President Obama The Media

White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

President Barack Obama during his speech at the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Washington. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP

President Barack Obama during his speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner at the Washington Hilton Hotel, Saturday, May 3, 2014, in Washington. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin, AP


The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was last night, celebrating 100 years, hosted by Joel McHale, who joked that he wasn’t the first choice to host the event, since Jimmy Fallon had other plans, or something.

But, as usual, the president held his own when it comes to understanding this strange and unusual form of communication called, “humor.”

Some of the highlights included a video starring Vice President Biden and Julia-Louis Dreyfus sneaking out for some adventure, with cameos by First Lady Michelle Obama, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and House Speaker John Boehner.

Then it was President Obama’s turn to dazzle the thinking-dead in attendance.

Some of the best lines of the night included the president’s response to feeling disrespected by the media:

Sometimes I do feel disrespected by you reporters. But that’s OK. Seattle Seahawks’ cornerback Richard Sherman is here tonight, and he gave me some great tips on how to handle it. Jake Tapper, don’t you ever talk about me like that! I am the best president in the game! What do you think, Richard, was that good? A little more feeling next time.

On Rand Paul,

I watch the Olympics, we cannot believe what these folks do. Death-defying feats. We haven’t seen somebody pull a 180 that fast since Rand Paul disinvited that disgruntled rancher from this dinner.

As a general rule, things don’t end well if the sentence starts, “Let me tell you something I know about the negro.” You don’t really need to hear the rest of it. [Laughter] Just a tip for you. Don’ t start your sentence that way.

Speaking of Rand Paul, — [laughter] Colorado legalized marijuana this year. An interesting social experiment. I do hope it does not lead to a bunch of paranoid people who think the federal government is out to get them and listening to their phone calls. That would be a problem.

The Koch brothers, FOX News, and dealing with a Hillary Clinton campaign:

And speaking of conservative heroes, the Koch brothers bought a table here tonight. But they used a shadowy right-wing organization as a front. Hello, Fox News. I’m just kidding. Let’s face it, Fox, you’ l miss me when I’ m gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya.

As usual, the president poked fun at his “Kenyan birth,” smoking habit, as well as the roll-out and his sagging poll numbers– joking that democrats are leery of having the president campaign for them this year, acknowledging that when Sasha “needed a speaker at career day and she invited Bill Clinton.” He added, “I was a little hurt by that.”

He jabbed at the fact that Republicans hired a consultant to teach them how to speak to women, saying, “I understand America’s teenage boys are signing up to run for the Senate in droves.”

He also made some room on the funny bus for Rep. Eric Cantor, Governor Chris Christie, and Sen. Ted Cruz, and even had a laugh at conservatives’ odd infatuation with Vladimir Putin.

The president, as always, took a serious tone when talking about the press:

Even as we celebrate the free press tonight, our thoughts are with those in places around the globe like Ukraine and Afghanistan and Syria and Egypt. People who risk everything. In some cases even give their lives to report the news. And what tonight also reminds us is that the fight for full and fair access goes beyond the chance to ask a question.

And then reminded everyone in attendance that it wasn’t too long ago that African-Americans were barred from journalism school, saying,

…decades ago an African-American who wanted to cover his or her president might be barred from journalism school. Burdened by Jim Crow. And once in Washington banned from press conferences. After years of effort, black editors and publishers began meeting with FDR’s press secretary, Steve Irving. They met with the president himself, who declared that a black reporter would get a credential. Even when Harry McAlpin made history as the first African-American to attend a presidential news conference, he was not always welcomed by the other reporters. But he was welcomed by the president, who told him, “I’m glad to see you McAlpin.” I’m very happy to have you here.” Now that sentiment might have worn off once Harry asked him a question or two. And Harry’s battles continued, but he made history. We are so proud of Sherman and his family for being here tonight and the White House Correspondents Association for creating the scholarship in Harry’s name. [Applause] For over 100 years, even as the White House Correspondents Association has told the story of America’s progress, you’ve lived it too. Gradually allowing equal access to women, minorities, gays and Smericans with disabilities. Yes, radio and television and Internet reporters as well. Through it all you’ve helped make sure that even as societies change, our fundamental commitment to the interaction between those who govern and those who ask questions doesn’t change.

Then he closed by bringing out Katherine Sebelius, who jokingly fixed the glitch in the video-feed, and the two shared a hug for old times’ sake.

Only two and a half years left of this president. President joked, “I am the best president in the game!” It’s funny cause’ it’s true.