What Was so Funny About the White House Correspondents Dinner anyway?
The mission of the annual White House Correspondents Dinner (WHCD) is to "ensure a strong free press and robust coverage of the presidency by advocating for access to the president, White House events and administration officials."
One must therefore assume that CNN, FOX, MSNBC, USA Today, The Washington Post, The New York Times, and other attending media orgs buy $3,000 tables and populate them with screen stars, because a strong free press is one that entertains first and informs somewhere down the line. After all, haughty affairs for laughing off rampant poverty, homelessness, skyrocketing healthcare, plunging national security, withering public education systems, imploding environmental conditions, gender and racial inequities, and an unhinged plutocrat with nuke codes who is beholden to a murderous dictator appears to remain an apt recipe for such ills.
There is the matter of whether or not a Trump presidency comes courtesy of The Washington Post. In 2011, WaPost invited Trump to their dinner table at a time when the U.S. was neck-deep in his birther war against the black man who occupied the White House. Somehow, WaPost execs sat about the water cooler and decided, of all our most worthy souls, a reality TV star, sexist, racist, career charlatan made for perfect company.
Obama's comedy brilliance had already been weighed and measured at prior star-studded events. He was clearly possessed of a wickedly timed wit that far outshined career funny folks. However, little did anyone know how utterly masterful he would be this particular night. Having weathered years of Trump's revulsion over his smarts and dark skin, Obama was ready to take dead aim at the clearly marked 65-year-old target sporting the world's most infamous platinum blonde combover and skin tone that landed somewhere between carrot and marmalade.
Donald Trump is here tonight. Now I know that he’s taken some flak lately. But 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? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example … no seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice, at the steakhouse, the men’s cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks. And there was a lot of blame to go around, but you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership, and so ultimately you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled. Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House.
Turns out, Obama's prescience was rather disturbing. And though Trump denied that Obama's skewering finally fueled his full-throttled run for the Oval, nobody on planet Earth believed him.
Trump courageously returned to the 2015 dinner where Obama landed one more uppercut. "And Donald Trump is still here. Still.”
At his final 2016 Correspondents Dinner, Obama whiplashed mainstream media with, “I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy [Trump] wanted to give his hotel business a boost, and now we’re praying that Cleveland makes it through July.”
On November 6, 2016, it was Donald Trump who yielded the last laugh.
Five months later, Trump didn't appear at the Correspondents Dinner, the first time a standing president failed to show up. Trump dumped his dinner invite in favor of a Pennsylvania rally at which he lambasted fake news while celebrating his preeminence. Indian-American comedian Hasan Minhaj was gifted with emcee duties for the 2017 gig. His response to the honor: “No one wanted to do this, so of course it landed in the hands of an immigrant."
Trump's regime has since obsessively dumped all over every morsel of Obama's presidential breadcrumb trail.
The Correspondents Dinner was constructed to raise money for college scholarships. 60% of its revenue went to scholarships in 2009, 26% in 2013, and 21.5% in 2014. With Trump in the driver's seat, the world upended by American political pratfalls, and fundraising foundering, perhaps media might reassess to whom it extends invitations in years to come. Some wonder whether, it might just be time to let the titanic storm the iceberg, thus sink into the fathoms.