Nobody knew exactly what was going to happen at this year's #White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, the yearly gala that has the news media dress up in finery, gowns and big hats and hang out with the #President and his pals.

On Saturday night the #Washington ritual that becomes a press sensation every year turn out to be a point of exploding light as talk of the freedom of the press – and the treatment the press have been given by Trump's press-hating administration – came front and center.

Where was President Trump?

#President Trump missed the event, and made a great effort to broadcast this fact.

Also, many celebrities didn't attend. Actors and comedians also said no the gig and the affair seemed lacking pep (as opposed to last year when Obama hung out with the cast of #Parks and Recreation cast and everyone wore a nice dress and the pretty pictures were broadcast across the globe and then seen in glossy magazines like Vanity Fair).

Even weirder, #President Trump heckled the event from his perch at an anti-press rally in Pennsylvania and talked of reporters and the media “consoling each other in a Washington ballroom”. Those that went to the ball told another story, they said that the chummy dinner felt this year actually quite profound. They described it as a blend of a pow-wow between beleaguered journalists and their editors in the mainstream press, with catharsis and even moments of therapy thrown in.

Comic relief

The comedian #Hasan Minhaj took the main gig and at the end of his epic comedic set – about the #Daily Show, Trump and the press –he gazed out at the crowd of media and said grandly, “This has been one of the strangest events I have ever done in my life.” And what he said was true, it was a strange and unprecedented sort of affair.

The #Correspondents Dinner this year was a moment of release and communion as many in the audience cheered and clapped the comedian on. That was followed by a shared moment of defiance when the president of the Correspondents’ Association, Jeff Mason at Reuters, cried out succinctly, “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations.

And we are not the enemy of the American people.” He got a massive standing ovation, which wasn’t surprising.

The journalist from the Watergate scandal, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward, reminded everyone sitting in the ballroom of the power of good journalism, this after their film called All the Presidents Men was aired the last week on television. Mr Woodward described the main gist of the night when he spoke to President Trump directly: “Mr. President, the media is not #fake news.”

Having the stars that broke the Watergate scandal for the #Washington Post there in attendance sent another strong message out to the world, and that message was that good journalists can bring down a president.

With the truth and with good investigative reporting democracy is assured and freedom is fought for.

Even Mr Minhaj who gave Trump a going-through in his raucous set, ended on a more serious note by alluding to the value of free speech. He described how it was only in a country such as #America that a first-generation immigrant Muslim child can climb onto the podium and make fun of the president of the Untied States Of America.

Others such as E J Dionne, a Washington chronicler, called the fancy get together a line in the sand night that he hadn’t expected. And it was an important night, one in which the #First Amendment was promoted by the Correspondents’ Association, an organization that depends on and liaises with the White House on behalf of its membership; it was careful not to blast the president too much.