Chants of 'shame on you' greet guests at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner

President Joe Biden is set to deliver an election-year roast in front of a large crowd of journalists, celebrities and politicians.

In previous years, Biden, like his predecessors, has used the annual White House Correspondents' Association dinner to attack media coverage of his administration and political rivals, particularly Republican rival Donald Trump.

But with protesters vowing to gather outside the dinner, any effort by Biden to highlight Washington's shortcomings and the dangers of his presidential campaign must be balanced against concerns about the war and humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the dangers to journalists. Conflict. Criticism of the Biden administration's support for Israel's 6-month military offensive in Gaza has spread across American college campuses, with students setting up camps in an effort to distance their universities from Israel. Counter-protests support Israel's attack and complain of anti-Semitism.

Entertainer Colin Jost from “Saturday Night Live” will take a few jabs at the president and his opponents following Biden's speech before a crowd of nearly 3,000 at a Washington hotel.

Many journalists imprisoned in Russia since March 2023, including Wall Street Journal reporter Ivan Gershkovich, will be detained and persecuted around the world for doing their jobs.

Ahead of the event, most of the protests outside the venue of the glitzy annual dinner were aimed at the Western news media, though not at Biden.

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Sands accused American journalists of covering up the war and misrepresenting it. “Shame!” Dressed men and women ran clutching clutch purses and long dresses as protesters, dressed in traditional Palestinian keffiyeh scarves, rushed to the event as guests and other participants rushed to the event.

Other protesters lay motionless on the pavement, next to mock-ups of flag underwear emblazoned with “Journal”.

They marched to the site as other protesters chanted, “Free, free Palestine.”

Before the president arrived at the Washington Hilton — an event that has been taking place for decades — he was expected to join Biden's motorcade and hundreds of people marching along the nearby route, noting the large number of Palestinians and other Arab journalists killed. Israel's military since the war began in October.

Law enforcement, including the Secret Service, have instituted additional street closures and other measures to ensure what Secret Service spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said is “the highest level of safety and security for participants.”

The agency is working with Washington police to protect protesters' right to assemble, Guglielmi said. However, “we will have zero tolerance for any violent or destructive behavior.”

More than two dozen journalists in Gaza wrote to their colleagues in Washington last week to boycott the dinner.

“The amount we are being charged for fulfilling our journalistic obligations is shocking,” the letter says. “We are subjected to Israeli military detention, interrogations and torture, all for the crime of journalistic integrity.”

An organizer complained that the White House Correspondents' Association — which represents hundreds of journalists who cover the president — has been largely silent on the killing of Palestinian journalists since the first weeks of the war. WHCA did not respond to a request for comment.

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Nearly 100 journalists covering the war in Gaza have been killed, according to a preliminary investigation released Friday by the Committee to Protect Journalists. Israel has defended its actions by saying they were targeting terrorists.

“Since the start of the Israel-Gaza war, journalists have paid the highest price — their lives — to protect our right to the truth. Every time a journalist dies or is injured, we lose a piece of that truth,” said CPJ Project Director Carlos Martinez de La Serna said in a statement.

Sandra Tamari, executive director of the Atala Justice Project, a U.S.-based Palestinian advocacy group that helped organize the letter from journalists in Gaza, said, “It's shameful that the media is dining and laughing with President Biden while enabling Israel's destruction and starvation of the Palestinians in Gaza.”

In addition, the Atala Justice Project launched an email campaign targeting 12 media executives at various news organizations — including The Associated Press — who were expected to attend the dinner that had earlier signed a letter calling for the protection of journalists in Gaza.

___ Associated Press writers Mike Balsamo and Fatima Hussain contributed to this report.

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