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CNN Live Event/Special
Gayle King Talks About Alice Dunnigan And Ethel Payne; Steven Portnoy's Speech At The White House Correspondents' Dinner; President Joe Biden's Speech At The White House Correspondents' Dinner; Trevor Noah's Speech At The White House Correspondents' Dinner. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired April 30, 2022 - 22:00:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GAYLE KING, CBS NEWS ANCHOR: I am thrilled to tell you that this is the first time this award has been granted positively to the women, it's named after Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne. Their families are -- remember when I came in to get the test, well, I ran into family members. cousin Jimmy and niece Sylvia Peters who told me that aunt Ethel was elegant and eloquent. I like that. She was a bright star in dark times. Her light continues to shine everywhere. Their families are here. Family members, please stand. Thank you. Thank you.
Thank you, family. May the legacies of your grandmother and your aunt continue to inspire generations for decades to come. Thank you and bravo. Bravo.
STEVEN PORTNOY, CBS NEWS CORRESPONDENT, PRESIDENT OF THE WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENTS' ASSOCIATION: Well, folks what you have just seen is what this evening is all about. And we are grateful to be together to honor the legacies of Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne. One more round of applause, please.
President Biden, Dr. Biden, ladies, and gentlemen. We journalists are inheritors of a public trust. We're the guardians of the people's right to know what their government is doing in their name with their money. We are the questioners. The contrarians. Posing provocative queries so that government officials may be made to explain their views and defend their actions for posterity and for the free world to see.
And as in the case of the women we've honored here tonight, we are a privileged few, uniquely positioned to bring public concerns directly to those who hold or seek power. There is no perfect way to do this work. It is as it ever was. But it is now, at all times, an increasingly for-profit subject to (INAUDIBLE) and suspicions of bad faith or political motivation.
Working journalists in the United States have come under assault, harangued while covering street demonstrations, taunted at political rallies, harassed on social media. Their equipment gleefully destroyed at the Capitol on January 6th. In dangerous places all over the world, journalists are subject to jailing and intimidation for use of pen, pad, camera, and keyboard. They've been tortured, murdered, kidnapped. And we must never forget, Mr. President, at table 48 tonight is a woman named Debra Tice. Mrs. Tice, would you please stand. Now Mrs. Tice's son, Austin, is a colleague of ours at "The Washington Post" at (INAUDIBLE) and at CBS and he should be here with us tonight but he's been held captive in Syria since 2012. As we take note of Trevor Reid's return, our thoughts tonight are with Austin Tice and our collective hopes are that after nearly 10 years in captivity, he will soon return home safely to his mother, his father, his colleagues, and his friends.
We are thinking tonight of our colleagues in unsafe places everywhere, of Northern Virginia resident and Washington Post Contributor Vladimir Kara-Murza arrested this month in Russia for the high crime of speaking the truth about Vladimir Putin's war atrocities in a speech to American lawmakers. A charge that is an affront to free people everywhere.
And the brave journalists you are about to see have been killed in the past two months, covering Russia's war in Ukraine.
Needless to say, our prayers are with their families and with Benjamin Hall of Fox News who continues his recovery tonight.
75 years ago, before he demonstrated the power of television to highlight hypocrisy and allowed Americans to see and reject demagoguery, Edward R. Murrow read to his CBS radio audience from his contract. He noted that he agreed, in writing, that his broadcasts would contain facts, reported, "As fairly as possible to enable the listener to weigh and judge for himself."
We, who enjoy the protections of a free press know and should always remember those protections were established for the people. It is the people's right to know. It is the people's right to decide this country's future course. To gird our democracy, we reporters believe that in the United States no man or woman who holds or seeks power is above being questioned. Our democracy depends on journalists shining light and truth upon darkness and lies and bringing accountability to officials at every level of our government.
We gather here tonight to honor that work and to celebrate the American freedoms of speech, press, religion, petition, and peaceable assembly, without which our democratic constitutional republic could not survive. And in that respect, we proudly continue our tradition of raising a glass in a toast to the First Amendment and to the President of the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, President Joe Biden.
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, Steve, for that introduction. And a special thanks to the 42 percent of you who actually applauded. I'm really excited to be here tonight with you, the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have. That's hard to say after what we just saw.
This is the first time the president attended this dinner in six years. It's understandable. We had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID. Just imagine, if my predecessor came to this dinner this year, now that would have been a real coup if that occurred. A little tough, huh? But I'm honored to be here at such an event with so much history.
It was already referenced, that the very first president to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner was Calvin Coolidge in 1924. I had just been elected to the United States Senate. I remember telling him, Cal, just be yourself. Get up there and speak from the heart. You're going to be great, kid. You're going to do well. Of course, Jill is with me tonight. Jilly, how are you, kid?
I think she is doing an incredible job as First Lady. The first lady to continue working full-time and she does as a professor. She doesn't pay attention to the polls. Though, she did say the other day instead of introducing myself as Joe Biden's husband, made me introduce myself as her roommate. I've attended this dinner many times but this is my first time as President.
The organizers had -- had it hard -- made it pretty hard for me tonight. Although the good news is if all goes well, I have a real shot of replacing James Corden. It was great having him over to the White House the other day just as he announced he is leaving the show. Great performers going out on top after eight years in the job, sounds just about right to me.
And it's tough to follow pros like James and Billy Eichner. Billy, where are you again? Where is he? Well, Billy, you're famous for interviewing -- your interviewing skills. Billy, you should know, what you're doing, pal, you do it -- you know it well. And you should -- I think, you should host "Meet the Press," maybe they'll start to watch it again. I've never had -- never had -- I've never had open -- I'll never be -- I'll never be invited to "Meet the Press" again anyway. Never have to open before Trevor Noah. Trevor is great.
When I was elected, he did a show and he called me, America's new dad. Let me tell you something, pal, I'm flattered anybody would call me a new anything. You're my guy. And, folks, it's been a tough few years for the country. That's one reason why it's great to be here again. Everyone at the White House is so excited. I told my grandkids and Pete Buttigieg if they could stay up late and watch the show tonight.
Tonight, we come here to answer a very important question on everybody's mind, why in hell are we still doing this? I know there are -- I know there are 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 were fully vaccinated and boosted. So, if you're at home watching this and you're wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They're all here vaccinated and boosted, all of them.
And, look, Fox -- Fox News, I'm really sorry your preferred candidate lost the last election. To make it up to you, I'm happy to give my Chief of Staff to you all so he can tell Sean Hannity what to say every day. In fact, Ron Klain is here at the CBS table with our Mick Mulvaney. Mick, on CBS, I was stunned. I figured he'd end up on "Masked Singer" with Rudy. Amazing hired guys. Really quite amazing.
Look, I know this is a tough town. I came to office with an ambitious agenda and I expected it to face stiff opposition in the Senate. I just hoped it would be from Republicans. But I'm not worried about the midterms. I'm not worried about them. We may end up with more partisan gridlock. But I'm confident we can work it out during my remaining six years in the presidency.
And, folks, I'm not really here to roast the GOP. That's not my style. Besides, there is nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn't already put on tape. You know, at the -- at the same time, a lot of people say the Republican Party is too extreme, too divisive, too controlled by one person. They say that's not your father's Republican Party.
Ronald Reagan said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear this wall down. Today's Republicans say, tear down Mickey Mouse's house. And pretty soon they'll be storming Cinderella's castle and you can be sure of it. Our Republicans seem to support one fellow. Some guy named Brandon. He's having a really good year. And I'm kind of happy for him.
Let me conclude with a serious word. We live in serious times. We're coming through a devastating pandemic. And we have to stay vigilant. I know Kamala wanted to be here for example. Thankfully she's doing well. You should all know, she sends her best. We're in a time when what we so long have taken for granted is facing the gravest of threats. And I'm being deadly earnest. Overseas, the liberal world order that laid the foundation for global peace, stability, and prosperity since World War II is genuinely, seriously under assault. And at home, a poison is running through our democracy.
Of all -- all of this taking place with disinformation massively on the rise, where the truth is buried by lies and the lies live on as truth. What's clear -- and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that you, the free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century. I really mean it. I've always believed that good journalism holds up a mirror to ourselves to reflect on the good, the bad, and the true.
Tonight, I want to congratulate the awardees and the scholarship winners who carry on that sacred tradition. 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.
And although it's not Ukrainian and Russian mom, I'd like to meet you and dad to talk about your son. We just saw a heartbreaking video. Nine have been killed reported from Kyiv. Struck my kamikaze drone strike after a shopping mall attack. Shot in the neck while documenting Ukrainian fleeing. Killed when Russian missiles hit the television tower in a residential neighborhood. One journalist from Radio Liberty just killed days ago. So many of you
telling the stories and taking the photos and recording the videos of what's happening there. The unvarnished truth shown. Showing the destruction and the devastation. And, yes, the war crimes.
Tonight, we also honor the legacy of two historic reporters, and that is Alice Dunnigan and Ethel Payne. I'm glad you saw that tonight. I didn't know you were doing that. These are the first black women to be White House reporters who shattered convention to cover segregated a nation. We honor journalists killed, missing, imprisoned, detained, and tortured, covering war, exposing corruption, and holding leaders accountable. We honor members of the press, both national and local covering a once in a century pandemic when we lost a million Americans. A generation reckoning on race.
The next essential threat, climate change. The free press is not the enemy of the people, far from it. At your best, you're guardians of the truth. President Kennedy once said, "Without debate, without criticism, no administration, no country can succeed, and no republic can survive." The First Amendment grants a free press extraordinary protection.
But with it comes, as many of you know, a very heavy obligation. To seek the truth as best you can. Not to inflame or entertain, but to illuminate and educate. I know it's tough, and I'm not being solicitous, the industry is changing significantly. There is incredible pressure on you all to deliver heat instead to shed light because the technology is changing so much. The system is changing. But it matters. No kidding, it matters. The truth matters.
American democracy is not a reality show. It's not a reality show. It's reality itself. And reality is that we are a great country. Our future is bright. It's not guaranteed because democracy is never guaranteed. And it has to be earned. It has to be defended. It has to be protected. You've heard me say many times, there is not a damn thing this country can't do when we stand united and do it together. And I know we can do anything we want to do that's right.
I've been around a long time and has been pointed out many times tonight. But I give you my word as a Biden, I've never been more optimistic about America than I am today. I really mean it. At times of enormous change, it presents enormous opportunities. Where despite all the crisis, all the partisanship, all the shouting and showmanship, I really know this and you know it too, we are a great nation because we're basically good people. And here in America, good journalism, good satire about our leaders, about our society is quintessentially an American thing. It demonstrates the power of our example.
And I, honest to God, believe it reveals our soul, the soul of our nation. And that's what I'd like to toast tonight. If I may. To the journalists and their families, to the people and their elected representatives, to the United States of America. And by the way, Madeleine Albright was right. We are the indispensable nation. Ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to turn this over to Trevor now. Strap myself into my seat. And, Trevor, the really good news is, now you get to roast the President of the United States. And unlike in Moscow, you won't go to jail. The podium is yours.
TREVOR NOAH, THE DAILY SHOW HOST: Wow, that was pretty fantastic. One more time for President Biden, please.
That was really great. I got a promise I will not be going to jail. I will -- I'll switch things up now. Let's see how we do this. How is everybody doing tonight? You guys good? Everyone good?
First of all, thank you so much, Steve. Good evening, Mr. President, First Lady, members of the media, and all the men relieved that Ronan Farrow isn't here tonight. It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation's most distinguished super-spreader event. No, for real, people what are we doing here? Let's be honest? What are we doing? Like, did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron Dinner? Nothing. Like, do you read any of your own newspapers? I mean, I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you, what are doing you here?
You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large indoor gatherings. Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan. I mean, Dr. Fauci dropped out. That should have been a pretty big sign. Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it's OK. And we all live with Pete. OK. All right then.
And now for those who don't me, my name is Trevor Noah. And I'm really honored to be here, honestly. You know, because, you could have picked any comedian. You could have invited anyone but you went with the South African variant. Very on theme. I appreciate that. And COVID risk aside, can I just say how happy I am that this event is happening again for the first time in three years. Yes.
And the truth is, I want us all to have a good time tonight. So, please, everyone relax. You know, I know everyone in this room is worried about who catches you laughing at what and -- but chill. Just chill. We're celebrating. We're out. You know, get comfortable. Not too comfortable like Jeffrey Toobin. Not too comfortable.
No, you know what -- no, don't ooh him, bunch of haters. You know what, so what Jeffery. You made a mistake. You whipped it on in front of your co-workers. That's the first step to winning a Grammy for comedy album of the year. You're halfway there, my friend. You don't let the haters stop you. We all come back from mistakes.
Now, you might have noticed I'm going to be telling some jokes tonight. But I want you to understand, I'm not here to tear anybody down. OK. Yes, I might roast you gently, you know, like a pair of testicles on a Tucker Carlson special. But I'm not doing this just for the attention, all right. I'm a comedian. Not Kyrsten Sinema. All right. And by the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Whoever thought we'd see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual but closeted Republican, huh. That's progress. That's progress.
And yes, I know a lot of you are worried. And yes, it is risky making jokes these days. You know, I mean, we all saw what happened at the Oscars. I've actually been a little bit worried about tonight. I won't lie. You know, I was like, what if I make, like, a really mean joke? You know, about, like, Kellyanne Conway, and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me.
I just hope we all stay calm. Because it is exciting to be here even though some people don't think this dinner should even exist, as you said, Mr. President, you know, because some people think this shows that the media is too cozy with politicians. But what those people don't understand is that you guys have integrity.
You would never allow personal connections to affect your ability to be good journalists. Isn't that right, Chris Cuomo? Where is Chris, by the way? Is he here? Couldn't make it?
Oh, by the way, before we really get going, a few quick announcements. Anyone here who is a Democrat in a swing district, I've been asked to remind you not to hand your resume to the cable news execs at your table until after the event, please. Thank you very much. Also, a quick note before people order their Ubers home tonight, Governor Greg Abbott is generously providing free buses for the Telemundo table. Very classy. Very classy.
But man, what a room this is, huh? Look at this room. Everyone is here tonight. We've got politicians. The media, celebrities. Basically, anyone who's been to Jeffrey Epstein's Island, this is an exclusive event. In fact, coming in -- coming in, I heard Meghan McCain telling the bouncer, do you know who my father was. And they were like, you have a ticket, you can just come in. But she insisted on telling them who her father was anyway.
And I'll tell you somebody coming from Africa. I mean, I've just got to say, this is so exciting, you know. To get this swanky party full of Washington's most powerful people, you know. It's not as exciting as Madison Cawthorn made it sound but still very sexy. Very, very sexy.
There are many big names here tonight. Yes, one of my favorites, Ron Desantis is here. Oh, men. I'm actually surprised that he found the time. You know, he's been so busy trying to outmaneuver Trump for 2024. I see you, Ron. I see you, player. Yes, I've seen what you've been doing. Blaming Trump for the lockdowns, distancing yourself from the vaccines that Trump created with his own two hands. Nobody knew how to make vaccines until I made them, beautiful, beautiful vaccines. Nobody knew how. Not even Fauci.
But, Ron -- Ron is playing it coy, man. He won't even tell people if he got the booster, yes. As they say in Florida, don't ask, don't tell, am I right? I see you, Ron. You see, what I like about Ron Desantis is like, if Trump was the original "Terminator", DeSantis is like T-1000. You know, you're smarter than him, you're slicker than him. You can
walk down ramps, yes. Because you see -- you know, Trump said he won the election. But everyone was just able to look at the numbers and see that he was wrong. That's why Ron Desantis is one step ahead. First, you ban the math textbooks, then nobody knows how to count the votes. Boom, my man. What a room. Are you kidding me?
The great Chef Jose Andres is joining us here tonight. Give it up for him, people. My good friend. In the room. Whenever there's a disaster anywhere in the world, Chef Jose is there. Which I guess is why he is sitting at the CNN table tonight.
Now, of course, the real reason that it's such an honor to be here tonight is that we all get to be in the same room as the most powerful man in the United States. So, let's give it up for Joe Manchin, everybody. Where is he? Is he there? Good to see you, sir. Good to see you.
No, for real -- for real. Mr. President, thank you for being here. Thank you for having me here. You know, I was a little confused about why me. But then I was told you get your highest approval rating when a biracial African guy is standing next to you. So, I wanted to just say, Joe, I'm glad that I could do my part and hopefully, this will work. I'm not actually him, I just did the voice. More importantly, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is here, everybody. Give it up for her.
You know, interesting fact. Even as First Lady, Dr. Biden continued her teaching career. Yes, the first time a presidential spouse has ever done so, ever. Congratulations. Now, you might think it's because she loves teaching so much. But it's actually because she's still paying off her student debt. I'm sorry about that, Jill. Yes, I guess you should have voted for Bernie.
You know, sir, can I just say, I think everyone will agree that it's actually nice to once again have a president who's not afraid to come to the White House Correspondents' Dinner and hear jokes about himself. I'll be honest. I'll be honest. I'll be honest. If you didn't come, I totally would have understood, yes, yes. Because these people have been so hard on you, which I don't get. I really don't. You know, I think ever since you've come into office, things are really looking up, you know, gas is up, rent is up, food is up. Everything.
No, it really has been a tough first year for you, Mr. President. And surely you must be a little worried about 2024. You know, there's a lot of passion on the Republican side. There really is, you know, it's going to be an interesting time. And, as you all know, President Biden's lack of a filter does get him into hot water sometimes. You know, last month he caused a huge international incident saying that Vladimir Putin should be removed from power. It was very, very upsetting to Russia. Yes, until someone explained to them that none of the stuff Biden wants actually gets done.
But despite some hiccups, President Biden has led the country through some really dark times since he took office. The COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the launch of CNN+. And don't forget, don't forget, don't forget, he's also had some major legislative successes, you know, in his first year in office, I might add. You know, he got a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed that would do everything from fixing America's roads and bridges to modernizing school buses, which Matt Gaetz's girlfriend is very excited about. Don't boo, love.
Not to mention, no president in my memory has given more marginalized groups opportunities. And I'm talking about women, the LGBTQ community, the Taliban, the list goes on and on. And I know, Mr. President, that the left is super upset at you, you know. But I think that they should be happy to know that you just recently announced that you're proposing a new 20 percent minimum tax on the super- wealthy.
And I will say, President Biden, that you are a big man here. A really big man. You could have targeted Donald Trump but instead, you chose to only raise taxes on billionaires. That was big of you. Really nice. Prove me wrong, show me the taxes.
So, personally, I think that President Biden could do a better job of taking credit for the things that are going right. You know, I mean, unemployment is currently at 3.6 percent. Think about that, 3.6 percent. Two percent if you don't count the Cuomo family. And I will say, President Biden came into office and he's done well and he's done badly.
And in this room, I know there's a lot of mixed reviews. You know, there was a lot of talk about how the president really respects the press but what has he really done for you guys, huh? Think of all the journalists whose careers have been hurt by the Biden Presidency. People like Daniel Dale, he used to be CNN's star fact-checker on TV every day. But now, there's barely anything to check. Say for Glenn Kessler of "The Washington Post", on the way here I saw him on the street offering four Pinocchios for a dollar.
Mr. President that's on you. And what about Maggie Haberman, for four years it was exclusives on the Russia investigation, corruption, the president doesn't read his daily briefings, on and on. Now, look at her, she spends all day fighting with random people on Twitter like a common political reporter. You've ruined her, Mr. President.
Now, of course -- of course, President Biden doesn't often have to deal with the media directly. Yes, the task falls to Press Secretary Jen Psaki, yes. Glad you could make it tonight. Really glad you could make it tonight, Jen. It's nice that you're willing to come over here and risk guesting COVID for like, what, the 10th time now? Let me ask, how do you keep getting COVID, Jen? Like, your boss hooked us all up with free testing. Does he not have your address? What's going on there?
The word on the street actually is that Jen Psaki is going to MSNBC next month. Yes, yes, yes. Apparently just being on C-span, the ratings were too high and she wanted more of a challenge, you know. She wanted to switch things up. She can't laugh at that. Don't put the camera on her. If it's true, congratulations to Jen and your big career change. But, you know, moving to MSNBC is going to be a big switch up for you
because right now your current job is to make the Biden Administration look good as possible, you know, at all costs. Now, you're going to be at MSNBC and you're going to have to -- you'll be fine, actually. Sorry. I don't even know why I apologized.
By the way, MSNBC, can I just say you guys are doing great work, you know. Yes, I love watching your shows. You know, when Trump was in office, your shows were all about how bad he was. And now that Biden is in office, your shows are all about how bad Trump was. Consistency is important. We appreciate that. We really do.
Also, shout out to Joe and Mika. Yes, I love you guys. The most adorable HR violation in town. I love it. So adorable. What? And that's why we're really here people. We're here to honor the media, yes. So first and foremost, let's give it up for the White House press pool. Let's give it up for them, please.
You guys are relentless. Every day you show up and every day you demand answers on the pressing issues of the day. And then Fox News asks about Hunter Biden. And I'll be honest, though, I actually think that's a good thing. I really do. I think people need to be held accountable if they're using their dad's name to get ahead in life. And I can't think of anyone better to ask about that than Peter Doocy. Yes, wherever he is, Chris Wallace laughed at that joke.
But you see, the real purpose of tonight is to honor some of the country's best political journalists. People like Abby Phillip, Yamiche Alcindor, right. And Mick Mulvaney. I actually get why CBS hired Mick Mulvaney, I get it, you know. He's more than just the guy who assured everyone that Donald Trump would concede gracefully.
No, he can also get you access to other people who assured you that Donald Trump would concede very gracefully. It's very important. So, shout out to CBS, my corporate cousin. You can find actually find us on Paramount Plus, yes, right between "Spongebob Square Pants" and a bunch of movies that even Delta's inflight entertainment system turned down.
But I don't want to dwell on that. I don't want to dwell on Mick Mulvaney when we have so many other great journalists here tonight. We got Anderson Cooper in the house, man. We got Rachel Maddow. We got Don Lemon. We got Shepard Smith -- Smith and so many other huge talents who can no longer be mentioned in Florida public schools. I see you, Ron Desantis. What's going on, baby.
Oh, man. A lot of big media names in the room. Chuck Todd is here. Chuck, are you here? Yes. How you doing? I'll ask a follow-up but I know you don't know what those are. Don't boo him. He's trying. Man, these people are mean, Chuck.
The Axios team is also in the house. I didn't know this, but Axios is actually Greek for political playbook without the birthdays. Yes. And, you know, Axios got a lot of flak a few years ago for releasing a staff photo that had fewer black people in it than CPAC. But kudos to Axios, they fixed that problem by not releasing any more staff photos.
And Jonathan Swan, my man. I'm a fan. Personal fan. You've been crushing it with those interviews. Congrats on the award. People are always asking, how does Jonathan Swan get the politicians to open up to him? I'll tell you how, it's the Australian accident. Yes. American journalists sound too aggressive, what did you do with the money?
An interview with Jonathan Swan is like being interrogated by a koala bear. But Senator McConnell, don't you think it's strange that you and the devil have never been seen in the same place at the same time? Don't you think that's strange? Well, I guess when you go to hell, you'll find out for yourself.
And Pierre is here tonight, one of my favorites. Congratulations on all the work you do. I love tiny desk concerts. I just wish you, guys, didn't always have to beg for money. You know, maybe you're spending too much on those tote bags. Who designs those, House of Gucci? Why don't you just ask Ivanka which kids make her stuff, come on.
And how about the How about "The New York Times" also here. Man, can I just say, "New York Times," I did not realize how much you guys like to party. Yes, I've seen some of you sneaking off to the bathroom to do things you are not supposed tonight, like, post on Twitter. Yes, I've seen that. I love "The New York Times". I really do.
You guys are the best. You do some of the most accurate precise reporting in news. You never fail to write down exactly whatever the police have given you to say. Really powerful. Like, is it just me or does "The New York Times" keep blaming bail reform on crimes that had nothing to do with bail reform? Like, I'm half expecting to open a newspaper and see a headline, Mets blow four-run lead due to changes in State bail laws.
And you know, it's actually crazy how you guys have been attacked for everything. From your investigations into Trump's taxes, your reporting on the pandemic, and yet the biggest death threats that you received is because there were two Ls in the Wordle that day. That was wild. By the way, give it up to those " New York Times" reporters who managed to get those Kevin McCarthy tapes. That was amazing, yes. Give it up for them. Incredible. You knew how crucial those tapes were which is why you immediately waited until your book was for sale to tell the people about them. Bravo. Bravo.
And you know what I liked about those tapes is that the one piece of good news. Is that now we know whether Nancy Pelosi or Kevin McCarthy are speaker of the House. That position will still be held by someone who believes that Trump should have resigned and was responsible for what happened on January 6th. Yes, that's bipartisanship. I like that.
I'm really excited because the kings of cable are here. Fox News in the house, yes, the top-rated news network for the past, what, 300 years. Killing it. And I know Fox has a bad reputation. I mean, I feel you tense up now when you talk about them. They really do crush it. You know, I think they get a bad rap because it's a mixed bag, you know. They actually have really good journalists. It just depends on when you watch. [22:40:00]
All right. Fox News is sort of like a waffle house. Yes, it's relatively normal in the afternoon but as soon as the sun goes down, there's a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in. You can't throw me out. I know the real president.
How about that Fox Primetime lineup, Tucker Carlson, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham? Their coverage of COVID was really impactful. Their segments about vaccines moved their viewers into the ICU. And congrats, congrats to Sean Hannity on becoming the longest-running host in cable news history, by the way. Give it up for him. For real, give it up for him. Longest-running host, don't hate. Don't hate the player. Yes, fun fact.
Sean Hannity and Ainsley Earhardt are actually dating now, yes. Yes, and I actually think it's beautiful to see an office romance at Fox that won't end in a $20 million settlement. I'm sure wherever Roger Ailes is right now, he's looking up and smiling.
Oh, Laura Ingraham. Wow. What can you say about her that hasn't already been said by the antidefamation league? Powerful. I just said that Tucker Carlson isn't here today, he is my favorite. What a talent. Tucker Carlson, are you kidding me? That man is a beast. Who else could fill an entire show each night asking questions that Google could easily answer? Do vaccines work? Who really won the election? Who's the president right now? Is this America? Gripping stuff.
But you know if we ask people there's so much happening in the world right now. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and you just want to tune it all out. And that's why I love watching CNN. Where is Jeff Zucker, by the way, also couldn't make it? What's happening over there? Apparently, Jeff got fired after he tried to keep his workplace relationship a secret which is weird because if you really didn't want anyone to know about it, he could've just made a show about it on CNN+. I know, I know. It's so sad. CNN+ gone but forgotten.
You know who I blame? You know who I blame, CNN? I blame John King, that's who. Yes, John, your magic wall can predict how every person in the country is going to vote in every country. But it couldn't give you a heads up that nobody wanted more CNN. I mean, they spent $300 million on CNN+. $300 million. Can I be honest, CNN?
I think Stanley Tucci was playing you guys, yes. You know, I think that dude knew exactly where Italy was. And he was just going to keep searching as long as you were paying. $300 million. Do you understand how much money that is? I mean, I do get it, streaming, they say, is the future. You know, as the old saying goes, you got to spend money to make sure that Chris Cuomo doesn't get in a wrongful termination lawsuit.
And that's not the only big change going on at CNN. They just brought on Chris Licht. Yes, my man over there, Chris, as the new head of news. His first order of business, hire a guy who knows how to turn off the breaking news banner, yes. What happened with that? Did they just put it on during the O.J. chase and they never figured out how to get rid of it?
The news is not always breaking. But this is an interesting time for the media world, you know, as with many industries, the pandemic was a major disruption for journalists. But I also think it helped humanize you, honestly. You know, millions of Americans watched TV anchors reporting from inside their own homes. Meanwhile, reporters in print media, were like, we get it, you have homes. Way to show off.
And we have to face the facts, the media is in a tough position. You did say that, Mr. President. Informing the American public is harder than ever before. You're battling conspiracy theories. That the election was stolen by George Soros. That JFK Jr. is still alive. That everyone in this room is a secret pedophile. And that's just what Clarence Thomas' wife believes. It's insane, people. This is truly the golden era of conspiracy theories. Whether it's the right-wing believing Trump can still win the 2020 election or the left believing Joe Biden can still win the 2024 election. Thank you, Mr. President.
And so, as we sit in this room tonight, people, I really hope you all remember what the real purpose of this evening is. Yes, it's fun. Yes, we dress nice. Yes, the people eat, they drink, we have fun but the reason we are here is to honor and celebrate the fourth States and what you stand for. What you stand for. An additional check and balance that holds power to accounts and gives voice to those who otherwise wouldn't have one.
And like -- I'm not just talking about, like, CNN or Fox or any of the other major organizations. I'm talking about everyone, you know. The young journalists we saw today, you know. Intrepid journalists who aren't in the room in Flint, Michigan or that daring reporter at the Des Moines register, or the unflinching local newscaster in El Paso, Texas.
Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy. And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities. If you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what's happening in Ukraine. Look at what's happening there. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what's really happening.
You realize how amazing it is. Like in America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or readers uncomfortable. Do you understand how amazing that is?
I stood here tonight and I made fun of the President of the United States, and I'm going to be fine. I'm going to be fine, right? Like, do you really understand what a blessing it is? Maybe it's happened for so long that you -- it might slip your mind, it's a blessing. In fact, here -- ask yourself this question. Honestly ask yourself this question.
If Russian journalists, who are losing their livelihoods, as you were talking about, Steve, and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing. If they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions. If they had, basically, what you have, would they be using it in the same way that you do? Ask yourself that question every day. Because you have one of the most important roles in the world.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you. Please be careful leaving tonight. We all know this administration doesn't handle evacuations well. Good night, everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All right. A dinner that hasn't happened all for three years. A dinner that hasn't happened like this in like six years with the president there. A dinner like this that could only happen, really, in the United States of America as Trevor Noah was just saying there.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yes, I mean this is the crux of this dinner is how the media and there is a tension between the media, of course, and the administration, the government. And yet, there's an understanding of the importance of the media. And I thought it was pretty funny.
BERMAN: Astead, what did you see?
ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: I think we saw some good jokes. I think Trevor Noah went to the level that we thought he would. Everyone and -- if I could use my joke, everyone could get it, right? Like, he roasted Democrats. He roasted Republicans. He roasted all the members of the media and all the organizations we know and love. I think that's what this is about. This is about kind of pushing those limits. But I think we saw a president who was trying to take it in stride. He was yacking it up, even then when it was at the expense of him.
I think it's a return to normal for this dinner. But the truth of those jokes still rings, you know. The trouble the Democrats are in. The difficulty of this pandemic. We -- they're funny but there's an element there where they know the realness of what's happening here, too.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: I think Biden did something that's interesting that most presidents in the past haven't done. Usually, they do, like, 10 good minutes of comedy. And they do one or two minutes of thank you for the press for the role that you play in the country, et cetera, et cetera. Biden did five minutes of comedy lines and he was kind of rushing through. And then he did five, eight, 10 minutes of not a standard stump speech, but talking about Ukraine, talking about the reporters who have died there which I actually think was the right tone.
Again, it's really hard to -- it's hard to -- to -- if you're not a comedian to do comedy. Number one, it's hard to do it in front of 3,000 people. And it's really hard to do it when there's a war going on, where lives are being lost maybe as you speak. So, he did something a little bit different. That's probably just worth noting that it wasn't all comedy. And it wasn't even, I don't think, a majority comedy. NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and I think he sort of realizes that this isn't his strength, right. If you compare him to Barack Obama, compare him to really any other president that we've seen recently, it's just not what he's good at. There's a certain crispness I think you have to have when you're delivering these jokes and certain timing that he just doesn't have. So, I think it was probably wise for him to go in a different direction.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: A shred of normalcy. That's what I felt. Astead was sort of hinting at it there. You know, the last two and a half year -- two -- two and half years have been very, very tough in this country. With the COVID pandemic and then, obviously, we now have the war in Ukraine. And, you know, even dating back to 2017, right, when Trump came into office, there really hasn't been sort of that sense of normalcy.
The jokes that were told tonight. Yes, even though President Biden didn't tell as many jokes as perhaps past presidents. He did tell a few. And more than that, he showed up. He showed up. He was willing to give but he was also willing to take. And I think that's something that, personally, I enjoyed very much.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & POLLSTER: Well, and there's also the element of, I think, the last couple of these dinners during the Trump Administration but before COVID put everything on ice, the comedians, I think, would come on thinking they've really got to just stick it to the Trump Administration.
And there were often questions where there are big questions about, did they cross the line? Did they go too far? Was it too mean- spirited? Here, Trevor Noah made sure everyone was a target. I'm sure there were some people who were named who will feel, maybe, it was a little mean-spirited. But I think it kept more in -- it felt more like a pre-Trump White House Correspondents.
BERMAN: I'll tell you, the one lasting memory I'll have from this is the constant kind of ways that President Biden laughing.
BERMAN: I mean, right, laughing at jokes himself.
BERMAN: Laughing at jokes about us. Laughing at jokes about everyone. Just laughing.
CILLIZZA: The best thing -- the --
HENDERSON: He was cracking up, really.
CILLIZZA: -- the best thing that you can do is be self-deprecating. When you use humor, he started off on his approval ratings, smart. And laugh when there's jokes about you and about other people. So, it looks like you're having fun. I still remember the 2011 -- Donald Trump wasn't president, but in 2011, I sat one table away from him while he was roasted from the stage and he sat like this. And it was so uncomfortable. Joe Biden, you know, he shows that he gets. Yes, I'm being made fun of, it's all in good humor. It's fine.
HENDERSON: Yes, he's --
ANDERSON: He seemed to thoroughly enjoy himself.
HERNDON: I think he did. And I also think it was a setting that was kind of built for that. Folks are rooting for him to kind of give us that shred of normalcy, I think as Harry was talking about. I think we should talk about how Trevor Noah ended that speech, also. You know, kind of charged to the media. I think that that shows, kind of, a different position.
Not only politicians are going to be the target of some of those jokes from Trevor Noah but also the media, as Biden said, has some of them are lower approval ratings sometimes than the president himself. And there as the real focus on pushing us to do that too and I think that's what, kind of, Trevor Noah was trying to end on in a way that walks will be remembered on.
KEILAR: I want to go now to Kate Bennett, a White House reporter who was there in the room. Kate, what did you think?
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, to be in the room was sort of interesting in and of itself because, of course, everyone was wondering about how everyone feels about COVID especially after the Gridiron Dinner here in Washington that became a super- spreader. So, there was a sense of tension. And I think it was addressed pretty well. I mean, you know, people were very serious about the situation in the country and the pandemic. We all covered it, of course.
So, to be in a room with 2,600 people, very close quarters while Trevor Noah made a joke about it, it still felt a little -- maybe, a little too soon, if you will. But, you know, the president joked. He said I'm in a room with people whose approval rating is lower than my own. He did a good job. He did not speak as long as most presidents do as we just noticed.
You know, people laughed. It was a really -- there was some robust applause for him. I think there was a sense of relief again that returned to normalcy. Certainly, people were walking about, schmoozing, doing the thing that most Washingtonian journalists do during this dinner, which is sort of table hop and poke around and look at celebrities.
When Kim Kardashian and Pete Davidson walked into the room, of course, with the Reality TV cameras following them, everyone turned around and wanted to take pictures of their own. That's very typical of the nerd prom if you will. So, you know, it felt very normal but still at the same time serious. There was a lot of focus on as we talked about the journalists in Ukraine. The people who have been lost. The lives that have been lost. The seriousness of what we're covering around the world. That wasn't lost on anyone, especially not the president. And so, it felt a little bit of appall in the room as we talked about, you know, just what journalism is facing globally today. And then to shift gears to Trevor Noah and the President was a little awkward. But the crowd got on board pretty quickly.
Again, seriously, though, it was just a packed ballroom. One of the biggest, if not the biggest in Washington. People wondered if people would show up. Would there be last-minute cancellations? Would they not want to come because of COVID? Certainly, that was not the case. Everyone had to show their vaccination. They had to show proof of test today, of a negative test. So, while everyone was in the room together, there was a little bit of ease. But at the same time, yes, this is a new thing for Washington.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: They're pushing me into your --
BENNETT: And you guys, the biggest star --
BERMAN: It's Don Lemon.
BENNETT: -- the biggest of the night.
KEILAR: Of course, Don.
BENNETT: Wait, hang on. Hang on.
KEILAR: Fix your bow tie, Don.
LEMON: Other way.
BENNETT: Don Lemon was there. So, they're --
KEILAR: Get it together -- other way.
LEMON: I'm doing what the President did.
BENNETT: The President made his crooked --
LEMON: Is it better now? I wanted to go up on stage and fix his bow tie, guys.
BENNETT: I know.
LEMON: And I didn't do it.
BENNETT: He -- hi -- he did that himself.
KEILAR: He fixed, Don's.
BENNETT: No, I think Don's is OK.
LEMON: Am I good? BENNETT: Yes, Don's look --
LEMON: Am I good?
BENNETT: It looks great, yes.
LEMON: Hey, guys, how are -- where are -- are you at the White House? Where are you?
BERMAN: No. No, we're in the bureau.
KEILAR: We're at the bureau.
BERMAN: We're working.
BERMAN: We're working tonight, Don. I know -- I know this is --
LEMON: What did you think?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Of work? Work's good, man. Oh, no. The dinner? You tell me. You were in the room. What did it feel like, Don, for you?
LEMON: It was frightening, actually. I'm not kidding.
LEMON: It was frightening. By the way, it's -- I ran through, I knocked some old ladies down to get here, to be with you, guys. It was a little scary because you didn't know what they were going to say. We knew that certain things would be easy targets, right?
BENNETT: Of course.
LEMON: We knew that they were probably going to hit us.
LEMON: And let's just say, it could have been worse. I think we got off easy. As far as -- as far as us, CNN. But I thought Trevor's overall message about the privilege. And John, as you know, had the honor to be able to share being in Ukraine with me, with you, and with me. But I will say -- Freudian slip, I will say though that he brought it home.
It's what we -- what we do is a privilege and it is an honor. And we should remember that every single day especially if you look at what's happening in Ukraine and what Russia is doing to the free press. There's no free press in Russia and many parts of the world.
BENNETT: I thought to, Don, the President looked visibly moved --
LEMON: He did. BENNETT: -- after that Memoriam to the journalists that were lost in Ukraine.
LEMON: He stood up.
BENNETT: He was the first one to stand.
LEMON: He stood up and made everyone stand up and gave a standing ovation.
BENNETT: Yes, and he was very -- he looked as though he was, you know, on the verge of tears or certainly felt it very emotionally as we all have as journalists. But he certainly was the first one to pop up and clap.
LEMON: And it was -- listen, I have to say, it was a great moment for diversity at this White House Correspondents' Dinner --
BENNETT: Oh, yes.
LEMON: -- this time. You know, honoring the two first black women who had been part of the press corp and the White House press. I thought it was fantastic. I was visibly moved. I was sitting in a table -- one table away -- two tables away, really, from them. And as I was looking around with my colleagues Abby Phillip and April Ryan and all of the great women of color who are reporting and have reported on the front line or in the briefing room at the White House. And it just made me feel very proud to look at how far we've come.
So, it was frightening being in the room about being a, you know, butt of a joke. But guess what, we can take it because that's what we do.
LEMON: We give criticism. And if we're going to give it out, we should be able -- if we dish it, we should be able to take it. So, I actually enjoyed it. This is one of the best times that I've actually had at a White House Correspondents' Dinner.
BERMAN: No, it looked like -- it honestly looked like people were having fun. At the end of the day, celebrating the First Amendment and smiling is really what it's all about.
LEMON: How did I do, John?
BERMAN: And I think to that extent --
LEMON: What do you like?
BERMAN: No, I -- I --
LEMON: Do you like it?
BERMAN: -- I think you look fantastic. I do --
KEILAR: Yes. BERMAN: You look --
LEMON: Brianna, you wore a tuxedo, too. I love it.
KEILAR: Thanks, Don.
BERMAN: Don Lemon, if anyone knows what a privilege it was to be in Ukraine with you more than you do, it is me. And it was a privilege. Love you, Don.
LEMON: Bye, guys.
BERMAN: Don, Kate Bennett, thank you so much for being with us tonight.
KEILAR: Thank you, guys. Thank you.
BERMAN: And thank you, everyone, for sharing this night with us. We're sort of back, right?
KEILAR: Yes, sort of.
But first Stanley Tucci is back. New episodes, new food, new discoveries. "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy", will he find it? Will he find it?
BERMAN: That's what Trevor Noah said.
KEILAR: New season premiering tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STANLEY TUCCI, STANLEY TUCCI: SEARCHING FOR ITALY (voiceover): There's no one on earth quite like Italy. Every mouth here is an eruption.
TUCCI (on camera): Oh, it's so good. Cheers.
TUCCI (voiceover): A city in the sea.
TUCCI (on camera): Let's go.
TUCCI (voiceover): If you want to know the best place to eat, ask a gondolier.
TUCCI (on camera): I'll try it.
TUCCI (voiceover): The note for any vegetarian watching, Umbrians eat a lot of meat.
TUCCI (on camera): I surrender to the pork.
Oh, look at that. Oh, gorgeous. That's a revelation.
TUCCI (voiceover): There are more Italians here than in Bologna or Pisa. And whatever you hear, the food here is incredible.
TUCCI (on camera): I don't even want to talk anymore. I just want to eat it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: A new season of "Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy" premieres tomorrow night at 9:00 on CNN.