Several Key Highlights From The White House Correspondents’ Dinner
There were several key highlights from the White House Correspondents’ dinner on Saturday, as President Joe Biden mixed humor with a serious call for the release of wrongly detained Americans abroad. The event, held at the Washington Hilton, brought together thousands of guests in support of press freedom, which Biden described as "the cornerstone of a free society, not the adversary."
Below are the key highlights from the dinner this year.
Biden Wants Unjustly Imprisoned Americans Released
Biden seized the opportunity to use the platform of a gathering of press freedom supporters to send a powerful message: “Journalism should never be considered a criminal act.”
At the outset of his speech, Biden addressed the unjust detentions of American journalists Evan Gershkovich in Russia and Austin Tice in Syria, reassuring the journalists and families in attendance that his administration is working tirelessly to bring them back home.
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I assure you, I'm doing everything in my power to bring them home.
- US President Joe Biden
Among the guests present at the event was Brittney Griner, the WNBA athlete who was released from wrongful detention in Russia in late 2022. Biden and First Lady Jill Biden also met with Griner and her spouse in a private pull-aside meeting, according to the White House pool.
Additionally, the president and first lady held a private meeting with the family of Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal reporter whom the US State Department has designated as “wrongfully detained” in Russia. A number of journalists at the event wore pins in solidarity with Gershkovich, calling for his release.
Earlier on Saturday, Dasha Navalnaya, the daughter of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, told CNN that the White House Correspondents’ dinner is a particularly significant occasion for those who are wrongly imprisoned because “America as a country stands for freedom of speech and political expression.”
Roy Wood Jr. Targets Washington
Roy Wood Jr., famous for his role on “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central, delivered a scorching roast of Washington politics on Saturday night, taking aim at both political parties.
He wasted no time in addressing the classified documents discovered at Biden's residence in Delaware, jokingly telling the president as he stepped away from the podium, “Just a quick heads up, Mr. President. You might have left some classified documents up here.”
Wood also poked fun at the protests in France triggered by the government's decision to raise the retirement age. “Meanwhile, in America, we have an 80-year-old man begging us for four more years of work,” he quipped, in reference to Biden's bid for re-election.
The comedian then went on to label former President Donald Trump as the “king of scandals.”
“Keeping up with Trump's scandals is like watching Star Wars movies,” he quipped. “You have to watch the third one to comprehend the first one, then you can't miss the second one because it contains Easter eggs for the fifth one.”
Moments from the 2023 White House Correspondents' dinner | GMA
Biden Makes Fun Of Trump
During his speech, Biden didn't hold back on making jokes about his predecessor's recent scandals. He began by quipping that he was offered $10 to keep his remarks under ten minutes. “That’s quite a switch, a president being offered hush money,” he joked, referring to Trump's alleged involvement in a hush-money scheme.
Biden also took a jab at Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, who is likely to be a top candidate for the GOP presidential nomination if he enters the 2024 race.
According to Biden:
I had a lot of Ron DeSantis jokes ready, but Mickey Mouse beat the hell out of me, he got there first.
- US President Joe Biden
This was in reference to Disney's recent lawsuit against the governor and his oversight board, accusing him of punishing the company for exercising its free speech rights with his political influence.
Journalists Celebrated And Made Lighthearted Comments
At the White House Correspondents' dinner, journalists were recognized for their impactful work in the previous year. Among those honored were CNN's Phil Mattingly for his coverage of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's visit to Washington, and Politico for publishing the Supreme Court draft opinion that would later overturn Roe v. Wade.
While applauding the journalists for their work, Biden made light of their tough questioning. He joked about his age being a reasonable issue on everyone's mind, referring to his reelection bid, and singled out The New York Times for its coverage.
Biden also joked about his dodging of the media's questions, saying that the dinner summed up his first two years in office: "I'll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions, and cheerfully walk away."
The media industry has recently faced several challenges, including high-profile terminations and layoffs. Wood addressed this head-on, mentioning Tucker Carlson's departure from Fox News and prompting applause. However, he also acknowledged the staff affected by the sudden departure of the host of a fake news program, as he too works on "The Daily Show."
Celebrities Show Out
Numerous celebrities were among the attendees at Saturday’s gathering, including model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen, accompanied by her husband, singer John Legend. Actress Julia Fox was seen posing with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, while actresses Rosario Dawson and actors Liev Schreiber and Billy Eichner also walked the red carpet.
During the event, Drew and Jonathan Scott, the identical twin brothers who host HGTV’s “Property Brothers,” delivered a sketch-style video in which they drew big laughs, showcasing how they would renovate the White House. “We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we think we know how to turn the White House into the White Home,” the duo said in their video.