When the media elites gathered for the White House Correspondents Dinner, they spread more than good gossip, as news reports emerge of multiple journalists being infected with the coronavirus.
The event, as noted by The New York Times, packed 2,600 people into one large room. The potential for the event to be a playground for the coronavirus was touched upon by jokester Trevor Noah in his remarks.
“It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event,” he said,
“No, for real, people, what are we doing here? Let’s be honest, what are we doing? Like, did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Nothing?” he said, referencing another dinner that spread COVID-19.
“Do you read any of your own newspapers?” he said. “You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large indoor gatherings. Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan.”
Media outlets were not offering a count, but according to CNN, representatives from CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, Politico, and other news organizations all reported testing positive for the virus.
Jon Karl, of ABC, who shook hands with President Joe Biden at the event, is among the positives.
White House Correspondents Association President Steven Portnoy said the organization tried to establish safe protocols for the event, which was not held last year or in 2020 due to the coronavirus.
“We worked hard to publicize our protocols and encouraged those eligible to get booster shots in the weeks leading up to the dinner. Our event implemented protocols that went beyond any guidance or regulation issued by the CDC or the DC health department. We wish anyone who may not be feeling well a speedy recovery,” he said.
SCOOP: White House Correspondents Association rebuffed offers to install, for free, devices to clean air at Saturday dinner.
Party planners worry devices will interfere with gala.
“The reasoning is not clear to me,” said one covid expert.
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) April 27, 2022
The event provoked differing levels of commentary about the virus.
Lissandra Villa of Buzzfeed News, who attended the event, at which masks were not required, posted a post-event musing that suggested perhaps this had not been such a great idea.
She wrote that “’official Washington,’ as it likes to call itself, should have to reckon with the example it set this weekend, at the main event and all the little side parties leading up to it.”
“If the approach to COVID now is to take calculated risks, the questions this weekend raises are: Could spending a weekend night at a work event really be worth the possibility of getting it? What is the result going to be of images of people who are supposed to be the most trusted names in news at an event that flies in the face of common sense?” she wrote.
Despite having four covid shots, Dr. Fauci said it wasn’t safe to attend the White House Correspondent’s Dinner. So instead he hit the pre-parties and hung with CNN’s Don Lemon. Who is still listening to this fraud Fauci? https://t.co/tCXUq8EEhj
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 2, 2022
CNN’s Oliver Darcy took a different approach, saying that catching COVID-19 is just one of those things.
“News orgs should also keep this story in perspective. It’s not 2020. With vaccines and booster shots being widely available, this type of event is no longer unique,” he wrote.
“Every day, people evaluate various risks and decide whether or not to take them. I can’t imagine a single person who attended the weekend of events who did not believe that they had a non-zero chance of contracting COVID,” he wrote.
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