An invitation to a fancy state dinner at the White House clearly isn’t seen as an obvious sign that a journalist is “in the tank” for President Obama. Friday night’s state dinner for the presidents of five Nordic countries drew two nightly-news anchors – David Muir of ABC and Lester Holt of NBC – three, if you count Fox Special Report anchor Bret Baier.
Muir and ABC News vice president Robin Sproul were probably hoping the Obamas were too polite to notice that as we reported just last year, Muir editorialized that an “elegant state dinner” (for Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe) went forward while Baltimore was shut down over rioting:
MUIR: There is no official word on when school reopens here, but the teachers are prepared. Baltimore conventions have been canceled. The National Aquarium is closed. The Baltimore Marriott has allowed some customers to cancel their rooms without charge. And tonight, we remind you, an elegant state dinner scheduled at the White House, just about 40 miles from here.
NBC’s Al Roker also made the guest list – let’s hope he was seated with his idol Joe Biden – and joked to The Washington Post that he has a connection because “he’s frolicked in the fjords...acually, I drive a Fjord.” CNN Washington correspondents Athena Jones and Sunlen Serfaty were there.
White House reporters were also invited: NPR’s Scott Horsley and Jeff Mason of Reuters, as well as former White House correspondent (now national correspondent) Jackie Calmes of The New York Times, and former White House correspondent (and now national editor) Scott Wilson of The Washington Post.
Sandra Sobieraj Westfall, a regular puff-piece specialist for Democrats at People magazine, also found a fringe benefit, as well as Glamour magazine editor Cindi Leive. As a feminist, Leive surely made a beeline for dinner guest Cecile Richards, the Planned Parenthood boss.
Celebrities on the list included David Letterman, Will Ferrell, Aziz Ansari, the singers Demi Lovato and Janelle Monae and the rapper Common, and ABC stars Connie Britton (Nashville), Tracee Ellis Ross (Black-ish) and Bellamy Young (the wronged First Lady on Scandal). Alison Williams, the HBO Girls star and daughter of disgraced NBC anchor Brian Williams, also attended.
Britton joked to the Post that since she also attended the White House Easter Egg Roll and the White House Correspondents dinner, "I'm a groupie at this point."