The White House Correspondents Dinner returned Saturday evening after being called off for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. And it received about as much fanfare as bingo night at a nursing home.

The bash, put on by the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA), is ostensibly an awards dinner a la the Grammys or the Oscars and often entices at least a few A-listers to attend. This year, newly minted couple Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson were the biggest head turners, alongside Drew Barrymore, Miranda Kerr, and Martha Stewart. However, according to my own very...

The White House Correspondents Dinner returned Saturday evening after being called off for two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. And it received about as much fanfare as bingo night at a nursing home.

The bash, put on by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), is ostensibly an awards dinner a la the Grammys or the Oscars and often entices at least a few A-listers to attend. This year, newly minted couple Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson were the biggest head turners, alongside Drew Barrymore, Miranda Kerr, and Martha Stewart. However, according to my own very scientific sample, the event known locally as “nerd prom” came and went without ever registering on the average American’s radar.

Instead, the WHCA dinner became tabloid fodder for the same “news” outlets that shelled out thousands of dollars for full tables. The Washington Post, Axios, the New York Times, CNN, and others trumpeted coverage of the red carpet, the “best jokes,” and celebrity sightings.

President Joe Biden probably should have launched into an extended “thank you” speech to the media for refusing to cover the Hunter Biden laptop story ahead of the election and downplaying rising gas prices and inflation. Instead, he tried his hand at a few teleprompter jokes written by his staff. The unifier-in-chief referred to his predecessor as a “horrible plague,” razzed CBS News for hiring Mick Mulvaney, and accused Fox News reporters of hypocrisy for attending an event with a vaccine mandate.

Comedian Trevor Noah, host of the Daily Show, thankfully decided to rib all sides of the political aisle. I’ll let you decide whether or not he was actually funny, but the most telling part of Noah’s set was when Biden laughed along at a joke about rising prices across the country. One of the few times it’s actually not a good idea to laugh at yourself.

Some news outlets wrote glowingly about how Biden’s participation at the dinner signaled that he respects the free press, unlike his evil orange predecessor. It’s a hollow analysis considering that Biden has been one of the least accessible presidents in the modern era. He rarely offers unscripted remarks to the press and there have been few wide-ranging press conferences or sit-down interviews with reporters. When Biden does speak off the cuff, his communications team is there to quickly spin his comments. So is the WHCA dinner really about press access to the White House, or honoring government officials who don’t dare criticize them?

The media likes to claim that the evening is an opportunity for them to temporarily put aside their differences and have a cordial relationship with government officials. In fact, the opposite is true. The WHCA dinner is the one night the press can stop pretending it’s not an arm of the regime. They can finally abandon fake notions of holding those in power accountable or saving democracy or whatever and have a guilt-free drink with friends — and future colleagues, to be sure.

They’re all in this together — and I don’t mean in the platitudinous Covid way.