Wrapping Up the Media’s Weekend Parties in DC

From POLITICO Playbook with Rachael Bade, Ryan Lizza, and Eugene Daniels:

We were out and about all weekend at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and the many events surrounding it. We then spent Sunday kibitzing with some of our favorite reporters and sources, and got a sense of what official Washington was privately buzzing about as the weekend wound down. Here’s some of what we heard:

  • You’ve probably read the trend pieces about how cigarette smoking has made a modest return among N.Y. and D.C. millennials. It’s true among a small group at the Biden White House as well. But there’s a twist: They smoke menthols.
  • The left’s weird Twitter obsessions: Trevor Noah’s routine was widely praised, but there were a few clunkers that only the most extremely onlinelefty media addicts could understand. A question on some minds: How did so many of Matt Negrin’s weird Twitter obsessions become Noah punchlines that didn’t land?
  • From Joe Biden’s cutting-room floor: The comedy portion of Biden’s remarks was relatively short, but well-received. We hear one joke that didn’t make it in was a line about OnlyFans, because nobody wanted to explain what it was to the president.
  • Best spotted: Antony Blinken and Kim Kardashian in conversation in the Hilton ballroom.
  • Biggest head-scratcher: Noah repeatedly referring to people in the audience who weren’t in the audience.
  • Most surprising Biden reaction: His cackling at Noah’s line about Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) being “openly bisexual but a closeted Republican.”
  • Fashion faux-POTUS: As you may have noticed, during his remarks Biden’s bowtie became noticeably and distractingly askew. An awkward scramble ensued among staffers to relay that to him as he spoke. Someone finally got him the message by pantomiming the issue just below the podium, where photographers were assembled.
  • Best celeb-staffing-a-staffer moment: Sophia Bush escorting press secretary Jen Psaki out of the dinner while blocking people in their path. Bush: “I have my heels on. Nobody can mess with us.”
  • Cringiest overheard from the parties: Sophia Bush at UTA’s Friday bash at Fiola Mare, obsessing to her handler about whether she was at the right party.
  • The star power at this year’s dinner was dim. Hollywood had a pretty small turnout. So this may be remembered as the year that the event became somewhat de-celebrified. Which isn’t such a bad thing.
  • The weekend’s Iron Man: Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “Leahy is 82 years old, and yet, I saw him at 1 a.m. at the NBC WHCD after-party at The Kennedy Center, and then again just a few hours later at the POLITICO brunch. The man is a force of nature,” one tipster wrote to Playbook. “For all the commentary about the WHCD, I think what’s most special about the entire weekend is the opportunity to share special, unique moments with people like Senator Leahy who carry with them a distinct understanding of our modern history. … It’s the moments that aren’t captured on our iPhones or posted on Instagram that makes this weekend special.”

WaPo’s Jada Yuan has a good wrap-up of the weekend with some fun deets and anecdotes. Our favorite: “Martha Stewart, a guest at the Daily Mail’s table, told her hosts: ‘This is like my sixth time or seventh time [here]. I’ve never been at a table so far back before. The view is fabulous, though.’ She was so far back that the doors to the kitchen were swinging open every five seconds next to her chair.”

SPOTTED at CNN’s Political Hangover Brunch on Sunday: Bakari Sellers, Phil Rucker, Dana Bash, Audie Cornish, Don Lemon, Jake Tapper, John Avlon, John McCarthy, David Chalian, Josh Dawsey, Ned Price, Matt Hill, Brian Stelter, Zachary Cohen, Alex Marquardt, Connor Goddard, Liz Johnson, Anthony Coley, Ben Haas and Christine Romans.

SPOTTED at the annual POLITICO Garden Brunch hosted by Elena and Robert Allbritton on Sunday, which brought the WHCD weekend festivities to a close: ​​Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Cabinet Secretary Evan Ryan, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), British Ambassador Karen Pierce, French AmbassadorPhilippe Etienne, José Andrés, Sophia Bush, press secretary Jen Psaki, Mike Donilon, Rob Flaherty, Margaret Carlson, Jonathan Martin and Betsy Fischer Martin, Scott Mulhauser and Kara Carscaden, Susan Rice, Alex Burns and MJ Lee, Linda Bloss-Baum, Yohannes Abraham, Parita Shah, Mathias Döpfner, Francesca Chambers, Senay Bulbul, Jonathan Capehart, Andrea Mitchell, Carol Joynt, Fred and Ginny Ryan, Bret and Amy Baier, Ben and Ashley Chang, and Francesca Craig.

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