By the time you read this, I will probably be back in East Moline, Illinois, home base.
I’m writing from St. Louis, Missouri at my brother-in-law’s house. When we arrived, we went out to see the site where niece Megan and her husband (Aaron) and daughter (Winnie) will be building their new house. [They plan to move from Denver to St. Louis]. ETA: spring of 2023.
We also visited the grave of my dear sister-in-law Wendy, who died April 18, 2020, during the Covid-19 pandemic from an accumulation of illnesses, including lymphoma. It would be so much better for us and for the world if Wendy were here, in person, to go out to dinner with us. Sixty-two is far too young to shuffle off this mortal coil.
Austin Tice (#freeaustintice) has been held prisoner in Syria for years and is being saluted at the White House Correspondents’ dinner. The president of the journalists’ association is mentioning other prisoners held and, also, Maksim Levin, Vira Hyryo, Bren Renaud, Oksana Baulin, Sasha Kuvshyova Zakrezews, —all journalists killed in Ukraine. Benjamin Hall of ABC News is recovering from injuries. (I’m sure I missed a few). “How It Happened” won an award for Axis, a film documenting the end of days of the Trump administration.
Biden Remarks: “Excited to be here among the only group with a lower approval rating than I have.” “We had a horrible plague, followed by 2 years of Covid.” “It would really have been a real coup if my predecessor had attended this dinner.” “Calvin Coolidge attended the first correspondents’ dinner in 1924. I remember telling him, ‘Just get up there and be yourself.'” “The good news is that I have a real shot at replacing James Corden. Great performers going out after 8 years at the top. Sounds about right to me.” “I’ve never had to open before Trevor Noah before. He called me ‘America’s new dad.’ I’m excited to be called a new anything.” Reference to all of Fox News members all being there, vaccinated and boosted. (Tough opposition from Democrats is referenced, as he talked about how he expected confrontation, but from REPUBLICANS.) “There’s nothing that I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already said on tape.”
Remarks from Trevor Noah:
“That was really great. I got a promise that I will not be going to prison.” (a reference to Biden’s introduction, where he told him that he could make fun of the President of the United States and not go to prison.)
“One of the nation’s most distinguished Super Spreader events. The second someone offered you a free dinner you all turned into Joe Rogan. Dr. Fauci dropped out, but Pete Davidson thought it was okay. You could have picked any comedian but you picked an African variant. Get comfortable, but don’t get too comfortable, Jeffrey Toobin.”
“You may have noticed I’m going to be telling some jokes tonight. I’m a comedian, not Kristin Synema.
Reference to the Oscars: “What if I make a really mean joke about Kellye Anne Conway and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?” (Chris Cuomo slam). Governor Abbott is providing free buses for the Telemundo table.”
(Ron DeSantis jokes, re his presidential ambitions). “You’re smarter than him. You’re fitter than him. You can walk down ramps.”
(To Biden): “I was a little confused as to why you picked me, but then I was told that you get your highest approval ratings when you’re standing next to a bi-racial Black guy.”
“Jill Biden is still teaching because she’s still paying off her student debt.” “Unemployment at 3.3%—2% if you don’t count the Cuomo family.” [Shots at MSNBC.] Shots at Joe & Mikka (“most adorable HR violation in town.”).
Mick Mulvaney (hired by CBS) was a target of Trevor Noah. “So many other huge talents who can no longer be mentioned in Florida.”
Chuck Todd: “I’d ask for a follow-up, but I know you don’t know what that is.” (slam)
“An interview with (Australian) Jonathan Swan is like being interviewed by a koala bear.”
NPR: “I wish you guys didn’t always have to beg for money. Maybe you’re spending too much on those tote bags. Who’s designing those things? Gucci?”
Fox News: “I think they get a bad rap. It just depends on when you watch. It’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but just wait until the sun goes down.” (“Their segments on Corona virus moved their viewers–right into the ICU.”) “Tucker Carlson: who else could fill an entire show each night asking questions that Google could easily answer?”
CNN: “I blame John King. Your magic wall can predict everything, but you spend $300 million on CNN+ and the wall can’t predict its failure?” CNN Breaking News banner: “Did they just turn it on during the O.J. case and just never figured out how to get rid of it?”
“The media is in a tough position: you’re battling conspiracy theories. (Named 3 biggies) and said, “And that’s just the people in this room.”
Conclusion: Serious message about the Fourth Estate and how it gives voice to those who, otherwise, would not have one. “Every single one of you is a bastion of democracy. If you ever begin to doubt, look no further than what is happening in Ukraine. In America you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth, even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Do you know how amazing that is? Do you really understand what a blessing that is? Maybe it’s happened so long that you don’t remember. Ask yourself this question: if Russian journalists who are losing their liveliood and their lives trying to tell stories or ask questions, would they be using that freedom in the same way that you do?”
So, the Correspondents’ Dinner on CNN was a four-hour entertainment fest that wasted 2 of the hours with replays of the Ukrainian conflict.
The “celebrities” that I saw were Kim Kardashian, and the guy who is now the lead on “Billions.” Aside from him, Don Lemon was about the most well-known, although Harry Hamlin entered with someone I think was his daughter, and his hair had been dyed blonde. Strange.
This night was no 2015 Seth Meyer performance, but Trevor Noah was topical and delivered well. The lack of any Grade “A” celebrities was noteworthy, with a very few exceptions, but it was a chance for Biden to show that he is not a thin-skinned dictator who can dish it out, but can’t take it, which DJT modeled at this same dinner in 2015.