Joe Biden between irony and seriousness at White House Correspondents’ Dinner

His predecessor Donald Trump had shunned each of these gala evenings with journalists. Joe Biden notably paid tribute to journalists covering the war in Ukraine and warned of “the poison that is spreading in our democracy”.

The president and the jokes are back, and the masks are gone, for the return of the White House Correspondents’ Gala Dinner on Saturday night in Washington, where Joe Biden made humor while pointing to Russia.

I am very happy to be here tonight with the only group of Americans whose popularity rating is lower than mine.“, first launched the Democrat at the start of his speech. And to mock his Republican predecessor Donald Trump, who never showed up to the party, he observed that the last few years had been difficult: “We had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid“.

Joe Biden then adopted a more serious tone, paying tribute to journalists covering the war in Ukraine and warning about “the poison that is spreading in our democracy (…) with the disinformation that is increasing sharply“. “You, the free press, are more important than you have ever been in the last century.“, he underlined.

And to pass the floor to the master of ceremonies, comedian Trevor Noah, he launched: “Trevor, the really good news is that now you can spoof the president of the United States.“. “And unlike in Moscow, you won’t go to jail“, he added.

Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, April 30, 2022. ALEXANDER DRAGO / REUTERS

The comedian began by saying he was honored to be the master of ceremonies of “the nation’s most distinguished supercontagious event“. A reference to the fact that the gala was done without a mask, even if vaccination was required there.

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Joe Biden, 79, was not wearing one, but he did not attend the meal, as a precaution. Its vice-president Kamala Harris had tested positive for the coronavirus last week.

The journalists “have been so hard on you, which I don’t understand“Launched Trevor Noah to the attention of the Head of State. “Since you’ve been in power, things are going up – you know, gas is up, rent is up, food is up. All“.

Joe Biden laughed, putting on a good face and trying to distinguish himself as much as possible from Donald Trump, the only president since 1980 to have skipped the traditional evening which dates back to 1924, organized by the association of journalists accredited to the White House (WHCA) .

Washington’s political and media elite remembers the Obama years, especially in 2011, when he targeted Donald Trump for his taste for conspiracy theories.

Once in power, the Republican president had shunned each of these gala evenings, he who regularly attacked journalists, “the enemies of the people“. During the last edition, in 2019, neither president nor comedian was present.

This televised dinner was back on Saturday evening in the American capital after the pandemic and the Trump years, when the president’s self-mockery and support for the press were not really in fashion. About 2,600 people in formal wear, journalists and their guests, attended at the Washington Hilton.

SEE ALSO – War in Ukraine: US ‘not attacking’ Russia, Biden stresses

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