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Scholarship money eclipsed by lavish holiday spending

On Saturday, the annual media self-congratulatory orgy known as the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner will bring together DC elites and Hollywood stars to celebrate the event’s supposed primary mission. – distribute scholarships to budding journalists.

LOL. In reality, the real reason someone shows up is for the party. When the hangover wears off, the money given to the J-school students is easily eclipsed by the lavish expenses needed to put on the vulgar show.

Orbiting the main event, a slew of before and after parties hosted by CNN, NBCUniversal, Politico and even two Hollywood talent agencies keep the party vibe going all weekend.

The White House Correspondents Association said it has given out more than $1.5 million in scholarships since 1991, and last year it awarded a total of $105,900. To put that number in perspective, that’s less than what WHCA Executive Director Steve Thomma earns in a year, which was $108,258 in 2020, the most recent year for which tax records are available. available.

Guests attend the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Washington Hilton on April 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

Undoubtedly, this is significantly less than what the WHCA spends to produce the dinner. The vast majority of money raised each year at ‘Nerd Prom’ goes to pay for expenses like food, drink and celebrities – this year, Comedy Central’s The daily show host Trevor Noah will do the honors.

In 2019, the WHCD raised $777,300 but cost nearly $560,000, according to tax returns. That year, the group handed out $118,000 in scholarships, meaning the WCHA spent nearly five times more on the party than it gave to students.

Scholarship money eclipsed by lavish holiday spending

View of the gift bag during the TIME and People’s Annual White House Correspondents’ Association Cocktail Party at the St. Regis Hotel on April 29, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for Time and People)

In other words, the WHCA has spent only 15% of its budget on its so-called primary goal of helping to train the next generation of journalists.

The cost of admission to this year’s dinner is $3,500 per table, which sets news outlets like CNN and Jeff Bezos. Washington Post will gladly pay for the opportunity to rub shoulders with politicians and celebrities.

At previous dinners, there have been up to 260 tables, meaning Saturday’s event could fetch up to $910,000. (This year’s shindig will likely feature slightly fewer tables due to ongoing coronavirus concerns).

Scholarship money eclipsed by lavish holiday spending

California Rep. Nancy Pelosi attends the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner at The Washington Hilton on April 28, 2018 in Washington, DC. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The WCHA said it has “allocated” $131,500 for this year’s round of scholarships, meaning scholarship prizes could represent less than 15% of the money raised.

Then-President Donald Trump notoriously boycotted the annual WHCD during his tenure, calling it “boring” and “negative”. Given the organization’s bizarre spending priorities, it’s a rotten deal, too.

Follow David Ng on Twitter @HeyItsDavidNg. Do you have any advice? Contact me at [email protected]


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