, but I needed to dress the part to get the right access. Better to be thought a party girl with a camera than someone actually documenting things.


I moved upstairs to check out the arrivals. I focused on the regular folks who had gathered behind ropes to spot notable arrivals. For someone who cares not for celebrity worship, I have to admit the excitement of these folks was pretty contagious. There was such a rapturous glee in every sighting.


For anyone who might not know, the Correspondents Dinner is the annual gathering of the political press, the people they cover, and a bewildering and unlikely smattering of celebrities. It makes no sense. Many consider it extremely unethical. A few outlets even boycott the event, but most revel in it.


Understated, elegant.


This is the view from behind the photographers covering the red carpet. I am not a tall person, so has been my historic view at these kinds of things.


The band arrives.


A photo op with the president’s car.


Secret Service conspicuously guarding an inconspicuous door.


Police tape in the tulips. A romantic sight.


Actress Anna Kendrick leaving early and hopping into a DC taxi.


This random guy chased her down and had her sign as many of these as possible. Not really sure what he does with them. Sells them? Something else?


On to the MSNBC after party!


This guy told me he was Washington D.C.’s “Shadow Senator” and showed me this very un-DC ring.


Among the extravagances of the party (held at the magnificent National Building Museum) was a station where you could acquire a freshly rolled cigar.


DC is known for its sartorial risk-taking….


You might recognize this glamorous girl rocking out to a live performance by Jimmy Eat World as actress Mae Whitman. In my notes from the night, her name is listed only as “Her?”


I’ve come to the conclusion that in a night full of very strange sights, these non-thematic, random coconut drinks were the most absurd.


Back of the house.  It takes a lot of crates to keep a party going.

These were just a few of the images from a long, strange night. Check out the MSNBC.com edit here.