Protests greet Biden at annual White House correspondents’ dinner By Reuters


By Jarrett Renshaw

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden will give an election-year roast on Saturday night at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner against the backdrop of protests against his support for Israel’s war against Hamas.

Demonstrators holding banners chanted about journalist deaths in Gaza outside the Washington Hilton, the site of the annual gathering. Hundreds of protesters encouraged journalists to boycott the event and shouted down administration officials as they entered.

Biden avoided the large protests at the front of the hotel by arriving through a back entrance, where he was greeted by smaller groups of protesters calling for a ceasefire.

At the century-old event, often referred to as Washington’s “nerd prom,” hundreds of journalists, politicians and celebrities rub elbows in a massive hotel banquet hall. It often features friendly jabs from the president in a closing speech that takes aim at reporters and other guests in the audience. This year it will be hosted by Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost.

Grassroots movement CODEPINK marched to the venue from a nearby park, arguing that “the United States media perpetuates anti-Palestinian narratives and ignores Israeli war crimes,” it wrote on its website.

A growing movement against the war in Gaza has dogged Biden this year including at a $250-per-ticket March fundraiser at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, which was disrupted by protesters.

Recently, that movement has expanded to college campuses in the U.S., signifying a growing revolt inside the Democratic base that Biden needs to defeat Republican frontrunner and former President Donald Trump.

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Kelly O’Donnell, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, declined to comment on security measures for the dinner.

“The safety and security of our protectees is the U.S. Secret Service’s top priority,” said U.S. Secret Service spokesperson Alexi Worley, who declined to comment further.

Israel’s six-month old war against Hamas in Gaza, in response to the Oct. 7 attack by the militant group in southern Israel, has killed more than 34,000 people, Palestinian health authorities say, and caused a humanitarian disaster for the enclave’s more than 2 million inhabitants.

The Hamas attack killed 1,200 people in Israel, and led to 253 taken hostage, according to Israeli tallies.

The White House Correspondents Association was founded in 1914 and has held a dinner nearly every year since 1921 to celebrate the reporters who cover the presidency and raise money for scholarships.

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