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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL

White House Correspondents' Dinner. Aired: 9-10p ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And it goes back to your earlier question about hope and fear.

Fear induces closed mindedness. We'd like to build up barriers to prevent us from hearing things that may force us to re-examine who we are and what our attitudes are. And letting go of that fear, I think is important and leaders who feed fear typically are also ones who avoid facts.

(Cheering and Applause)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got to stay with you for a minute, President, and I'd love to hear Graca's view on this as well. So in many of -- I mean, around the world, there is seemingly archaic view of the role of women, in the workplace, in society. And many of these beliefs are often brought about our perceptions of our culture, through our religion, our traditions, our religion, our culture, shapes that. What are some of the -- firstly, do we need to steamroll those beliefs to be more modern? But also, what are the unintended consequences of social fabric? If we do?

OBAMA: Let's have Gracia answer this first because I find that if I suddenly have a whole bunch of opinions about women that are offered before women are for their opinions, at least in my household, I get into trouble.

(Laughter)

OBAMA: That's some wisdom there. I just want to communicate to all men --

GRACA MACHEL, NELSON MANDELA'S WIDOW: Let me let me start by challenging the notion that the way women are being treated in societies because of religion, you mentioned religion. And you mentioned also what you call the traditions. No, you said culture, the set culture. And I want to challenge this.

You know, there's no really culture, which denies the dignity of human beings. It's culture. It is traditions, and if you like, is this social, you know, constructs, a long centuries, if you like, which have been, for reasons if you go back again, to use the President's words, to defects, which led people who were in positions of power to develop those social constructions, and to say, a woman and a man because they happen to have different sexes. They are different, yes, but they have different value. Because it's not a question of being different, it is the value which

is recognized to a man and the value, which is recognized to a woman to say, a woman has matched value. There's nothing in culture, which will tell you this and there is nothing even in some religions, although along the years, it has been structured in a way we believe it's a religious issue.

You go to Islam, I'm not very familiar, but I have been told that no, it's not true that it's Islam, in its essence, which discriminates against women.

So let's deconstruct this, you know, and accept --

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we have been listening to former President Barack Obama there. He is at a Nelson Mandela event. And it's interesting that that he's speaking tonight. There's a lot going on, obviously in the country tonight. And he has been relatively quiet during the start of this 2020 presidential race. And so it's always interesting to hear his thoughts and interesting to figure out what role he will be playing.

And it was also just interesting, the content. I mean, he was talking there about how we need to listen to each other, and about how you can't practice selective listening, and about how there are some leaders who, you know, that don't want to listen or have their bias, they're sort of hardened. And that that sometimes leads to fear mongering, and I mean, we talked about these things all the time. That's -- so it's interesting to know what he's been thinking about while he's been in the background.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, and this is also to celebrate the legacy of Nelson Mandela and what he represented, and when you think about it, it all comes full circle.

[21:05:07] LEMON: We're sitting here again, with this very big group, a very diverse group of people talking about things that happened in our country and we get very animated, and passionate, and we should be as Americans, we should be about what's right and what's wrong.

But when you think about the legacy of Nelson Mandela, you think about the legacy of Barack Obama, whether you liked him or not or agree with his policies. He was the first black President of the United States. Nelson Mandela, overcoming apartheid. What we're dealing with now with the synagogue that that happened, what we dealt with six months ago with the Tree of Life, what we dealt with in Charlottesville, and on and on -- all of this is about race. All of this -- the central theme in all of this race and racism, overcoming apartheid, overcoming bigotry, and racism in this country.

If you don't believe that race is the third rail in this country, then you are delusional. If you don't believe that we have to address it and have those conversations like I had with Cliff Sims. And when someone brings up something that is completely false, you have to cut it off and say, "That's wrong, and don't do that."

CAMEROTA: Yes. But I mean, I think that what he was trying to say, if I can speak for a Cliff Sims, is he was saying there's a whole swath of people in this country who heard --

LEMON: That doesn't mean they're right. There is a whole swath of people that believe that apartheid was right. There are a whole swath of people who owned slaves and thought it was right.

CAMEROTA: Fair.

LEMON: And so if you come on, and you try to defend that, that does not mean that I should allow you or we should allow people to say things that are repugnant, and that are antithetical to who we are as Americans.

CAMEROTA: I hear you.

LEMON: We are just giving them a platform to spread disinformation and hate.

CAMEROTA: I guess, except that I think that what he is saying is also a reality. It's a reality. And it's a reality. And we I think we have to accept it, we can pretend that what they say that their perspective is so bad that we shouldn't listen to it and shouldn't give it any license here. But he is right. There is a whole swath of it in the country.

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: And you're right, Alisyn. I think one of the most compelling things former President Obama just said is that fear introduces closed mindedness. And so what we're dealing with in this country, and Don, I know you took exception with me calling the President a white supremacist is really is about white superiority.

LEMON: I didn't --

RYE: At least saying that you didn't say that. That's not necessarily your position. I don't necessarily distinguish that from racism. My point is that when you build a country, the foundation of that country is on white supremacy, and on racism, and on institutional systemic oppression, even beneficiaries that may not be overtly racist in their personal lives. They are beneficiaries of that.

So what you're seeing are people responding out of that fear of not being in a position of superiority anymore as diversity increases in this country, as people are competing for jobs with them who are equal to them, but perhaps paid less.

As you look at systems of mass incarceration and the facts that overwhelmingly black and brown people are there. So people are engaging in fear trying to protect what has always been there. Does that make it right? No. But as we celebrate or at least commemorate the 400th year of our arrival into this country as the first slaves, we have to acknowledge what it is.

CAMEROTA: M.K. quickly, your response to --

MARY KATHARINE HAM, CONSERVATIVE BLOGGER: Yes, I think, I think I disagree with Sims about Charlottesville. I am not -- I'm on your side about that. But I think he is right that people see the same events playing out and see them very differently, and what I disagree with you about, Don, is that people can do that in good faith. You can see the Mueller report differently in good faith and it's not just because you're hating on people, and it's not just because you're scared. It can just be because you have a different point of view.

So not all of these disagreements come down to that --

LEMON: We weren't discussing the Mueller report.

HAM: I know, but I am saying --

LEMON: We were discussing people who are cherry picking towards --

HAM: Yes, but I am -- I think he was making a larger point that and it's very true that there are silos of people who see things in the news cycle completely differently. And that does not always have to be a bad faith argument.

CAMEROTA: And by the way, we should mention that the reason we're dressed so festively for this event tonight --

LEMON: Oh by the way, just let me say this, I was dressed more festively.

CAMEROTA: I know you were.

LEMON: And I had to go and break into Jake Tapper's office and steal his suit.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

LEMON: So that I could be dressed appropriately for the news today.

CAMEROTA: You've downplayed the dashing.

LEMON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Though you're still dashing. Tonight is the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And this year is quite different than it has been for decades beforehand. This was and is always one of the most festive nights in Washington. And it's always been with the President and the White House and reporters and everybody gets together and sort of puts aside their differences for one night. And they generally roast each other and fun is had by all.

However, this year, it is different. The President decided that he was not going to come after last year because the comedian was quite controversial and insulted some people, they felt, in the White House and so this year, there is no comedian. There's a historian instead, Ron Chernow of course, "Hamilton" fame, and the President decided not to come and it's just a very different tenor.

[21:10:05] CAMEROTA: And so the organizers have decided that they're going to be celebrating journalism and the First Amendment and our Brian Stelter is there to bring us all of the color from inside and tell us how this White House Correspondents' Dinner of a different tenor and mood is going tonight, Brian.

LEMON: Looking very dashing, I should say.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: There is a different mood. Just for one night a year, just for one night a year, of course. There is a different tone this year. This event began with a moment of silence for the victims in California. And there are First Amendment pins like the one that I'm wearing that are being handed out.

This has become in the Trump age, more of an overt celebration of journalism. It was, you know, Sarah Sanders, who attended for the first two years, then decided this year not to be here. She is with her boss, President Trump instead showing up at the rally tonight in Wisconsin.

There's actually -- I've had some journalists here say, it's less tense as a result, because White House officials were banned from attending. Normally, a lot of lower level aides, Cabinet officials and aides, they like to come to these sorts of things and schmooze with journalists, none of that this year, on orders from President Trump.

It is yet again, another example of the hostility that the President is promoting against the media. But I do think we recognize in the polling, in surveys, most Americans see right through his attacks. He'll be at it again tonight at the rally, but most people see right through it. And that's the theme tonight. It's about journalism, the value of journalism, even in a very partisan polarizing age.

And let me just tell you briefly about the other pin I'm wearing. Everybody here receives this pin that says "Free Austin Tice." He's a freelance journalist who went missing in Syria more than six years ago. There's confidence that he is still alive. And so one of the motivations tonight, one of the themes tonight is about bringing back some of the journalists who are either in harm's way, who are missing, who have been kidnapped, and Austin Tice is one of those and that's why everybody here is wearing these pins.

CAMEROTA: I mean, look, I think that in some ways, you could argue that the President actually did the event a favor by refocusing it. By refocusing it on journalism, because I do think that it got away from it from a long time.

I mean, I remember at one of them, I've gone to many of them as even a college student, I used to like to kind of try to break into the event, because it all seemed so glamorous, but I remember I was at one recent event, Brian, where it was -- I was sort of surrounded by the cast of a "Modern Family," which was fun, but I wasn't sure exactly what the point of journalism was that year.

STELTER: What the point was.

CAMEROTA: You know. STELTER: Right. That's true. This red carpet, back here used to

line up a lot of celebrities. Not anymore and that's a good thing.

LEMON: Well, I do see it, Brian. I do see it, Brian and Alisyn. I mean, it's also the freedom of expression, right? We have political leaders. We have people who are in media. I do have to say, we've been talking about this, I enjoyed last night and enjoying today more than I have in recent years because it is about the Constitution. It is about the First Amendment and the freedom of the press.

And I went to an event today where we were celebrating our men and women in uniform and how journalists stand up for men and women in uniform and tell the stories of men and women in uniform overseas.

CAMEROTA: And vice-versa. I mean, let's be honest.

LEMON: And they stand up for us.

CAMEROTA: They stand up for our rights.

LEMON: And so I actually, you know, I agree in some way it is. I think it is actually better. I don't know if the stars, it doesn't really matter with that. But what is missing, here's the important part. We're all Americans. And I think in past years, every single President -- Democrat or Republican -- has come to the event, quit their -- what they felt about the media aside, realizing that we're all Americans that we can disagree and journalists of all stripes came together to actually celebrate America.

And I think it's sad that we can't -- that this administration cannot do that and cannot stand up for the First Amendment, especially when it's about the Constitution of the United States. That's, that's just sad to me.

STELTER: There's a really simple way to say it in five words, press freedom is your freedom. And that's something that I think everybody can agree on. When the press is free to report, then all of us are more free as a result.

And I think that might be what we hear later from Ron Chernow. He is the historian, the author of "Hamilton," the book that became the musical. I think he'll probably hit on those themes a little later tonight.

CAMEROTA: Okay. And you know, what's interesting, Brian, is that nobody has seen his speech.

STELTER: That's true.

CAMEROTA: So even the President of the White House Correspondents' Association has not signed off on his speech. So he's free to say whatever he wants to about the press, about the White House, about where we are in this country. So it will be very interesting to hear that renowned historian, what he has to say. So Brian, standby for us. We're going to take --

STELTER: All right, I'll go back in.

CAMEROTA: Okay, you go back. Go back, have more fun and come back out and we are just moments away from these speeches.

LEMON: Thanks, Brian. There's that room. Do you miss being in that room?

CAMEROTA: No, I'm okay. I'm okay.

LEMON: I'm good with this, yes. I'm good with it.

CAMEROTA: Yes, thanks so much. We'll be right back, everybody. More on the speeches.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:18:27] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HASAN MINHAJ, COMEDIAN Who is tweeting at 3:00 a.m. sober? Donald Trump, because it's 10am and Russia. Those are business hours.

WANDA SYKES, COMEDIAN: Dick Cheney. Oh my God. He's a scary man. He scares me to death. I tell my kids, I say, "Look at two cars pull up and one has a stranger and the other car has Dick Cheney. You get in the car with the stranger."

JIMMY KIMMEL, LATE NIGHT SHOW HOST: It's kind of hard to be funny with the President of the United States sitting right next to you looking at you and yet, somehow, day in and day out, Joe Biden manages to do it.

MICHELLE WOLF, COMEDIAN: I'm here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I'm not trying to get anything accomplished. So everyone that's here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

CECILY STRONG, COMEDIAN: Tonight brings together so many different ways of delivering the news. But you're all in this together, from the networks at the front, to the internet and cable in the back, all the way to the incredible print journalists who are bussing the tables.

CONAN O'BRIEN, TALK SHOW HOST: No surprise that Speaker John Boehner isn't here tonight. Speaker Boehner and President Obama are still struggling to get along. President Obama and John Boehner are kind of like a blind date between Anderson Cooper and Rachel Maddow.

In theory, they understand each other's positions, but deep down, you know nothing is ever going to happen.

SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: And then of course, there's Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, since I just assumed he was running as a joke.

Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic, because a Fox often appears on Donald Trump's head. [21:20:10] MEYERS: Donald Trump said recently he has a great

relationship with the blacks, though unless the blacks are a family of white people, I bet he's mistaken.

OBAMA: No one is happier. No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter. Like, did we fake the moon landing? Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Kidding side, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: Donald Trump is not amused that night, as you could see there, and that in fact, Don, was the moment that many people including, I think President Trump have said lit the fuse -- lit the fuse that he was going to run for President to I guess get back at the establishment that was or at least never have to be in that situation again, where he just had to sit there and take it.

LEMON: One of the -- someone I respect in politics said to me last night, he said, what was the most important White House Correspondents' Dinner? And I said, the night that you just saw that happened. Mary Katharine Ham.

HAM: Yes.

LEMON: You think that was the most important White House Correspondents' Dinner? And was that the one that said that -- where Donald Trump decided, "Hey, I'm going to run for President."

HAM: I mean, I think he has indicated that, right? I mean, I don't know who the joke' is on in this case. But yes, I think that was an important moment. I think it's one of the reasons he doesn't want to go back in that room. And I think that's fine, by the way. It's fine. It is not an attack. It's all good.

But I will say, I think this year is like the fire festival of White House Correspondents' Dinners. There's some important Instagram influencer, who got an invitation, now she's like, wait, this is just a dinner about journalists?

(Laughter)

HAM: There is going to be some very angry Instagrammers about this. No, I think this is what it should be. And I appreciate that the White House Correspondents' Association, in particular has added this year a prize for state government coverage. Because as somebody who came from a small town newspaper, that's a job that doesn't exist that much anymore and that needs a little cash infusion, and so that's what it should be about. That it's okay if he is not there.

LEMON: Ana, did Donald Trump get the last word in that, though?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: In what? LEMON: Well, the President -- the former President, you know, made

jokes about him, which everybody thought was, funny. Donald Trump --

NAVARRO: Look, I think Donald Trump has changed the presidency. I think he's changed the Republican Party. I think he's changed the country. And I think he's changed the White House Correspondents' Dinner.

To me the timing of this is very ironic, because we just went through the release of the very redacted Mueller report. And we saw that Sarah Sanders is in fact, a liar, who has been using the presidential -- the podium as a presidential spokesperson pulpit to lie to the American people.

LEMON: As Michelle Wolf pointed out last year.

NAVARRO: Exactly. Which is something that Michelle Wolf got pilloried for. There were even a lot of journalists who are not usually cozy with the White House that clutched their pearls, and were outraged at Michelle Wolf. Well, a lot of those journalists are all saying Sarah Sanders is a liar, and let's call a liar, a liar.

CAMEROTA: But it wasn't just the content. It was -- there was something uncomfortable that Sarah Sanders had to sit right there and take it. It felt -- it did feel personal last year in a way that it wasn't just a roast. She had to sit there with that grin sort of glued on her face while Michelle Wolf said somewhat more controversial things than often.

NAVARRO: But Alisyn, everybody has --

CAMEROTA: It just sort of jumped the shark at some point, I feel like.

NAVARRO: How many times have you know, CNN journalists sat there while they get roasted?

CAMEROTA: Of course.

LEMON: I've been in that room one year, remember the year I was caught by accident flipping off, Larry Wilmore.

HAM: Yes, I remember that.

LEMON: But I mean, it was all good -- and later that night, we ended up taking a picture together or whatever. But that's what -- that's what a roast is about. And don't tell me, I just thought about this.

NAVARRO: If you walk into that room, you are fair game.

LEMON: You bring that, you know, you said it's okay -- Yes, it's okay, if he doesn't go. You're right about that. But it's not as if he has not been roasted. There is a roast that is on "Comedy Central" now that is the Trump roast where people said much worse things about Donald Trump.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure he doesn't like that either.

LEMON: And he said no -- he wanted it. He sat there and laughed.

CAMEROTA: But it's a different crowd.

LEMON: Okay, different crowd.

RICK WILSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The White House ' Dinner where he got roasted was the super villain origin story of the Trump presidency. And it's indicative though, of Donald Trump in one way. He is a guy who doesn't like a fight or he can't be the guy who punches and leaves. It's kind of the bully principle of it.

He doesn't want to be in a room where somebody gets an unconstrained moment to go at him because he likes everything to be handled through the medium of Twitter or in a one-way press conference kind of situation.

CAMEROTA: And he did walk out, I think, at the end of that. Or that was so entrenched now --

[21:25:07] WILSON: I understand because of his character why he's not there. But I think, Ana is right. He has changed the way that everything works in this town. And so, you know, he's tried to disintermediate the presidency from journalism and media generally.

CAMEROTA: Rob, quickly, your thoughts?

ROB ASTORINO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR : No, I don't know, Larry Wilmore two years ago was funny. I thought it was really, really funny. And what made him funny -- and those in the past too is, they poke, right? They poke, but they poke here and everyone expected, it is within bounds, right.

Michelle Wolf was vicious, vile, crude and very personal, and she went after Ivanka. She went after Sarah Sanders. She went after Kellyanne. And the way she did it -- and the room was -- look, the room was cringing, right? And America reacted because it was just out of bounds. And that's another reason, I think the main reason why the impetus was, you know what?

LEMON: Is it because we were through the looking glass, and we were too close to it to see it, and Michelle Wolf said something that was so stark for all of us that we were like, "Ah, maybe she's showing us our reality."

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Mia.

ASTORINO: No, no, no, I think America gasped.

MIA LOVE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: There is this -- I felt as if it went a little too far with Sarah Sanders, also. I mean, she has got the toughest job. I mean, it is absolutely horrible. But I must say that, you know, I heard that Sean Spicer is there, it's probably because, you know, he knows he's not going to be in the line of fire. He's probably like, "Yes, I can go to this party now, because I'm not going -- you know, they're not going to make fun of me."

LEMON: I think Sean Spicer was covering a party for "Extra" last night for an entertainment program.

MIA: Well he is there tonight.

NAVARRO: Sean Spicer will show up to the opening of an envelope.

(Laughter)

MIA: He actually said that, too.

RYE: Maybe Ana should have done his roast.

MIA: I remember sitting and watching that Correspondents' Dinner and watching the speech, and my husband looks at me, and he's like, "Donald Trump is going to run for President and he's going make sure he wins." So I actually remember that moment thing, "Oh." He just jumped in. Shots fired.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, "NEW YORK TIMES": You know, I do -- I actually don't know that it's okay that he doesn't go. I mean, I think it could be okay in absentia, but think about the context of this. This is a guy who is attacking the media all the time.

You brought up the Mueller report. My colleagues at "The New York Times" reported a lot of those stories. They were correct. The report proves that the reporting was correct. And the President was attacking them day after day after day on Twitter. And so I do think by not going, he sends a certain message about how he views the role of the press in American democracy. And I do think that matters.

Look, I doubt any President wants to go and be insulted at this event. Who wants that? Nobody wants that. You probably don't want that either when it happened to you, right?

LEMON: Oh, yes. No, no, no.

LERER: It's not fun, but you go because you believe in the principle.

LEMON: If you're in that room and you are the subject of an insult, let's be honest, that's an honor. Because everyone knows that it's a joke.

RYE: Don is just Destiny Child, "Say my name, say my name."

LEMON: Yes, we're supposed to have a sense of humor. Laugh at yourself.

CAMEROTA: I'm sure I'd enjoy it that much.

LEMON: Before -- I know you have to go into a break, the producer --

NAVARRO: Let's also remember that the President gets a turn at that and at the podium. LEMON: To say whatever he wants. Yes.

NAVARRO: To roast the people who are there.

LEMON: Hold on. I know you've got to get to the break. Producers, don't kill me. When we were talking about the report, I wanted to make this point where people said that they can look at -- you said, they can look at the Mueller report and see what they wanted to see. Most people have not read the Mueller report. What they did here with someone else's version of what the Mueller report was about, and perhaps that is why they are perceiving the Mueller report to be the way that they perceive it to be. So that's all I have to say.

CAMEROTA: All right, on that note.

(Laughter)

CAMEROTA: Next, the best moments from Presidents at previous dinners, and the speeches are moments away as well.

LEMON: Look at that room. Exciting. Wow. Action.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:32:29] CAMEROTA: All right, the White House Correspondents' Dinner is about to get underway. But first, we cannot forget this. There are 556 days until the next presidential election. I barely feel ready. And the race is already breaking records with the largest Democratic field ever, as you can see from your screen. When it comes to money and the polls, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are the front runners this many days beforehand. So what does this mean for November 3rd?

LEMON: It means it's early? There's a long way to go, right>?

CAMEROTA: That's right. So how does it normally work? Do the early leaders in the race usually end up winning? CNN politics senior writer and analyst Harry Enten has for some reason followed us to Washington and he went back in time. He got him his time machine and airplane to see what he can learn from history. He joins us now with an in-depth look on primary contests of the past. Hi, Harry.

LEMON: Harry.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER AND ANALYST: Can I point out that we're in the same room, but I feel like the weatherman, you know, just pushed away from everybody else. I feel like the weatherman by the way.

LEMON: We did that on purpose, Harry.

ENTEN: Well, I'm sorry, Don, but I'm going to visit you after this. At any event, let's take a look at some of these past campaigns. And first, we can look back to 1972 when the Democrats were trying to feel the challenger, Richard Nixon. It was the first year Joe Biden ran for the United States Senate. And what we see at this point was Ted Kennedy, who didn't even run was leading the pack, according to a Gallup poll, while the eventual Democratic nominee, George McGovern was only at 5 percent only at 5 percent.

So I think that a clear example of, "Hey, sometimes people can come very much from behind, and the front runners don't always win." Here's another example, in 1988 with the Democrats, Gary Hart, at this point would be taken down by a scandal in just a few weeks was at 41 percent of the polls, Jesse Jackson 10 percent. Michael Dukakis, who was the eventual nominee was only at 5 percent -- 5 percent before ending up winning the Democratic nomination. But of course, we're losing the George H.W. Bush.

Let's take a look at another year here. Look at this, the 1996 Republicans, this is a year where the polls were actually right on. Bob Dole was up with 58 percent, blowing out the field, Phil Gramm was only at 14 percent. Bob Dole, of course, pretty much ran the nomination. Yes, he did lose New Hampshire, but he easily was able to capture the nomination. Of course, he lost to Bill Clinton come the fall of 1996.

Let's take one more look. Here we go. 2004 with the Democrats, Joe Lieberman, who of course was the Vice Presidential nominee for Al Gore back in 2000. He was leading the field at this point with 23 percent. He would win no primaries, no caucuses, while the eventual nominee John Kerry was at 17 percent. So he was just a little behind. But look, Howard Dino, we have apparently moved on.

Let's look -- sometimes that happens, folks. 2008 with the Republicans, Rudy Giuliani was at 33 percent.

[21:35:08] ENTEN: Way out ahead of the field. Of course, he didn't want a single primary caucus, while John McCain was a 22 percent. He of course would end up going to win the GOP nomination back in 2008.

So I took that time machine, I went all the way back. I wish I could change outfits for you. That would have been nice, but I couldn't quite do that. Not with the amount of time given.

CAMEROTA: So Harry, I mean, I guess I'm not that telling these many days out. So now get your time machine and come back here to the present. Thank you.

LEMON: A DeLorean. We need to get you a DeLorean.

ENTEN: Get me a DeLorean. I was a big fan of "Back to the Future." Michael J. Fox. Come on.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Okay. What's caught you off guard thus far? Are there any surprises?

ENTEN: Yes, I think there been a number of surprises so far. I mean, Pete Buttigieg, right? This was a guy who basically came out of nowhere. He's a South Bend mayor. He is less than 40 years old. I mean, for goodness' sakes, he was born just a few years before I am, and yet he has surged to third place in the Democratic field so far. Here's another thing that to me is also surprising. It's the women

that have been trailing. Remember, 2018, I think was the year of the woman, record nominations in the Democratic primaries, record number of wins for House of Representatives. And yet none of these women, none of the women running so far are in the top three on the Democratic side.

How about this one? Two older men that are leading? If you look at the polls, if you look at the polls, folks, what you see is that most voters, including most Democrats do not necessarily want to nominate someone over the age of 75. But so far, Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders are out ahead.

How about this one? Money raised. Yes, it's true that Democrats are raising a lot of money so far. But if you look back to 2008, which of course was 11 years ago, or 2007, to this point, which was 12 years ago, they were actually raising more money at that point. The leaders were then so far the Democrats had so far, which I think is kind of surprising given that I think that's a lot of enthusiasm on the Democratic side. But so far, the money raised hasn't necessarily match that.

Finally, Trump who? Look at all the democratic ads that have been run so far. The opening messages. Trump has barely gotten mentioned so far, despite the fact that Democratic voters are saying beating Trump is the most important thing on their mind. So far, the only person to mention Trump so far was this guy up here, Joe Biden, which of course may be part of the reason why he is leading in the polls.

LEMON: Interesting.

CAMEROTA: Maybe.

ENTEN: That's what I got, folks. These are the five things. You're all beautiful people over there, Don, Alysin.

CAMEROTA: Thank you, Harry.

LEMON: There are a number of reasons, I mean, come on. Listen, if you're the former Vice President of the United States. He has got the --

CAMEROTA: Yes, he has to be. He has name recognition.

ENTEN: Sure. Of course --

LEMON: He's got the most wattage out of all of all those guys. Look at that. Look at the stars. Wolf Blitzer.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, look at that big star. Wait a second, wow. What's he doing there?

LEMON: Who is that other guy right there.

CAMEROTA: Rick Davis.

NAVARRO: No, that was Andrew Gillum. That's who I meant.

CAMEROTA: Or Bakari Sellers --

LEMON: No, that's Andrew Gillum.

RYE: That's definitely Andrew.

LEMON: And Wolf -- those are the real stars right there. Hollywood, come on now. Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:41:35] CAMEROTA: Okay, this is Olivier Knox. He is the President of the White House Correspondents' Association. He is the person who came up with the idea that this should be a reset this year. So let's listen to him.

OLIVIER KNOX, PRESIDENT, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: ... an unusually robust workout. This year, our lawyer, George Lanier. When the White House stripped Jim Acosta of his credentials, I did the easy work of pointing out that no President should get to pick and choose who covers him while George did the hard work of drafting and filing our amicus brief in support of CNN.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: And that gets us in an admittedly roundabout way to this President. I don't want to dwell on the President. This is not his dinner, it is ours. And it should stay ours.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: But I do want to say this. In nearly 23 years as a reporter, I've been physically assaulted by Republicans and Democrats, spat on, shoved, had crap thrown at me. I've been told by senior administration officials of both major parties that I will never work in Washington again. And there was a brief moment in Afghanistan when I thought a soldier not quite old enough to shave, which shoot me dead for the crime of taking a picture inside the Presidential Palace. And yet, I still separate my career into the period before February of 2017 and what came afterwards and that's because February 2017 is when the President of the United States called us the enemies of the people.

A few days later, I was driving my then 11-year-old son somewhere, probably soccer practice when he burst into tears and asked me, "Is Donald Trump going to put you in prison?"

At the end of a family trip to Mexico, he mused that if the President tried to keep me out of the country, quote, "At least Uncle Josh is a good lawyer and he'll get you home." Hey, Uncle Josh.

I've had to tell my family not to touch packages on our stoop. My name is on a statement criticizing the President for celebrating congressmen's criminal assault on a reporter. I've had death threats, including one this week. Too many of us have.

It shouldn't need to be sad in a room full of people who understand the power of words. But fake news and enemies of the people are not pet names, punch lines or presidential.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: And we should reject politically expedient assaults on the men and women whose hard work helps make it possible to hold the powerful to account.

(Applause)

KNOX: That said, we can't lose track of attacks on the free press in a global context. So remember earlier I said that the Austin Tice pins would become important later. Please turn your attention to these pins. They were provided by Reporters Without Borders. Thank you to our RSF.

(Applause)

KNOX: Austin went to Syria in May of 2012 as a freelance journalist eager to tell the world what was happening there. But in August of 2012, as he was mapping his departure, he was taken.

A few months ago I interviewed Mark and Deborah Tice about their son. And when Mark and Deborah asked me whether I would use this event to shine a light on his plight, it was really easy to say yes. They've penned a letter to this room.

Quote, "Please take a moment to look around this room. You are often his colleagues. In his silence, Austin needs your voice.

[21:45:09] KNOX: "We ask that you take every opportunity to raise your voice from the newsroom to the White House. Take every opportunity to emphasize the importance of a free press and to speak out for the protection of journalists. We have no doubt that when you add on this responsibility, as you are this evening, you are heard and good things happen. The public becomes more aware of the risks you take, and is motivated to speak out with you."

"The halls of power echo and become channels of support. Freeing detained journalists becomes a priority. Your sustained advocacy helps bring them home. We know it will help hasten the day when we finally see our son walk free. So we thank you all for using your voices tonight, tomorrow and every day. We eagerly look forward to the day when Austin will be here to thank you personally."

(Applause)

KNOX: So here's what I would ask you to do. Take your Austin Tice pin, think of him and then pick another journalist anywhere in the world who has been targeted with violence, beaten, wrongfully imprisoned, retaliated against in some way. Pick anyone, I'm thinking of Austin and two Reuters reporters, Wa Lone and Kyaw Soe Oo imprisoned in Myanmar after they uncovered a massacre. (Applause)

KNOX: But unfortunately, the list is long and getting longer. Names like Marie Colvin, Jamal Khashoggi, Chris Hondros, Lyra McKee, Fezi Shemariah (ph), our colleagues at the "Capital Gazette." When you've picked a name to go with Austin's, please raise your pin. If you want to raise a glass, too, that's fine. Personal preference, I think it's weird to honor journalists with a moment of silence.

So I'm thinking of Austin, thinking of Kyaw Soe Oo and Wa Lone and to all the journalists around the world who are suffering for their craft.

(Applause)

KNOX: That's the international context and back at home, we should recognize that we face a crisis of information or several crises rolled up in one. Our privacy is constantly in danger and powerful corporate interests vacuum up our habits and slice and dice them to extract maximum profit. Broad swaths of the public mistrust the news media making it difficult to make decisions from a place of differing ideologies, but shared facts.

Now, skepticism of any powerful institution, including ours, is absolutely necessary. I am forever mindful of the wisdom from the great Mark Knoller of CBS Radio.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: Who said after a 2004 campaign rally that featured an unusually hostile welcome for the news media, Mark said, "Well, I'm one of us and I don't like us very much."

(Laughter)

KNOX: We should keep that in mind. We should also keep in mind that a rejection born of reflex, but not reflection is dangerous. What's also dangerous is the incredible erosion of local and regional reporting and that's why I'm pleased --

(Applause)

KNOX: That's why I'm so pleased to highlight the WHCA's partnership with the University of Florida's College of Journalism and Communications.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: To create an award that call your prize for state house accountability. This award gets his name from the founder of "Colliers Weekly," Peter Fenelon Collier, who's descendant Nathan, I believe is here tonight. Thank you, Nathan, wherever you are, if you're here, please stand.

(Applause) KNOX: Thank you. Together, we will give an annual prize of

$25,000.00 for the best piece of investigative and political journalism focused on trust and accountability in state government, and we will honor the winner at this dinner.

(Applause)

KNOX: Considering the magnitude of the problem, this is not a solution, but I hope it's a call to arms. Unless you think your governor or your state legislature or your mayor or your school board or the largest employer in your county are and forever will be above reproach, and even scrutiny, you should support local and regional journalism.

(Applause)

KNOX: Finally, I'd like to ask every person in this room who covers the White House in any capacity to please stand. And if you're a past President of the White House Correspondents' Association, please stand.

(Cheering and Applause)

KNOX: If you're a student journalists, please stand. Thank you for everything you do and have done and will do. Thank you.

[21:50:09] KNOX: Finally, I know some of you think I went too far in the past eight months or so. And some of you think I've not gone far enough. To those of you who've worked to hold me accountable with candid advice or thoughtful criticism, thank you, really, thank you.

And to all those of you watching here or on television, thank you as well. Please enjoy the rest of your evening.

CAMEROTA: He survived.

LEMON: Olivier Knox, the current President of the White House Correspondents' Association, giving a very powerful message there really talking about commending the work that journalists do in this country; also saying that, you know, it is a tough job. He expects the criticism to come, but also, he is talking about the times that we're living in now and some dangerous times for a number of journalists or many journalists in this country, especially the danger when he said, enemy of the people, and those labels that those aren't toy labels or fun labels, that's --

CAMEROTA: Absolutely, those aren't pet names, he said. And they've talked about Austin Tice who is a freelance journalist who went missing in Syria that everyone is wearing a pin to represent. And you know, I think that Olivier has a very challenging job.

He is the person who got rid of the comedian this year, which was not a popular decision, as you know, for some of the people in that room, but he wanted to refocus on journalism. I think that he just did that. I mean, he talked about how important it is what we do every day, how seriously we take it, and how particularly this year it can be very challenging here at home and abroad, obviously. And so we'll be hearing very shortly from the renowned historian, Ron Chernow.

Now, no one has seen his speech yet. It will be very interesting.

LEMON: Those are the student journalists -- at this part -- that they honor at this event.

CAMEROTA: Oh, that's great.

LEMON: It's a great thing that they do that.

CAMEROTA: They look really excited.

LEMON: Yes. Look at those fresh faces. Were we ever that young?

CAMEROTA: I don't know. Hard to remember now, Don.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:55:56] CAMEROTA: Okay, welcome back, everybody. You're watching Jonathan Karl there of ABC News. He is talking about the importance of great reporting and he is about to give out some journalism awards. Let's listen.

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: ... and a former President of the White House Correspondents' Association. This year's Aldo Beckman award goes to McKay Coppins of "The Atlantic"

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: So McKay, I want to read a little bit from the judges. I love this. I love this description. They say, "Reading McKay Coppins stories is sheer joy. Amazing storytelling. His profiles of key players in the Trump administration," the judges write, "Were impossible to put down, sewing together a lot of detail to create complex portraits that increased our understanding of the current administration." So McKay.

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: By the way, Honorable Mention goes to the great Ashley Parker of "The Washington Post."

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: Next up, the Merriman Smith award. The Merriman Smith award honors presidential news coverage under deadline pressure. The award is in memory of the legendary Merriman Smith of United Press International, a White House correspondent for more than 30 years.

The award was conceived to perpetuate Mr. Smith's memory and to promote excellence that he brought to the profession. It is given in two categories -- broadcast and print. Now the Merriman Smith award for print goes to someone whose tireless commitment to great reporting has been recognized so many times that I think he deserves a permanent spot on this stage. The Merriman Smith award for print goes to Josh Dossey of "The Washington Post." Again.

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: Specifically, it's for Josh's story, and this is an exact quote from the headline of his story, "Trump derides protections for immigrants from 'shithole' countries." I'm sorry, mom, those are not my words.

From the judges, "Josh Dossey relied on multiple sources for his exclusive report on the language used by President Trump in a meeting on immigration with members of the Senate. Dossey worked on deadline, but added context and detail as he worked the story. His entry epitomizes the criteria for the award -- speed, accuracy, objectivity and initiative." So the Merriman Smith award, the great Josh Dossey.

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: All right, the Merriman Smith award for broadcast goes to Ed Henry of Fox News.

(Cheering and Applause)

KARL: And the award is for an interview that we all -- that we all remember at -- Ed, simmer down. This is big. For Ed Henry's interview with EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Scott Pruitt was already in trouble for ethical matters when he sat down for an interview with Ed Henry at Fox News, and he probably got an interview that didn't expect to get.

Henry in the words of "The Washington Post" lobbed question after question at Pruitt about big pay increases for cronies and a sweetheart deal for renting an apartment from a lobbyist. Pruitt struggled to answer and soon found himself out of it.

[22:00:10]