Gridlock for Gridiron Guests

The annual spring Gridiron Dinner is among the most prestigious journalism events, but the front-loaded presidential campaign is messing with it.

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The annual spring Gridiron Dinner is among the most prestigious journalism events, but the front-loaded presidential campaign is messing with it. The problem: Big-shot guests, like six cabinet secretaries, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, Fox's Bill O'Reilly, and some 29 others expecting to go, lack sponsors. Normally, media execs attend an auction to pick their guests for $280 a pop, but many had to skip it last month because they were covering the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary. Now the media club is begging members to grab the unclaimed guests. Gridiron President Carl Leubsdorf, bureau chief of the Dallas Morning News, isn't worried. "We've had a good response from [auction] absentees and expect to have hosts for all those who were notified previously that they would be invited," he says. "We didn't expect everyone to be taken."