President Joe Biden addressed the White House Correspondents’ Association on Saturday night, the first time a president has spoken at the event in six years. The event was cancelled during the pandemic, and former president Donald Trump shunned the event while he was in office.
The president joked about criticism he has faced in his first 15 months in power, and the press, the opposition, and Trump. “Just imagine if my predecessor came to this dinner this year” the president said. “Now that would really have been a real coup.”
Biden joked to the media: “I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have”.
He also made light of the “Let’s Go Brandon” slogan, which is used by opposition to swear at the president. “Republicans seem to support one fella, some guy named Brandon,” Biden said. “He’s having a really good year. I’m happy for him.”
Biden was addressing an audience of 2,600 people, including journalists, government officials and celebrities. Making light of recently leaked comments from the House of Representatives’ minority leader, Biden said: “There’s nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already put on tape.”
He also had a dig at Fox News. “I know there are a lot of 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 has to prove they are fully vaccinated and boosted,” Biden said. “Just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They’re all here. Vaccinated and boosted.”
In addition to speeches from Biden and comedian Trevor Noah, the event had skits from talk-show host James Corden, comedian Bill Eichner and Biden himself.
“Thank you for having me here,” Noah said to Biden. “And I was a little confused on why me, but then I was told that you get your highest approval ratings when a biracial African guy is standing next to you.”
As well as jokes, Biden praised the role of journalism in American democracy. “I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that you, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century,” he said. “You are the guardians of the truth.”