Dear Commons Community,
President Joe Biden didn’t hold back at the White House Correspondents’ Association’s annual dinner last night, roasting everyone from Don Lemon, Tucker Carlson and Elon Musk to politicians like Kevin McCarthy, Marjorie Taylor Greene and Ron DeSantis.
There were plenty of self-deprecating jokes by Biden, too — mainly about his age. “I believe in the First Amendment. Not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it,” he started.
“Look, I get that age is a completely reasonable issue,” he said, before joking about The New York Times‘ digs about his age. “You might think I don’t like Rupert Murdoch. That’s simply not true. How can I dislike a guy who makes me look like Harry Styles?”
“Call me ‘old?’ I call it being seasoned. You say ‘I’m ancient,’ I say I’m wise,” Biden continued. “You say ‘I’m over the hill,’ Don Lemon would say that’s a man in his prime!”
The president also made digs about his first two years in office, explaining the evening would be just like it. “I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions and cheerfully walk away,” he teased. Here is a recap of other humorous moments courtesy of People Magazine.
There were jokes about Biden’s just-announced reelection campaign, with the president teasing that most people expected he’d “just blurt it out” accidentally. “Like I’ve been saying, don’t compare me to the almighty, compare me to the alternative,” said Biden. “We added 12 million jobs, that’s just counting the lawyers that defended Donald Trump!”
“This dinner is one of the two great traditions in Washington. The other one is underestimating me and Kamala,” he joked, referencing Vice President Harris. “But the truth is, we really have a record to be proud of. Vaccinated the nation, transformed the economy, urged historic victories and mid-term results. But the job isn’t finished. I mean… it is finished for Tucker Carlson.”
He went on to joke about the controversy surrounding Musk’s acquisition of Twitter. “I love NPR, because they whisper into the mic like I do. But not everybody loves NPR,” said Biden. “Elon Musk tweeted that it should be defunded. Well, the best way to make NPR go away is for Elon Musk to buy it. And that’s more true that you think…”
The Lemon, Carlson and Musk jabs were just a few directed toward the media. There were also three direct hits toward Fox News after their recently settled lawsuit. “It’s great that cable news networks are here tonight: MSNBC owned by NBC Universal, Fox News owned by Dominion Voting Systems,” said Biden.
“Last year, your favorite Fox News reporters were able to attend because they were fully vaccinated and boosted,” he added. “This year, with that $780 million settlement, they’re here because they couldn’t say no to a free meal.”
Joked Biden: “And hell, I’d call Fox ‘honest, fair and truthful.’ But then I’d be sued for defamation!”
And then there were the teases about Biden’s fellow politicians.
“I want everybody to have fun tonight, but please be safe. If you find yourself disoriented or confused, either you’re drunk or Marjorie Taylor Greene,” he began.
Of McCarthy, Biden said, “Y’all keep reporting my approval rating as 42%, but I think you don’t know this: Kevin McCarthy called me and asked me, ‘Joe, what the hell’s your secret?’ I’m not even kidding about that one!”
And when it came to DeSantis, Biden said he had “a lot of Ron DeSantis jokes ready, but Mickey Mouse beat the hell out of me and got there first.”
“Can’t be too hard on the guy,” joked Biden. “After his reelection as governor, he was asked if had a mandate. He said, ‘Hell no, I’m straight! I’m straight!’
This is the second White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in two years. The 2020 and 2021 WHCA events were canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prior to that, during the first three years of his term, Trump snubbed the gathering, telling reporters in 2019 that it was “too negative.” His White House staffers also began avoiding the event after Michelle Wolf’s turn as emcee in 2018.
The annual correspondents’ dinner traces back to 1921 and has historically been attended by members of the association as well as high-ranking government officials, including the president and first lady.
In March, the White House confirmed that Biden, first lady Jill Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and second gentleman Doug Emhoff would all attend the dinner — making it the first time each of the four key figures in an administration have been present at the event since 2016, when the Obamas and Bidens both attended. (Prior to that, the president, vice president and their spouses were all in attendance in 2006 and 2009.)
Last year’s event was attended by both Dr. Biden and President Biden, who noted that his appearance marked “the first time a president has attended this dinner in six years.”
He then took a swipe at his predecessor by joking: “It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague, followed by two years of COVID.”
This year’s dinner was hosted by Daily Show correspondent and podcast host Roy Wood Jr.
The annual evening is held in support of the White House press corps, scholarships for the next generation of aspiring journalists and awards that highlight significant work in political journalism.
Humor is good!