Washington (AFP) – The journalists who gained famed in the Watergate scandal that led to the resignation of president Richard Nixon will headline the White House Correspondents Association dinner, shunned by President Donald Trump.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein will be the speakers at the April 29 event, which has long been an occasion for the president to address the media and their guests.
Woodward and Bernstein led The Washington Post reporting team that investigated the 1972 break-in at the Watergate hotel, which eventually led back to the White House, prompting a scandal that forced Nixon to resign in 1974.
“Happy to announce @realBobWoodward and @carlbernstein will present 2017 journalism awards at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner #whcd,” association president Jeff Mason tweeted.
Planning for the event had been thrown into turmoil by the bitter war between Trump and the mainstream news media since the 2016 election campaign.
Amid Trump’s repeated barbs against the “dishonest media” and “fake news,” some journalists and media outlets had been thinking twice about their participation in the April 29 dinner, a tradition that dates back to 1921.
Trump announced in February that he would not attend, but the association said the dinner would still be held as scheduled to raise money for journalism scholarships.
The billionaire who took office in January will be the first president to skip the dinner since Ronald Reagan in 1981, who was recovering from an assassination attempt.
In recent years, the dinner has become a star-studded event attracting such A-list celebrities as George Clooney, Helen Mirren and Lindsay Lohan, with politics mainly an afterthought.
This year, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair have canceled parties they traditionally host as part of the hoopla surrounding the dinner.
Woodward, 74, remains on the staff of The Washington Post while the 73-year-old Bernstein has worked for ABC News and other news organizations, and written several books.
Bernstein has been a vocal critic of Trump, tweeting in December: “No president, including Nixon, so ignorant of fact and disdains fact in way @realDonaldTrump does. PEOTUS creates/thrives in truth-free zone.” He later wrote that “Attacks on press by @realDonaldTrump more treacherous than Nixon’s.”
Woodward told the Post that he did not expect to tell any jokes at the dinner.
“I think having two old guys like Carl and me will be enough comedy,” he was quoted as saying, adding that they would stress “the importance of aggressive but fair reporting.”