You Have To Be Invited To The WHCD

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The White House Correspondents Dinner will have one notable absence this year: President Trump, who will be the first president in over three decades to skip out on the dinner. That doesn't mean the ballroom will be entirely devoid of politicians, but it does raise questions about which ones will show up. For instance, is Paul Ryan at the White House Correspondents Dinner?

Ryan didn't announce his intentions before the dinner and, more to the point, the WHCD doesn't have an official guest list. The attendees at this year's dinner are harder to predict than in years past, given that the president — normally the most high-profile attendee of the event — isn't going to be there. This is highly unusual, and Trump's absence certainly affected the turnout to the dinner

The White House Correspondents Association is a non-profit organization whose membership is composed of reporters, editors, camera operators, and other journalists. The WHCA sells 2,600 tickets to the dinner ever year, but only to its members — that is, journalists. As a result, non-journalists who want to attend the WHCD can only do so if they're invited by a news organization (or a member thereof) that's scooped up extra tickets. Trump was allowed to attend the infamous 2011 WHCD, for instance, because he was invited by a Washington Post editor.

So, Ryan would need to be invited by a news organization in order to attend the WHCD. Plus, according to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, the rest of the White House staff won't be attending the WHCD either, in order to show "solidarity" with their boss, who feels he has been "treated unfairly." Ryan is the Speaker of the House, and not technically a White House staffer, but Ryan has been an ally of Trump's ever since the inauguration. Taking those two facts together, it wouldn't be at all surprising to see Ryan, were he to be invited, skip out on the dinner altogether.

Because tickets are scarce, plenty of elected officials don't get invited to the WHCD. As Speaker of the House, Ryan could probably obtain an invitation if he really wanted to. But so far, there's no sign that he wants to.