Why the Nerd Prom Matters

Think you know everything about the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Behind the glitz and the jokes, it's a chance for journalists to build relationships—and raise some money. VIEW OUR GALLERY.

Rachel Sklar

Rachel Sklar

Matthew Settle and Captain Richard Phillips

Maersk Alabama captain and Somali pirate-thwarter Capt. Richard Phillips had already met the most important person at the dinner by the time he got there—he'd had a private audience with the president earlier that afternoon. But that didn't mean he couldn't make new friends—like Gossip Girl's Matthew Settle, who comes from a military family and enthusiastically bonded with the captain over rogue waves. For his part, the captain was impressed that Settle was in Band of Brothers. "This may be the most impressive guy!" he said. I asked Mrs. Phillips if she minded the sudden attention. No, she said: "I know who he's going home with at the end of the night."

Evan Agostini / AP Photo

Mariska Hargitay

"Mariska, how was the dinner?" "Fantastic, you're on my train." OK, so maybe this is one relationship that won't take.

Rachel Sklar

Mort Zuckerman, Andrea Mitchell, Alan Greenspan

NBC's Andrea Mitchell, flanked by husband former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, and media mogul Mort Zuckerman. Later, C-SPAN would catch Greenspan giving his wife's shoulder an affectionate tickle. It's that kind of network.

Rachel Sklar

The Gingriches and the Holbrookes

Strange bedfellows, indeed: Never mind Mitchell and Greenspan, Richard Holbrooke and Newt Gingrich were huddled together for a while, while their wives stood by silently and photographers and sycophants hovered, waiting for them to break apart. It took a while.

Rachel Sklar

Padma Lakshmi

Padma Lakshmi tells the media to pack up their knives and go. Or maybe that her face is up here.

Rachel Sklar

Michael Steele and Roland Martin

CNN's Roland Martin has no problem cozying up to D.C. bigwigs: He grabbed RNC Chairman Michael Steele in a big bear hug from behind, and it seemed Steele let him do it for a good long while before turning around (for another, proper hug). Wow, maybe he IS the new face of the GOP!

Rachel Sklar

Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power

New parents, Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein, celebrate their first night out since their new baby, Declan Power-Sunstein, was born two weeks ago—"On Armenian Genocide Day!" Power pointed out. Leave it to Power to raise awareness. We're not entirely sure that was a coincidence.

Martin H. Simon-Pool / Getty Images

Michelle Obama greets a scholarship recipient

In a room where status is measured by how close you are to the front, these kids were among the top VIPs there. How many of the arms YOU rubbed belonged to a sleeveless Michelle Obama? Exactly.

Rachel Sklar

David Axelrod and Nate Silver

David Axelrod stopped to shake hands with stats guru Nate Silver. Barely a year ago, his blog didn't exist. Now, who knows? Stats apply to the economy, don't they?

Rachel Sklar

Wanda Sykes

After her wanda-ful set, Wanda Sykes came over to the Capitol File party to wanda around. Oh come on, that's at least as funny as that 20th hijacker joke.

Glynnis MacNicol

Rahm Emanuel and Rachel Sklar

I have no problem cozying up to my sources. Now I just have to make Rahm Emanuel a source.