Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you, Steve, for that introduction. And a special thank you to the 42% of you who have already clapped.
I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only American group with a lower approval rating than I have. It’s hard to say after what we just saw.
This is the first time a president has attended this dinner in six years. thats understood. We had a terrible epidemic followed by two years of covid.
Just imagine if my predecessor attended this dinner this year. Now, this would have been a true coup d’etat if it had happened. A little tricky, isn’t it?
But I am honored to be here at such an event with so much history.
As noted earlier, Calvin Coolidge was the first president to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in 1924. I had just been elected to the United States Senate. And I remember — I remember saying to him, “Kal, just be yourself. Get up and speak from the heart. You’ll be great, boy. You’ll do well.”
Of course, Jill is with me tonight. How are you boy? I think – I think she’s doing a great job as first lady. The first lady who continues to work full time, she works as a professor.
She doesn’t pay much attention to the polls, though, as she said that next day: Instead of introducing myself as Jill Biden’s husband, perhaps I should introduce myself as her roommate.
I have attended this dinner many times, but this is my first time as president. The organizers made it difficult for me tonight. The good news though is, if all goes well, I have a real chance to replace James Corden.
It was great to have him in the White House that day, just as he announced he was leaving the show. The brilliant performer comes out on top after eight years on the job. It just seems to me.
And it’s hard to follow pros like James and Billy Eichner. Billy, where are you again? Do – where is he?
Well, Billy, you are famous for giving interviews – your interviewing skills. Billy, you should know what you’re doing, my friend. You know it, you know it well. And you should – I think – host a “Meet the Press”. Maybe they’ll start watching it again.
I never had – I never had to – I never had to open – I never will – I will never be called upon to “meet the press” again. In any case.
I never had to open before Trevor Noah. Trevor is great. When I was elected, he made an offer and called me “America’s new dad.” Let me tell you something, my friend: I would be flattered if anyone would call me anything “new”. You are my leg.
Guys, it’s been a tough few years for the country. This is one of the reasons why being here again is great.
Everyone in the White House is very excited. I told my grandchildren and Pete Buttigieg that they could stay up and watch this show tonight.
Tonight – tonight we come here and answer a very important question on everyone’s mind: Why the 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. In addition, everyone had to fully demonstrate their vaccination and reinforcement.
So, if you’re at home watching this and wondering how to do it, just call your favorite Fox News reporter. They are all here, vaccinated and reinforced – all of them.
And look, Fox – Fox News, I – I’m really sorry that your favorite candidate lost the last election. And to make it right for you, I’m happy to give the boss of all of you guys so he can tell Sean Hannity what he’s going to say every day.
In fact, Ron Klein is here at the table of CBS, who hired Mick Mulvaney. Mick on CBS? I was shocked. I figured he’d end up in “The Masked Singer” with Rudy.
Amazing job guys. Really so amazing.
Listen, I know this is a tough city. I came to office with an ambitious agenda, and I expected it to meet stiff opposition in the Senate. I just hoped it was a Republican.
But I’m not worried about the midterms. I’m not worried about them. We may end up with more partisan stalemate, but I am confident we can resolve it in the remaining six years in the presidency.
And you guys, I’m not really here to roast the GOP. This is not my style. On top of that, there’s nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t actually put on tape.
You know, at the same time — at the same time, a lot of people are saying that the Republican Party is very radical, divisive, and one person controlled. They say, “It’s not your father’s Republican party.”
Ronald Reagan said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” Today’s Republicans say, “They destroyed Mickey Mouse’s house.” And soon, they will storm Cinderella’s castle, you can be sure of that.
But the Republicans seem to support one of the comrades – someone named Brandon. He’s having a really good year, and I’m so happy for him.
Let me conclude with a serious word.
We live in difficult times. We are facing a devastating pandemic, and we have to remain vigilant. I know Kamala wanted to be here, for example, and thank God she’s fine. You should all know that she sends out her best.
We are at a time when we are facing the most serious threats. I am serious and fatal.
Ashraf- [sic] Overseas, the liberal world order that has laid the foundations for global peace, stability and prosperity since World War II is already under serious attack.
And at home, poison is flowing through our democracy for everyone – all of this is happening as misinformation grows on a massive scale, where truth is buried with lies and lies live as truth.
What is clear – and I mean this from the bottom of my heart – is that you, the free press, matter more to you than you did in the past century. No, I really mean it.
I’ve always believed that good journalism holds a mirror to ourselves, to think about the good, the bad, and the truth. Tonight, I would like to congratulate the awardees and scholarship winners who continue this sacred tradition.
We have all seen the courage of the Ukrainian people because of the courage of the American reporters in this room and your colleagues around the world, who are on the ground, taking their lives into their own hands.
And although it is not in Ukraine, it is Russia – Mom, I would like to meet you and Dad to talk about your son.
We just saw a heartbreaking video: Nine people were killed while reporting from Kyiv – they were hit by a kamikaze drone strike after an attack on a shopping center; Shot in the neck during alarm [sic] – during – while documenting the escape of Ukrainians; He was killed when Russian missiles hit the TV tower in a residential neighborhood. A journalist from Radio Liberty was killed a few days ago.
Many of you are telling stories, taking pictures and recording videos of what is happening there, the disembodied truth that emerges – emerges – devastation, devastation, and yes, war crimes.
Tonight, we also honor the legacy of two historical journalists, Alice Dunegan and Ethel Payne. I’m so glad you saw that tonight. I didn’t know you were doing that. These are the first black White House correspondents to break the pact covering an isolated country.
We honor dead, missing, imprisoned, detained and tortured journalists; Covering the war, exposing corruption, and holding leaders accountable.
We honor members of the press, national and local, who cover a once-in-a-century epidemic in which we have lost a million Americans, a generation to reckon with race and the existential threat of climate change.
A free press is not the enemy of the people – it is far from it. At your best, you are the guardians of the truth.
President Kennedy once said, and I quote, “Without debate, without criticism, there is no administration, no nation can prosper, and no republic can survive.”
The First Amendment affords exceptional protection to a free press, but with that, as many of you know, comes a very heavy obligation: to seek the truth as best you can—not to fuel or entertain, but to illuminate and educate.
I know it’s difficult. And I wouldn’t be anxious. The industry is changing significantly.
There is an incredible pressure on all of you to conduct heat rather than shine, because technology changes so often and the system is changing. But this is important. Not kidding. Did not matter. The truth is important.
American democracy is not a reality show. It is not a realistic show. It is the truth itself. The truth is that we are a great country.
Our future is bright. It is not guaranteed, because democracy is never guaranteed. You must gain. It must be defended. It must be protected.
As you have heard me say many times: There is nothing damned that this country cannot do when we stand united and do it together. And I know we can do just about anything we want to do right.
I’ve been around for a long time, as has been pointed out several times tonight. But I give you my word as Biden: I have never been more optimistic about America than I am today. I really mean it.
In times of massive change, it offers tremendous opportunities. Because despite all the crises, all the partisanship, all the shouting and the spirit of appearance,
I really know this and you know it too: We are a great nation because we are basically good people.
And here in America, good journalism and good satire about our leaders and our society is quintessentially American. It demonstrates the power of our example.
And I, honestly to God, believe it reveals our soul – the soul of our nation. And that’s what I’d like to roast tonight, if I may.
(The president offers a toast.)
To journalists and their families, and to the people and their elected representatives of the United States of America.
Incidentally, 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 can roast the President of the United States, and, unlike Moscow, you won’t go to jail.
platform for you.