Biden mocks Trump at first White House Correspondents Dinner since 2019

President Joe Biden on Saturday opened his remarks at the White House Correspondents Association’s annual dinner with a pair of digs at his predecessor, who skipped the annual event for the first three years of his presidency before the 2020 edition was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Noting that he was the first chief executive to attend the event — a charity fundraiser which supports journalism scholarships — since then-President Barack Obama participated in 2016, Mr Biden said it was understandable that no president had attended in the intervening years.

“We had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid,” he said.

Referring to Mr Trump’s attendance at the 2011 edition of the event, when he was infamously mocked by Mr Obama, Mr Biden asked attendees to imagine if Mr Trump had been convinced to attend this year.

“Now that would have been a real coup if that occurred,” he said, mocking Mr Trump’s attempt to overturn the election he lost to Mr Biden in 2020.

In another apparent dig at his predecessor, Mr Biden said that American democracy is not a “reality show”.

Mr Biden also spent a significant portion of his remarks poking fun at himself, joking that he “had just been elected to the Senate” the first time a US president — Calvin Coolidge — attended the annual dinner in 1924 (Mr Biden was elected to the Senate in 1972).

The president also took a dig at Fox News playing host to anti-vaccine messages, by noting that everyone in attendance had to be vaccinated and boosted.

“I know there are other questions about whether we should gather here tonight because of Covid. Well, we’re here to show the country that we’re getting through this pandemic. Plus, everyone had to prove they’re fully vaccinated and boosted. So if you’re at home watching this, and you’re wondering how to do that, just contact her favorite Fox News reporter. They’re all here. Vaccinated and boosted!” Mr Biden said.

On a more serious note, Mr Biden heralded coverage of Russia’s war on Ukraine. “We’ve all seen the courage of the Ukrainian people because of the courage of American reporters in this room, and your colleagues across the world who are on the ground, taking their lives in their own hands,” Mr Biden said.

“You, the free press, matter more than you ever have in the past century,” the president added.

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