President Biden arrives at the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Watch on C-SPAN https://t.co/U8Svz4LkS7 #WHCD #NerdProm pic.twitter.com/zCJKwYn6YF
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 30, 2023
One of the many blessings of the Biden administration is that the only people who have to pay advance attention to this event are the attendees and the caterers.
The horserace media touts have been very, very thirsty for another shot at their perceived Big Glamor TV Night — Politico even put together a ‘Thirsties Award interactive‘, theoretically to mock politicians who are a little too eager to get their faces into the spotlight, even when they had to reach back to Newt Gingrich to make quota. But it was the Washington Post style reporters whose long retrospective on The golden age of the White House correspondents’ dinner (yes, there was one) which had the best explanation: That ‘golden age’ started with Ronald Reagan and ended with Barack Obama. Or, to put it less delicately, between the Vanity Fair inflection point when ‘serious’ political media decided its future lay in gauzy photo shoots and sweet-beateners, and the Facebook / Twitter / TikTok inflection when instant social media disrupted that market entirely.
Best review I’ve seen so far, no surprise, from Deadline, where the professionals cover media projects. “Joe Biden Takes Swipes At Tucker Carlson, Don Lemon, Ron DeSantis’ War With Disney & Himself At WHCD; POTUS Promises To Bring Imprisoned Evan Gershkovich & Austin Rice Home”:
… “I get that age is a completely reasonable issue,” the 80-year old President quipped in a relatively short performance. “It’s on everyone’s mind, by everyone I mean the New York Times,” he added. “I like Rupert Murdoch,” Biden went on to say of the 93-year old Fox News owner. “How can I dislike a guy who makes me look look Harry Styles?”…
Speaking of his own White House bid, Biden added: “The job isn’t finished, I mean it is finished for Tucker Carlson.”
Getting laughs and some groans for taking a jab at longtime critic Carlson, Biden leaned in deeper to the Murdoch-owned conservative outlet. “Fox News, owned by Dominion Voting Systems,” POTUS said, bringing up the $787.5 million settlement the channel made earlier this month to avoid what looked to be a painful public defamation trial. Stating that FNC reporters were in the house because they “couldn’t say no to a free meal,” Biden added, “I called Fox honest, fair and truthful, and I could be sued for defamation.” …
Following a pre-recorded cold open of sorts from ex-California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the WHCD presented awards introduced by WHCA president and big Holly Hunter fan Tamara Keith. There were tributes to journalists Gwen Ifill and Bill Plante, some cringeworthy White House renovation advice from the Property Brothers, and some reminders of the hard realities of the world and the state of the press today. By the time it was Biden’s turn at the podium in the Washington Hilton ballroom, the joint was looking for some fun.
Having displayed an ability to stick in the satire shiv and speak seriously to the times at last year’s Trevor Noah-headlined WHCD, Biden took the opportunity of the second in-person nerd prom gathering of his Presidency to give the Beltway insiders and more what they wanted — which is a good sign going into 2024.
But not before speaking to those who were not able to be in the room tonight.
“The free press is a pillar of a free society, not the enemy,” the President told the crowd, quoting Thomas Jefferson and offering support to the attending family of WSJ reporter Evan Gershkovich who was hauled off to prison by the Putin regime on flimsy allegations of spying earlier this month. Noting the presence of the family of Austin Rice, who had been detained in Syria for years, a stern Biden added: “Journalism is not a crime, Evan and Austin should be released along with every other American held illegally abroad…I am working like Hell to get them home.”
In a DC ballroom populated by guests sporting #FreeEvan pins, former Putin prisoner and WNBA star Brittney Griner, who was a guest of CBS, was called out by the President and given a standing ovation. Also called to attention by Biden was media that trafficked in “lies told for profit and power” – though POTUS never mentioned Fox by name here…
Between powerbrokers, journalists, pundits and more leading members of the political and entertainment intersection, about 2,600 people packed into the WHCD tonight. It’s a tight squeeze that seems to alarm various VIPs not used to the crush. Among the Hollywood heavyweights spotted were Disney boss Bob Iger, Paramount Global monarch Shari Redstone, Warner Bros Discovery’s chief corporate affairs office David Leavy, Fox News CEO Suzanne Scott, Disney Entertainment co-chair Dana Walden and media mogul Bryan Allen.
Also in the ballroom were Oscar winner Ke Huy Quan, Rosario Dawson, Succession’s J. Smith Cameron, John Legend & Chrissy Teigen, and Lisa Vanderpump and Ariana Madix of Bravo’s Vanderpump Rules. John Leguizamo, SNL’s in-house Biden and Donald Trump James Austin Johnson, Caitlyn Jenner, SAG-AFRA prez Fran Drecher, This Is Us‘ Justin Hartley, White House Plumbers star Lena Headey, and Ray Donovan himself Liev Schreiber, who gamely stood for photos with a parade of attendees, were there too…
In addition to the celebs and execs, for the first time since 2016, both the First Family and the Second Family were in attendance with VP Kamala Harris and Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff joining the Bidens at the head table…
At the White House correspondents’ dinner, media organizations try hard to get famous (or even famous-ish) guests to sit at their tables https://t.co/8hDu4YWbeL
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 29, 2023
Process journalism! (Unpaywalled gift link, to use up my quota):
… Landing a Good Guest is a time-honored art form in Washington. A Good Guest can help validate the importance of a news organization, become a source for news, or — if their presence helps lure donors — a future source of revenue. A Good Guest can help you lure other guests (Good or otherwise) to parties and fundraisers. The Gridiron Club, a semi-secret organization of journalists, takes guest work so seriously that each year before their annual white-tie dinner they hold their version of a fantasy football draft: Members draw a number and then pick their tablemates from a list of boldface names (they call it an “auction”).
There are no events in Washington, however, that take guest lists quite as seriously as the correspondents’ dinner — or ‘nerd prom’ to the nerds who love it…
Roy Wood, Jr (@roywoodjr): "Keeping up with Donald Trump scandals is like watching Star Wars movies…Donald Trump is the only politician whose scandals got spin offs on Disney+."#WHCD #nerdProm pic.twitter.com/FTTqMD9gMS
— CSPAN (@cspan) April 30, 2023
We knew DougJ when… !
Biden is a @DougJBalloon stan pic.twitter.com/Bjszfks2iH
— Keith Nagy (@nagy_minaj) April 30, 2023
Balloon Juice is an incubator of talent!
Glad to see Roy Wood Jr. get some exposure. He is a funny comedian with a good Twitter feed.
And DougJ—we knew him when!
Seriously, how pathetic is the NYT that DougJ mocking them can get the attention of the president of the United States.
A respectable organization would have a come-to-Jesus moment.
One-shot media footnote.
Even if you have no interest in (or actively dislike) the rest of the program, it’s worth an eyeballing of season 5*, episode 4 of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel on Prime just for the wonderfully tacky production number staged at an industrial show to drum up business for a waste management company. To justify hiring all those extras, there’s a modified second version later on in the same episode too.
*Season 5 unfortunately ran out of steam from the get-go (IMHO). Weak sauce, with just enough bright spots reminiscent of the show’s better days to partially make up for the decline. But what’s mentioned above is hilariously right on the money when it comes to those type of industry gatherings.
Those are such terrible jokes, but I love them. Also, in that first clip why is a Joe Biden look-alike applauding Joe Biden?
@Baud: A respectable paper would. U answered your own question
I said to my husband, “I know that guy from Balloon Juice!” Really feels as if we know each other sometimes.
Lets hear it for…
Slinkies in Spaaaaace!
This stuff is seriously cool
Even though I have nothing to do with DougJ’s success, I said in the late night thread that I feel like a proud parent.
@Baud: It seems to me that sooner or later most organizations get so self important that they deserve to be mocked. Few are capable of learning anything from their “come to Jesus moments”. They just tell themselves that those people are just jealous.
Shit, the President flat-out quoted DougJ with attribution. (Well, pseudonymous attribution.)
Joe is such a nice guy, you can see in the first clip he thanks the Marine band for their rendition of Hail to the Chief and they’re clearly pleased, especially the guy in front. Tfg probably treated them like furniture.
If we aren’t careful DougJ is gonna get a big head. :-)
@Baud: It gives the rest of us something to strive for, while we continue to metaphorically live in Cole’s basement.
OMG he’s going to become the next Nate Silver, isn’t he?
@NotMax: I could not decide whether the show had run out of steam or I had lost interest. (i’ll do that) but I still love her clothes, and Suzie.
@Baud: I can see it happening as we speak! Just think of what that will do to his son!!! We must save the little children!
DougJ is a huge celebrity now. That callout from Biden cements his invitation to nerd prom next year. He’ll never come back here to mingle with us hoi polloi now.
Q: How bad is the FTFNYT?
A: It’s so bad that DougJ’s scathing satire of them was just name checked by the POTUS as indistinguishable from the real thing.
Yeah, he’ll be like “Balloon Juice. Didn’t know it very well. I think they got me coffee once.”
Dorothy A. Winsor
Mr DAW watched part of the dinner on C-span. Yes, he is a nerd, but he’s my nerd.
Good for Doug J. When his twitter account gets suspended, maybe he’ll come home to us.
Suzie is a plum role. Irascible as the character is, she livens up every scene she’s in.
@geg6: We are not worthy
Balloon Juice. 70% hoi, 30% polloi.
@NotMax: 100% Oi!
Deputinize Eurasia from the Kuriles to St Petersburg
I liked it up to a point, but then it got old. I’d have stopped somewhere around mid season 2.
Handing the baton to Onslow.
Is very cool
Deputinize Eurasia from the Kuriles to St Petersburg
Onslow is the best. Love his spirit – he’s like the anti-Richard.
That’s two people who became famous that I knew “way back when”. I posted with Digby waaaaaay back in 1998 on the “Brill’s Content” message boards. She came to another message board with a bunch of us after “Brill’s” folded. That’s where I learned how to debate online! She was always an outstanding poster, so I wasn’t surprised when she became a successful blogger.
Wish me luck, my singing group’s end- of-semester concert is today. All the choirs at the university combine to become Grand Chorus, some 200+ of us. We’re doing Britten’s “Sea Symphony” with orchestra and soloists. It’s quite the work. These concerts are fun, but I’m ready to do it. Then we resume working on music for the Carnagie Hall trip in June!
@kalakal: Very cool.
Good luck! I know for theater you say “break a leg,” not sure what to say for choral groups…
Speaking of Carnegie Hall and singing, have you seen Florence Foster Jenkins?
@Soprano2: You’re going to sing at Carnegie Hall? Zowee.
@Soprano2: In the early-2000s blogosphere there was a thing called the “Koufax Awards” for liberal political blogs. One of the categories was “Best Commenter” and one year I somehow ended up nominated for my perennial commenting at The Poor Man. But I ended up being beaten by Digby, and I’m happy about that because frankly a lot of what I was saying back then now embarrasses me and I disown it.
Dorothy A. Winsor
@Soprano2: That sounds like a great concert today, and then Carnegie Hall. You and Doug J. I am so impressed.
“Why liberals need to give Bush a chance.”
“Bold choice, a 200+ person chorus belting out Push, Push in the Bush if it were written by Handel.”
*Misspselling Carnegie voids all Pittsburgh bona fides for a probationary term of no less than thirty days.
@Soprano2: You know how to get to Carnegie Hall, right? Congrats on all the rewards for all the hard work you and your chorus mates have put in.
“Turn left at the deli.”
@Soprano2: Good luck and congrats!
@NotMax: Damn. I always turned right at the deli. No wonder I could never find it.
@kalakal: Take that Continental Gatorskins!
@Baud: I wasn’t particularly telling other people to give him a chance but I WAS giving him a chance, which he did not deserve
I was in a very “bend over backwards to be fair to the other side” mode until about the middle of 2003. After that I went into a “bend over backwards to be fair to Internet Marxists and anarcho-syndicalists” mode and that kind of turned out to be almost as bad.
@Soprano2: Splendid work! Congratulations and best eishes.
You got better.
@Baud: But where did he get the coconuts?
Good luck on your concert! And I’m sure the Carnegie Hall trip will be amazing.
@Baud: That’s unclear. You don’t necessarily know these things until years later.
Mike in NC
Refreshing to have a normal president who can poke fun at himself, rather than a malignant narcissist who wanted people to bow down in his presence and called the free press “the enemy of the people” when it failed to kiss his fat orange ass.
Try to imagine Meatball Ron at the WHCD! His overseas trip was a dismal failure and he got laughed out of every country he visited. Go to Russia next time, Ron. They love a good authoritarian.
Alas, I have never actually met Mr. J (Mr.Balloon? Mr. Doug? Sir? Your PitchBotness?)
But I do have some 2018 emails from him when we co-ordinating posting about PostCards and Fund-Raising.
Should I get those framed?
We may have all known him back in the day. But, seriously, it’s talent and consistency that got him ahead.
Go get ’em, Doug!
Forged in the fires of the balloon-juice comment section.
Merde merde merde (it’s what dancers say since we are too superstitious to say GL and break a leg just won’t do)
The phrase “nerd prom” makes me throw up in my mouth every time I see it.
Nerds know things, and nerds know they’re nerds. The Beltway press are trying to be the popular kids and they’re just really bad at it. That’s not the same thing.
Also, even a nerd knows you can’t give yourself your own nickname, which is essentially what “nerd prom” is.
@Mike in NC: “ Try to imagine Meatball Ron at the WHCD”
I think that’s the dictionary definition of awkward. And an SNL skit waiting to be written.
Good for DougJ! He’s in the big leagues. Bad for the NYTimes when a former (sigh) Balloon Juice front pager is so good at parodying the paper’s headlines that no one notices the difference between real headlines and fake headlines that insist on the both sides narrative, concern trolling, and the fact that everything that happens, no matter what, is good for Republicans and bad for Dems.
Yay for DougJ, Wood, and Biden.
Meanwhile, … Phys.org:
tl;dr – Expect, and plan for, the unexpected or tens of thousands will die.
“He’s Mr Loaf to you” – overheard at Epic records in 1977
@Baud: IKR? And to think I used to get mad at him because I’d get so easily triggered by his trolling! Come back, DougJ, all is forgiven! :)
Eta I hope our blog father picked up the phone and called to congratulate him on our behalf. (or text) also I hope dougj secures that account !
I never knew this! Added to the list of well-wishes. In fact, my theater’s last performance of Steve Martin’s Picasso at the Lapin Agile is today, I think I will wish all the actors a hearty “Merde merde merde” in celebration!
I’m old enough to remember when we were all DougJ.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
gotta admit, the T in NFT went right over my balding white head in real time
Not sure Jesus is enough to help them…
Especially as they think they are better than him….
@Mike in NC:
Go to Russia next time, Ron. They love a good authoritarian.
They will have to settle then, he’s not good at anything. Hell he doesn’t even get to minimally acceptable.
@eclare: No, I haven’t, but I know about it.
@Ramalama: Yep, my choir with other choirs. I’m so excited about it! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
@NotMax: Shouldn’t there be some poi there, too?
@MomSense: “Forged in the fires of the Balloon Juice comments section” – masterful!