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White House Correspondents’ Dinner Receives Criticism with Chants of ‘shame on you’ amid Gaza Conflict

The annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, which took place on Saturday, faced criticism and protests due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The event, attended by journalists, celebrities, and politicians, usually involves a roast of the President and light-hearted jabs at political rivals. However, this year’s dinner was overshadowed by the war in Gaza and concerns over media coverage of the conflict.

Outside the event, hundreds of protesters gathered to condemn President Biden’s handling of the conflict and the media’s coverage of it. Protesters shouted “shame on you!” and accused U.S. journalists of underreporting and misrepresenting the war. Some protesters even lay motionless on the pavement next to mock-ups of flak vests with “press” insignia. The chants of “Free, free Palestine” filled the air, and a Palestinian flag was unfurled from a top-floor hotel window, much to the delight of the crowd.

Criticism of the Biden administration’s support for Israel’s military offensive in Gaza has been growing, particularly on college campuses where students are urging their universities to divest from Israel. Counterprotests supporting Israel’s offensive have also taken place, with some accusing the critics of antisemitism.

To ensure the safety and security of attendees, law enforcement, including the Secret Service, implemented extra street closures and other measures. The Secret Service spokesman emphasized their commitment to protecting demonstrators’ right to assemble while remaining intolerant of any violent or destructive behavior.

Inside the event, President Biden delivered a speech followed by entertainer Colin Jost from “Saturday Night Live.” The president acknowledged the complexity of the moment for the nation and highlighted the importance of journalists’ work. He also addressed the issue of journalists being detained and persecuted worldwide, including Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been imprisoned in Russia since March 2023.

Protest organizers aimed to draw attention to the high number of Palestinian and Arab journalists killed during the war. According to a preliminary investigation by the Committee to Protect Journalists, nearly 100 journalists have been killed while covering the conflict. Israel has defended its actions, stating that it has been targeting militants.

Organizers expressed disappointment with the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), which represents journalists covering the president, for its silence on the killings of Palestinian journalists. The WHCA did not respond to requests for comment.

Overall, the White House Correspondents’ Dinner faced criticism and protests this year due to the ongoing conflict in Gaza. The war and concerns over media coverage of it overshadowed the usual light-hearted tone of the event. Critics accused President Biden of enabling Israeli devastation and starvation of Palestinians in Gaza, while protesters highlighted the high number of journalists killed while covering the conflict. The dinner served as a reminder of the challenges faced by journalists worldwide and the importance of their work in bringing truth to light.

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