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Rat, protesters grace annual White House Correspondents' Dinner: 'Russert will rat you out'
John Byrne and Ryan Alexander
Published: Saturday April 21, 2007
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WASHINGTON -- This year Stephen Colbert wasn't invited to speak.

But as media hotshots arrived for the much-hyped annual White House Correspondents' Dinner, they were faced with a new dilemma how to avoid the rat.

A rat carrying a sign saying "RUSSERT WILL RAT YOU OUT" graced the corner of the sidewalk at Connecticut and Florida Avenues, where President Bush arrived in his motorcade.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RAT, AL QAEDA, DAN RATHER PHOTOS.

The sign was referring to NBC News' Tim Russert, host of Meet the Press, who testified in the recently concluded CIA leak trial that he had spoken with Scooter Libby, Vice President Cheney's former chief of staff, about a CIA agent who was later outed. Libby told the special prosecutor in the case that Russert was the first to tell him of the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame, but Russert denied that this was the case.

Protesters from the conservative forum Free Republic were out in force Saturday night to greet reporters and media personalities on the sidewalk outside the Washington Hilton. Their signs ranging from critiques of the media as agents of Al Qaeda, to Tim Russert, to what they see as a media role in the recent Virginia Tech killings ran the gamut of right-wing issues and drew smiles and startled glances from reporters.

"I like the rat," one arriving reporter said.

Protesters holding a sign across the street from the Hilton also attacked NBC News, which they dubbed the "#1 ACCOMPLICE IN MASS MURDER."

The hit line ran above two photographs of Seung-Hui Cho, the Virginia Tech student who killed himself and 32 others earlier this week. The images ran on NBC as part of a video Cho sent to the network.

Secret Service agents swarmed around the Hilton complex and police paid the rat and the coterie of protesters little notice. A spokesman for the protesters said they protest the event every year.

Photographs follow. More to come.

RAW STORY also caught Larry King arriving outside the Hilton lobby.

DEVELOPING...

Photos by Ryan Alexander.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE RAT, AL QAEDA, DAN RATHER PHOTOS.