White House Correspondents’ Dinner Snubs Slain Journalists in Gaza

Protesters attempted to shame journalists and politicos heading to the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday into skipping the event in solidarity with the many journalists who have lost their lives in Gaza since Israel began its war on the territory. 

For some attendees, the protests on the way in may have been the only time they heard about those journalists killed in Gaza — unless they were listening very closely. The slain journalists in Gaza were mentioned one time on stage, according to transcripts of the event, when NBC News Senior White House Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell said, “Since October, about 100 journalists have been killed, most of those deaths in Gaza, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.”

That was it.

Since Hamas’ Oct. 7 attack, Israel has laid siege to Gaza, killing 34,000, displacing millions, and leaving the population at imminent risk of famine. At least 97 journalists have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, the Committee to Protect Journalists wrote on Friday.

President Joe Biden, who has steadfastly supported Israel’s war, did at one point acknowledge the dangers journalists face. 

“You literally risk your lives doing [the] job you do, covering everything from natural disasters, to pandemics, to wars, and so much more,” Biden said. “And some of your colleagues have given their lives. And many have suffered grievous injuries. Other reporters have lost their freedom.”

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is Washington, D.C.’s event of the year — the night where the Beltway’s top journalists, politicians, celebrities, and clingers-on party with White House staff. The president attends every year (except Donald Trump) to make jokes and also submit to a roast. That role was performed Saturday by Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost, who did not mention Gaza. 

The White House Correspondents’ Association announced four awards. An award for overall excellence in White House coverage went to Axios political reporter Barak Ravid for his reporting on Israel’s war in Gaza, including his Oct. 9 story headlined: “Scoop: Netanyahu tells Biden ‘we have to go’ into Gaza.”

“Barak Ravid’s reporting displayed deep, almost intimate levels of sourcing in the U.S. and abroad that produced stories closely aligned to the events that subsequently transpired,” the association wrote. “His stories put the reader into the room as decisions were being made in the tumultuous aftermath of the Oct. 7 raids.”

An award for excellence in presidential news coverage under deadline pressure went to New York Times Chief White House Correspondent Peter Baker. The association wrote that his “coverage of President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel just days after the Oct. 7 attacks, filed on deadline from Tel Aviv, combined a comprehensive recounting of that whirlwind trip with expert, reporting-driven analysis of the president’s messaging and priorities at a fraught global moment.”

An award for courage and accountability, named after the late former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham, went to the Post for its coverage on how AR-15 rifles destroy bodies — an important story, to be sure.

In the lead-up to the event, MSNBC Daily columnist Dean Obeidallah said on MSNBC, “I hope they bring up the number of journalists killed in Gaza.” 


“The fact that being a journalist in Gaza could mean your life is taken away — just doing your job, camera people, reporters on the ground, covering it … war time correspondents — and [they are] killed a lot of times with U.S. weaponry, to be blunt. And so I hope that they are acknowledged for their sacrifice, just trying to get the story out to the world.”

That did happen. Once.