Saturday, April 30, 2016

Obama roasts the media, RNC and, of course, Trump at annual dinner

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Obama roasts the media, RNC and, of course, Trump at annual dinner

Obama roasts the media, RNC and, of course, Trump at annual dinner

The president delivers his final address at the 102nd annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.
President Barack Obama has his first laugh at the dinner shortly after being seated.
President Barack Obama has his first laugh at Saturday's dinner shortly after being seated. | AFP/Getty
It was President Barack Obama’s final White House Correspondents’ Dinner as president – and he hopes the country will be around to see another one.
“It’s an honor to be at my last, and perhaps the last correspondents’ dinner. You all look great; the end of the Republic has never looked better,” he said, kicking off his remarks Saturday night at the 102nd annual event that brings together journalists, politicians and celebrities for a dinner and celebration at the Washington Hilton.
“It’s my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. I am excited. If this material works well, I’m going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans,” he said, jabbing Hillary Clinton, before slinging other barbs at Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Reince Priebus.
Bernie Sanders, who attended the dinner, is “the bright young face of the Democratic Party”; Bloomberg is “actually worth the amount of money he says he is” – a pointed dig at Donald Trump – and Hillary Clinton is the aging family aunt who just signed up for Facebook.
“You’ve got to admit, though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative just signing up for Facebook. ‘Did you get my poke?’ the president joked.
“Bernie, you look like a million bucks — or we’ll put it in terms you’ll understand: You look like 37,000 donations of $27,” Obama added.
As for the Republican National Committee: “Guests were asked if they wanted steak or fish, and a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan.”
On Ted Cruz: “He went to Hoosier country, called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks? Football hats? But sure, I’m the foreign one.”
He also poked fun at The Washington Post, Buzzfeed and the Boston Globe’s “Spotlight” investigation team.
The president was expected to light into Trump, the Republican presidential front-runner who famously bristled while the president roasted the mogul in person as he sat at the dinner in 2011. And he didn’t hold back.
“The guy wanted to give his hotel business and boost, and now we’re praying that Cleveland makes it through July,” Obama said. “I’m a little disappointed he wasn’t here tonight. We had so much fun last time.”
He also appeared in a pre-recorded video with former House Speaker John Boehner, discussing their mutual retirements – and pervasive nicotine habits.
Self-deprecating as the occasion requires, Obama said of himself: “In my final year my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high, I was trying to decide on my major.”
“Nightly Show” host and comedian Larry Wilmore appeared to fall slightly flat compared with previous raucous acts that have followed the president. He roasted Obama on the toll his years as president have taken.
“You look terrible Mr. President ... Your hair is so white it tried to punch me at a Trump rally. It’s so white it keeps saying 'All Lives Matter.'”
Continuing a theme, he gave a “shout-out to the print media. No really, you have to shout. They’re all over 70 now.”
On Boehner calling Cruz “Lucifer” this week, he mocked the Texas senator and Republican candidate as the Internet’s favorite “Zodiac Killer,” saying that it was pointless for Carly Fiorina to be his vice presidential pick, as “serial killers always work alone.”
Politicians in attendance included Vice President Joe Biden; Democratic presidential candidate Sanders – sans tuxedo, as promised – former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, accompanied by her husband, Mark Kelly; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, with his wife, Callista; and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Democratic National Committee chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz was there, as was former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.
Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett was spotted chatting with former White House press secretary Jay Carney, while senior Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin also made an appearance. Although Trump declined to attend this year, his sons Eric and Donald Trump Jr. attended with their wives.
Movie star attendees included Will Smith, accompanied by his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, Jeff Goldblum, Emma Watson, Jared Leto, Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren and Star Wars luminary Carrie Fisher, who was accompanied by her pet French bulldog, Gary.
From TV, Kerry Washington was there with many of the “Scandal” cast alongside Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” and former “Apprentice” star Omarosa Onee Manigault. John Wall, of the NBA’s Washington Wizards, brought his mother, Frances Pulley, while U.S. soccer goalkeeper Hope Solo also was here.
Media bold-face names included CNN anchor Wolf Blitzer, NBC’s Savannah Guthrie, MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell and Fox News host Megyn Kelly. Soul singer Aretha Franklin, who performed at the White House jazz concert Friday night, also attended.
Before the dinner, first lady Michelle Obama chatted with Wilmore, while the president was spotted chatting with Gerald Seib, the Wall Street Journal’s Washington Bureau chief, and Carol Lee, the newspaper’s White House correspondent and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association. Biden, who sat at a table with Mirren and Bloomberg, was spotted chatting with Jason Rezaian, The Washington Post reporter who was released in January after spending 18 months in an Iranian prison.
The guests’ chatter filled the ballroom for much of the night as the flash of “selfie” and group photos lit up the surroundings. The night before, they’d partied at a series of glitzy parties around Washington, D.C., hosted by The New Yorker, Time and People magazine among others.
Lee, Jeff Mason of Reuters and Michelle Obama presented the annual WHCA scholarship recipients as the guests finished up their dinners, which included diver scallops, duck confit and potato soufflĂ©. Lee toasted Rezaian, who gave out the WHCA’s annual journalism awards after shaking the president’s hand.
“This is a big intimidating room, but it beats solitary confinement,” Rezaian said to cheers and applause.


From NYC tabloid writers in the 1980s to campaign reporters now riding the Trump rollercoaster, POLITICO Magazine’s latest MEDIA ISSUE takes a look at the press’ role in the rise of GOP front-runner Donald Trump.


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