President Joe Biden joked about a variety of topics at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, but struck a serious tone when he called for the release of Americans wrongfully detained abroad.
The annual dinner, held inside the Washington Hilton, drew thousands of guests in support of press freedom, which Biden called “a pillar of a free society, not its enemy.”
Here are the highlights from this year’s dinner.
Biden took the opportunity to address the crowd in support of press freedom: “The press is not a crime.”
He began his remarks on a serious note, immediately addressing the wrongful detention of American journalists Evan Gershkovich in Russia and Austin Tice in Syria, to a room full of journalists and the families of prisoners his administration is committed to bringing home.
“I promise you, I’m working like hell to get them home,” Biden said.
Attended Saturday evening Brittney Griner, the WNBA star was released from Russia late last year after being wrongfully detained. Biden and first lady Jill Biden held a tug-of-war meeting with Kreiner and his wife at the event, by the White House pool.
The president and first lady also met privately with the family of Wall Street Journal reporter Gershkovich, who the US State Department considers “wrongfully detained” in Russia. Many journalists wore pins to demand his release.
Dasha Navalnaya, the daughter of jailed Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny, told CNN earlier Saturday that the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was an important event for those wrongfully detained because “America as a country represents freedom of speech, freedom of political expression. ”
Roy Wood Jr. pokes fun at President Biden’s age
Comedian Roy Wood Jr., best known for his role on Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” didn’t hold back on his roast of Washington politics Saturday evening, saving jabs for both sides.
He immediately addressed classified documents found at Biden’s Delaware home, telling the president as he stepped away from the stage, “Real quick, Mr. President. I think you left some of your classified documents here.
Wood also pointed to protests in France in response to the government raising the pension age. “Meanwhile in America, an 80-year-old man is begging us for four more years of work,” he said, pointing to Biden’s re-election bid.
But the comedian called former President Donald Trump the “king of scandals.”
“Following the Trump scandals is like watching the Star Wars movies,” he said. “You have to see the third one to understand the first one, and then you’ve got it – you can’t miss the second one because you’ve got Easter eggs for the fifth egg.”
Biden’s jokes, meanwhile, include several aimed at his predecessor’s recent scandals.
He joked that he would be paid $10 to pitch his comments for ten minutes. “It’s a switch, a president being paid hush money,” he quipped, referring to Trump’s accusations of an alleged hush money scheme.
Biden also poked fun at Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, a front-runner for the GOP presidential nomination if he enters the 2024 race.
“I had a lot of Ron DeSantis jokes ready, but Mickey Mouse beat me to it, he got there first,” Biden said.
Disney filed a lawsuit earlier this week against the governor and his oversight committee, accusing him of punishing the company for using its speech rights with his political influence.
CNN’s Phil Mattingly and Politico published a Supreme Court draft opinion on Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit to Washington, then Roe v. Overtaking Wade, several journalists were honored at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner last year for their influence.
While Biden applauded reporters for their work, he scoffed at their tough questions.
“I understand that age is a completely legitimate issue that’s on everyone’s mind,” he said, referring to his re-election bid. “By everyone I mean the New York Times.”
Biden also joked about how he dodges questions from the media. “In many ways, this dinner sums up my first two years in office: I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions and leave happy.”
In recent weeks, the media industry has taken a number of hits — from high-profile decisions to layoffs, Wood intervened to address.
“The untouchable Tucker Carlson doesn’t have a job,” Wood said, referring to the anchor’s departure from Fox News, which prompted applause.
“Well, some people celebrate it,” he replied. “But to Tucker’s staff, you should note that I know how you feel. I work at the Daily Show, so I’m also blindsided by the sudden departure of a fake news anchor.
Saturday’s event was attended by several celebrities, including model and TV personality Chrissy Teigen and her husband, singer John Legend.
Actress Julia Fox posed with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, while actress Rosario Dawson and actors Liev Schreiber and Billy Eichner all took turns on the red carpet.
During the event, identical twin brothers Drew and Jonathan Scott, hosts of “Property Brothers” on HGTV, drew big laughs as their sketch-style video showcased how they would renovate the White House.
“We’ve been doing this long enough that we think we know how to make the White House the White House,” the pair said in the video.
“Friend of animals everywhere. Coffee maven. Professional food trailblazer. Twitter buff.”