The White House correspondents' dinner: Highlights

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10:10 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

"We reject efforts by anyone, especially our elected leaders, to paint journalism as un-American," WHCA chief says

Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, opened the dinner with an address about the core of journalism.

"Real news is sometimes happy, heart-warming, or heart-breaking and critical or makes you angry. But we reject efforts — be it anyone, especially our elected officials — to undermine journalism as un-American," Talev said.

9:48 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

Sean Spicer poses with White House press staff at the dinner

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer just shared a photo of members of President Trump's press team at tonight's correspondents' dinner.

He's standing next to current press secretary Sarah Sanders. Principal Deputy press secretary Raj Shaw is on the far right.

This is a big difference from last year. No Trump administration staffers attended the 2017 dinner.

9:37 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

White House staffers skipped last year's dinner. They're attending tonight.

No White House staffers went to last year's correspondents' dinner. But tonight, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway and other aides are attending.

So what changed?

"The President encouraged his staff and all of us to attend. And so we did, and we felt like it was important for us to come out and be here," Sanders said.

"We're here on behalf of the President, and in celebration of the First Amendment, and the President is in Michigan, touting the very strong economy," Conway said.

9:00 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

This is how tonight's event will play out

From CNN's Kate Sullivan

The annual White House correspondents' dinner, referred to in some circles as "nerd prom," brings together journalists and government officials to celebrate the First Amendment.

  • Guests started arriving at the Washington Hilton around 5:30 p.m. for the pre-parties.
  • The dinner started at 7:30 p.m.
  • A presentation of awards usually start at around 9:30 p.m.

8:47 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

Trump: My rally is better than the "phony" correspondents' dinner

President Trump, speaking at a rally in Michigan, took a jab at the White House correspondents' dinner he's missing back in Washington.

"By the way, is this better than that phony Washington White House correspondents' dinner? Is this more fun? I could be up there tonight smiling like I love when they're hitting you. Shot after shot, these people they hate your guts. Shot," Trump said.

8:37 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

What you should know about tonight's host, Michelle Wolf of "The Daily Show"

From CNN's Saba Hamedy

"The Daily Show" contributor Michelle Wolf is hosting tonight's White House correspondents' dinner.

Here are four things you should know about the comedian:

  1. She has a stand-up special on HBO. "Michelle Wolf: Nice Lady" generated rave reviews after debuting in December. IndieWire described it as "a glorious overview of life in 2017." The hour long special, filmed in August 2017, touches on many social issues including feminism and the environment.
  2. She's a former writer for 'Late Night with Seth Meyers.' She also helped write jokes for Chris Rock during his gig hosting the Academy Awards in 2016. She also opened for Louis C.K. on his 2016 stand-up tour.
  3. She's only the fifth woman to headline the dinner. The tradition of having comedians perform at the dinner began in 1983. Since then, only four women have served as headliners: "Saturday Night Live" star Cecily Strong in 2015, Wanda Sykes in 2009, Elayne Boosler in 1993 and Paula Poundstone in 1992.
  4. She is only going to get more famous. Netflix announced in February that Wolf will host her own half-hour, late-night talk show, which will premiere later this year.
7:51 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

Trump won't be there, but some administration officials will be

From CNN's Caroline Kenny

Many members of the Trump administration are slated to attend the dinner as invited guests.

Margaret Talev, president of the White House Correspondents' Association, issued a statement saying Trump will not attend the dinner, but added that "he will actively encourage members of the executive branch to attend and join us as we celebrate the First Amendment."

Talev also said press secretary Sarah Sanders will be seated at the head table during the dinner.

7:10 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

The best lines from last year's dinner

President Trump was a no-show at the White House correspondents' 2017 dinner. But that didn't keep "Daily Show" comedian Hasan Minhaj from addressing "the elephant not in the room.

Here's a look at the best jokes from Minhaj's speech last year:

  • On the First Amendment: "This event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy from college campuses to the White House. Only in America can a first generation Indian American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the President."
  • On CNN: "Don, every time I watch your show, I feel like I'm watching a reality TV show. 'CNN Tonight' should just be called 'Wait a second! Now hold on! Stop yelling at each!' with Don Lemon."
  • On Vladimir Putin: "We have to address the elephant not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. But that's because he's in Moscow."
  • On the Trump administration: "The news coming out of the White House is so stressful, I've been watching 'House of Cards' just to relax."
  • On headlining the WHCA dinner: "I would say it is an honor to do this, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one one wanted to do this so of course it falls in the hands of an immigrant. That's how it always goes down."
7:03 p.m. ET, April 28, 2018

This is what Trump is doing tonight instead

From CNN's Caroline Kenny

President Trump will be in Washington during this year's White House correspondents' dinner — Washington, Michigan, that is.

The President will hold a campaign rally in Washington Township tonight at 7 p.m. ET, during the annual dinner put on by the association representing the White House press corps.

This will be Trump's 11th rally in Michigan, as well as his fifth rally in the Detroit area, since he announced his candidacy for President back in June 2015, according to his campaign.

Here's what Trump campaign chief operating officer Michael Glassner said in a release:

"While the fake news media will be celebrating themselves with the denizens of Washington society in the swamp that evening, President Trump will be in a completely different Washington, celebrating our national economic revival with patriotic Americans."