White Ties, But Off-the-Cuff

Neshan H. Naltchayan

This year marks the first time that President Obama has participated in the best dinner party in town, having missed it for the first two years of his presidency. That means that now Grover Cleveland has recovered his title -- he's once again the only president since 1885 not to speak at the annual Gridiron Club’s Annual White Tie Dinner at the Renaissance Hotel.

Kudos to Obama, because it never hurts to play well with the press.

This does not mean that everything went smoothly.  A major kerfuffle between excluded media and the organization brewed behind the scenes, C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb had requested to cover the event live and was denied.

"We respect C-SPAN and its persistence in seeking to bring TV cameras into our dinner, and we have respectfully declined." Susan Page told Washington Whispers. Page, bureau chief of US Today, is this year’s outgoing president of the Gridiron Club.

"The distinction is illogical..." former MSNBC correspondent David Shuster tweeted. In a follow-up tweet, he added: "The Gridiron dinner features government leaders, including the President. It's not a dinner for Jackie Mason."

All was for naught though, and the show went on without either C-SPAN or Shuster -- although plenty of A-listers were in attendance, including Katie Couric (pictured).

And the on-the-record event did let those attending get the word out afterward. Here are a few funny moments reported.

“Romney jokes were big, but not as plentiful as John Boehner jokes. The president said he used to think the House speaker was tan, but after seeing him tear up so much, he realized: 'That’s not a tan -- that’s rust!'" (The Reliable Source)

“Taking the stage to give the evening's closing remarks, the president looked toward the live band at the back of the room and asked, 'Can we go with the song we talked about? The band struck up Bruce Springsteen's 'Born in the U.S.A.'" (Politico)

For those excluded from the Saturday night event, Sunday offered a three-hour kiss-and-make-up invite to attend a rehash of the previous night.  Alas, no cameras were allowed.

Contact Us