(The Hill) – The White House Correspondents Association’s Dinner on Saturday evening, headlined by President Joe Biden and hosted by comedian Roy Wood Jr., provided comedic relief from some of Washington’s most pressing and intense issues.
At times serious, and at other times lighthearted and self-deprecating, the remarks from Biden and Wood and the gathered room of national political press made for some noteworthy quips and interactions.
Here are the highlights of the dinner.
Biden pokes fun at himself, Fox News and gets serious on Russia
President Joe Biden laughs as comedian Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” speaks during the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Biden, speaking at the dinner for the second time during his time in the White House, made fun of his age, which has been highlighted as the 80-year-old president prepares a run for his second term.
“I believe in the First Amendment, not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it,” Biden said.
Biden also noted Don Lemon, who was fired by CNN earlier this month after coming under scrutiny after comments in February about a woman’s age and her “prime.”
“You call me old, I call it being seasoned. You say I’m ancient, I say I’m wise. You say I’m over the hill, Don Lemon would say that’s a man in his prime,” Biden added late Saturday.
Fox News was also the butt of Biden’s jokes, after the company settled a lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for over $700 million earlier this month.
“Last year, your favorite Fox News reporters were able to attend because they were fully vaccinated and boosted,” he added. “This year, with the $787 million dollar settlement, they’re here because they couldn’t say no to a free meal.”
Biden did get serious about Americans who are detained overseas in Russia, focusing on Evan Gershkovich, the jailed Wall Street Journal reporter whom the media industry has thrown their support behind. The president also advocated for Evan Tice, who was kidnapped while reporting in Syria in 2012.
“Journalism is not crime,” Biden said. “Evan and Austin should be released immediately, along with every American held hostage or wrongly detained abroad.”
Wood hits the media industry
Roy Wood Jr. poses for photographers as he arrives or the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. (The Hill / Annabelle Gordon)
Wood, a correspondent for “The Daily Show,” made fun of Biden — suggesting he left classified documents on the podium — but focused much of his remarks on media figures and news companies.
Wood’s appearance at the dinner came on the heels of the departures of Lemon from CNN and Tucker Carlson from Fox News.
“We gotta get Tucker back on the air, Mr. President, because right now there are millions of Americans that don’t even know why they hate you,” Wood said.
Wood also chided Republicans for their fight against certain education policies, including the teaching of critical race theory (CRT) and made scandal-ridden Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas the punchline.
“Anti-CRT policies are an attack on Black history and an attempt to erase the contributions of Black people from the history books,” Wood said to applause. “And a lot of Black people wouldn’t mind that erasure as long as that Black person is Clarence Thomas.”
Guest list included presidential hopefuls and celebrities
Former Arkansas governor and 2024 Presidential hopeful Asa Hutchinson poses for photographers as he arrives at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. (AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)
Along with Biden, Wood and Washington, D.C. journalists, the dinner was attended by presidential candidates and a number of celebrities.
WNBA star and Olympian Brittney Griner, who was detained in Russia for around 10 months after allegedly having hashish oil in her luggage in a Moscow airport, was at the dinner. Her detainment and release made international headlines.
Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson (R), who is running for president in 2024, also attended the dinner. He told The Hill he had the chance to meet with Griner recently.
The appearance of Griner and a number of other celebrities, including actress Rosario Dawson and actor Justin Hartley, marked a return for famous guests to the event, as they largely stayed away during the Trump years and the pandemic.
Biden embraces ‘dark Brandon’ meme
President Joe Biden attends the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Biden brought to life the “dark Brandon” meme that has been popular in political social media circles. The meme, usually featuring the president with laser beams blasting out of his eyes, signifies his supposed dark alter-ego, which supporters have used as a way to troll conservatives after accomplishments by the administration.
“I’m gonna be fine with your jokes,” Biden said. Then, putting on his aviator sunglasses, said: “But I’m not sure about Dark Brandon.”
The president’s acknowledgement of the bit was met with laughter and applause.
The meme has even been embraced by his 2024 reelection campaign team, with his website featuring a “dark Brandon” photo with “2024” under it.