DemDaily: The White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The Best Of

May 2, 2022

The White House Correspondents' Dinner was held Saturday night, the annual roast of the best and the brightest of journalism, and the people they cover -- with a little bit of Hollywood and political elite thrown in.

The red carpet event, which has been on hiatus for two years due to the pandemic, was a welcome return for some 2,600 journalists, media members, government officials, and celebrities all too anxious to work the room.

The evening is also traditionally when the President gets to take a comedic shot at the press corps and other political figures, and Biden rose to the occasion.

The star-studded event, which also honors excellence in reporting on the White House, was held at the Washington Hilton and hosted to great fanfare by "The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah.

The Best of Biden
Opening his remarks, the self-deprecating Biden acknowledged his popularity status: “I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have.”

In an early dig at President Donald Trump, who skipped the dinner during his time in office, Biden said, “This is the first time a president has attended in six years -- it’s understandable -- we had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID.”

He also acknowledged the COVID concerns around the event, while projecting confidence. “We’re here to show the country that we’re getting through this pandemic,” said Biden. Plus, "everyone had to prove they’re fully vaccinated and boosted. So if you’re at home watching this and you’re wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They’re all here -- vaccinated and boosted, all of them.”

"Fox News, I am really sorry your preferred candidate didn't win the presidential election. To make it up to you, I am willing to give you my chief of staff so he can tell Sean Hannity what to say."

“I’m not worried about the midterms. I’m not worried about them. We may end up with more partisan gridlock, but I’m confident we can work it out in my remaining six years in the presidency.”

“Folks, I’m not really here to roast the GOP. That’s not my style. Besides, there’s nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already put on tape.”

“Republicans seem to support one fella: Some guy named Brandon. He’s having a really good year, and I’m kind of happy for him!”

Of the video skit featuring comedian James Corden, who just announced he is leaving “The Late Late Show,” Biden said, "The good news is, if all goes well, I have a real shot of replacing James Corden." Comparing the two, he added they both were "great performers, going out on top after eight years on the job – sounds just about right to me."

In a serious ending to his remarks, Biden praised those in the room for their coverage of crises -- from the pandemic to the war in Ukraine: “The free press is not the enemy of the people, far from it. The truth matters. American democracy is not a reality show. It’s reality itself...I mean this in the bottom of my heart, that you, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century. You are the guardians of the truth."

And as he turned the mic over to Noah, Biden said: “The really good news is, now you get to roast the president of the United States, and unlike in Moscow, you won’t go to jail.”

From Trevor Noah
“It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished super-spreader event. For real, what are we doing here? Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you, what are you doing here?… The second someone offers you a free dinner you all turn into Joe Rogan…Anthony Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it’s OK. And we all went with Pete.”

“I’m not doing this just for the attention. Alright? I’m a comedian, not Kyrsten Sinema. By the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Whoever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual, but closeted Republican? That’s progress.”

“We all saw what happened at the Oscars. I’ve actually been a bit worried about tonight. I won’t lie. What if I make a really mean joke about Kellyanne Conway, and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?”

“I’ve just got to say, this is so exciting. To be at this swanky party full of Washington’s most powerful people. It’s not as exciting as Madison Cawthorn made it sound, but it’s still very sexy.”

Noah chided an imaginary Ron DeSantis in the audience for already trying to outmaneuver Trump for 2024, and "playing it coy. He won't even tell people if he got the booster. Or, as they say in Florida, 'Don't ask, don't tell.'"

“The great chef José Andrés is here tonight… Whenever there’s a disaster anywhere in the world, chef José is there, which I guess is why he’s sitting at the CNN table tonight.”

“The real reason that it’s such an honor to be here tonight is that we all get to be in the same room as the most powerful man in the United States. So let’s give it up for Joe Manchin, everybody.”

"Thank you for having me here," Noah said to Biden. "I was a little confused on why me, but then I was told that you get your highest approval ratings when a biracial African guy is standing next to you."

“Even as first lady, Dr. Jill Biden continued her teaching career. The first time a presidential spouse has done so, ever. Congratulations. Now, you might think it’s because she loves teaching so much, but it’s actually because she’s still paying off her student debt. I’m sorry about that, Jill. I guess you should’ve voted for Bernie (Sanders)."

Turning to Biden, Noah said, "these people have been really hard on you, which I don't get. Ever since you have come into office things are really looking up. Gas is up. Rent is up. Food is up. Everything.

Fox News is sort of like a Waffle House. Yeah, it’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in.”

Noah took his own serious moment. "The reason we are here is to honor and celebrate the fourth estate, and what you stand for. An additional check and balance that holds power to account and gives voice to those who otherwise wouldn't have one...Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy. And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities. If you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what is happening in Ukraine...Journalists are risking, and even losing their lives to show the world what's really happening. You realize how amazing it is. In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable."

Noah concluded, "I stood here tonight and I made fun of the president of the United States, and I'm going to be fine. I am going to be fine, right?" turning to Biden for confirmation.

As he departed, Noah delivered one last barb: “Please be careful leaving tonight, we all know this administration doesn’t handle evacuations well.”

The White House Correspondents' Association Awards (WHCA) were presented to:
The Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage: Jonathan Swan of Axios
The Excellence in Presidential News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure/Print:Zeke Miller and Mike Balsamo of the Associated Press
The Excellence in Presidential News Coverage Under Deadline Pressure/Broadcast: Jonathan Karl of ABC News
The Excellence in Presidential News Coverage by Visual Journalists: Photographer Brendan Smialowski of AFP
The Collier Prize for State Government Accountability: The Miami Herald and ProPublica
The Katherine Graham Award for Courage and Accountability: The Washington Post and the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ)
DemList will keep you informed.

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Kimberly Scott

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Sources: WHCA, NPR, Politico, CNN

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