White House Correspondents' Dinner Zingers: Pete Davidson Approves!
The White House Correspondents' Dinner was back after a two-year absence due to COVID-19, and President Biden became the first sitting U.S. president to attend since former President Barack Obama.
Held Saturday evening in the Washington Hilton Ballroom in D.C. — and open only to attendees who were vaccinated, boosted, and who could show proof of a new negative COVID test — the mostly maskless event was hosted by "The Daily Show's" Trevor Noah.
Before Noah's set, President Biden spoke, playfully showing the crowd and those watching on C-SPAN that he's got jokes!
"I'm excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have," he said, referring to the roomful of journalists.
He got his biggest laugh with a dig against former President Trump, who was not there. Noting no POTUS had attended in six years, he said it was "understandable... we had a horrible plague. Followed by two years of COVID."
He went on to say had Trump come, that would have been an actual coup, a reference to the events of January 6, 2021.
It has been said Trump's roasting at the dinner in 2011 by then-President Obama was part of why he ran for president.
President Biden also mocked Fox News employees, pointing out that they're all vaccinated and boosted in spite of their programming, and made fun of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg's youth (he's 40) with the quip, "I told my grandkids and Pete Buttigieg they could stay up late and watch this show tonight."
But it was Noah who landed the most comedic blows. Mocking attendees for attending a maskless event with COVID-19 still around, he said, “I mean, Dr. Fauci dropped out! That should have been a pretty big sign!”
He made fun of CNN's Jeffrey Toobin for his Zoom scandal, referred to Florida's Gov. Ron DeSantis as Trump's natural replacement ("You're smarter than him, you're slicker than him, you can walk down ramps!"), and of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) joked, "Who ever thought we'd see the day when a senator could be openly bisexual, but a closeted Republican?"
Biden was not safe from Noah's barbs, even though they were onstage together. "Ever since you came into office, things are already looking up. Gas is up, rent is up, food is up... everything!" he observed.
He also said Russia was upset Biden said Vladimir Putin should be "removed from power," but only "until someone explained to them that nothing that Biden wants actually gets done."
In spite of the digs, Biden laughed uproariously, and agreed when Noah confirmed he could get away with the humor without worrying about jail time later.
“In America you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable, even if it makes your readers and viewers uncomfortable. I stood here tonight and made fun of the President of the United States, and I’m going to be fine.”
He then asked Biden, “I am going to be fine, right?!”
The evening, which attracts all the movers and shakers in the media, plus a slew of big-name stars, was also noteworthy for being the occasion upon which Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson made it red-carpet official.
TMZ reports that Davidson was impressed with Noah's performance, saying as he and Kim left that the emcee had "crushed it."