The five best jokes from Biden, Noah at White House correspondents’ dinner
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) returned Saturday night to a packed ballroom of journalists, policymakers and celebrities, with President Biden and Trevor Noah of “The Daily Show” providing the entertainment.
Both the president and the entertainer hit some serious notes, underlining the importance of journalists speaking truth to power. Noah said every journalist in the room should think of what Russian journalists living under government censorship would write and say if they could freely do their own work.
But there were also plenty of barbs, many of them aimed at Biden and the press.
Here are five of the most notable jokes from Saturday’s dinner.
Biden teases Fox News over vaccines
Biden has sparred with some reporters from Fox News, and he took a shot at the network’s coverage of the pandemic and vaccines.
Early in his speech, Biden thanked the more than 2,000 people in attendance for proving they are vaccinated and had tested negative for the virus that day, per protocols set forth by the WHCA. Everyone attending the event had to show evidence of vaccinations and same-day tests.
“So if you’re at home watching this and you’re wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter,” Biden said. “They’re all here, vaccinated and boosted. All of ’em.”
The room exploded with laughter as cameras on C-SPAN quickly cut to Fox’s White House correspondent Peter Doocy, who cracked a smirk and gave a head nod while attendees seated around him applauded.
There had been some criticism of the event for taking place at a time of rising cases. Anthony Fauci, the government’s top expert on infectious diseases, declined to attend.
Noah pans large gathering during pandemic
That the dinner was taking place at all was the first thing Noah hit on as he joked about hypocrisy over the event.
“It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event,” he said as he began his set. “Do you even read any of your own newspapers? … You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large gatherings. Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan.”
Saturday’s dinner came amid renewed concerns about large indoor gatherings.
Biden jokes about his age, poll numbers
Biden used his opening line on Saturday night to take a shot at himself.
“A special thanks to the 42 percent of you that actually applauded,” Biden said after being introduced. “I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have.”
Recent polling has shown Biden’s approval ratings at record low levels. Similar polling has shown public trust in media companies has steadily declined in recent years.
Biden took a more serious tone toward the end of his speech, applauding the press for dogged reporting during the pandemic, 2020 election and its aftermath.
The president noted Calvin Coolidge was the first president to attend the annual dinner in 1924, which he joked was right after Biden “had just been elected to the United States Senate.”
Noah prods Jen Psaki over reported gig at MSNBC
Noah made fun of the White House press secretary over her reported agreement to join MSNBC once she leaves the White House, news neither she nor the network has publicly confirmed.
“If it’s true, congratulations to Jen and your big career change,” Noah said, setting up his punchline. “But you know switching to MSNBC is going to be a big change because right now your current job is to make the Biden administration look as good as possible at all costs. Now that you’re going to be at MSNBC, you’re going to have to … you’ll be fine, actually.”
Noah also panned the network more generally for the content on many of its shows, which he said was “all about how bad” former President Trump was during his time in the White House.
“Now all their shows are all about how bad Trump is,” he joked. “Consistency is important.”
Noah takes a dig at Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz)
It was a passing quip, but the Comedy Central star’s joke about the moderate senator from Arizona landed well in the ballroom on Saturday.
“Who ever thought we’d see the day when a senator could be openly bisexual but a closeted Republican?” Noah joked. “That’s progress.”
Sinema has emerged as a controversial figure within the Democratic Party for her opposition to some of Biden’s legislative priorities.
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