Obama Jokes About Hillary Clinton, ‘Blackish’ at White House Correspondents Dinner

WASHINGTON — President Obama once again threw out cutting zingers at this year’s White House Correspondents Assn. dinner, skewering cable news, the Republican presidential field and even Hillary Clinton’s just started presidential campaign.

And in a nod to his takedown of Donald Trump in 2011, he noted Trump’s presence at this dinner. “And Donald Trump is here. Still.”

After welcoming the cast of ABC’s “Blackish” comedy, he warned: “(But) being ‘Blackish’ only makes you popular for so long.”

One of his biggest laughs came when he noted that people ask him, “Mr. Obama, do you have a bucket list? Well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list.”

His quip about Hillary Clinton came when he noted that some Americans were going through tough times. “I have one friend who was making millions of dollars a year and now she is living out of a van in Iowa.”

He also added a twist to his delivery, bringing on “Luther, the anger translator,” aka Keegan-Michael Key, to shed light on his true feelings about media coverage of the job he is doing.

One of his biggest laughs came when he talked about his close relationship with Vice President Joseph Biden. “We’ve gotten so close that in some places in Indiana they won’t serve us pizza anymore.”

The event has gained a reputation for being “Washington’s wildest week,” as a new documentary, “Nerd Prom,” dubbed it, for the unusual mix of celebrity, media figures and government officials. In fact, the White House Correspondents Assn. has grappled with the fact that so much of what goes on during the weekend has little to do with their mission, freedom of the press and access to the president.

This year, a number of reporters wore “Free Jason” lapel pins, and in her remarks at the event, the president of the WHCA, Christi Parsons, cited the case of Washington Post Tehran correspondent Jason Rezaian, under arrest in Iran since July 22 and being held on charges related to his reporting.

Jane Fonda, Bradley Cooper and Laverne Cox were among the show biz figures attending, with the celebrity quotient noticeably muted from past years, when it was hard to keep track of all of the A-listers and tabloid darlings who populated the event. Still, there was a red carpet at the Washington Hilton, with political reporters like Bloomberg Politics’ Mark Halperin interviewing, E! style, the likes of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and potential presidential contender Martin O’Malley.

As usual, the pre-parties at the Washington Hilton offered unexpected moments. At the Yahoo-ABC News party, Justice Antonin Scalia sipped a martini and posed for photos near Katie Couric. Asked whether this was his first dinner, Scalia said that he’d been several times before, including as a guest of Fox News, but took a break. The trouble was that one of the featured comics told too many dirty and offensive jokes, he said. He couldn’t remember who the comic was, though, “I waited five years. It was safe to come back,” he quipped.

At the CBS News-The Atlantic party, Bob Schieffer, recently retired as host of “Face the Nation,” brought along Tea Leoni, star of “Madam Secretary.” Leoni’s co-star, Tim Daly, escorted former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Trump worked the press line, even as most attendees were being told to get through security into the cavernous ballroom in the basement of the Hilton.

“This is an opportunity to see these political figures like human beings,” said singer JC Chasez, at his fourth dinner. “It feels like, at least from the outside looking in, that this is the one moment where everybody seems to let their guard down a little bit, put things off one the issues a little bit. They are just willing to be happy and have a little bit of fun. If you can poke fun at yourself, it is a good thing.”

At the Washington Post pre-party was an Oculus display of a virtual reality White House. While it had its share of takers willing to test the demonstration, the focus was still on celebrity.

Bryan Singer flew in from Montreal with “X-Men: Apocalypse” co-stars Sophie Turner and Tye Sheridan. The movie starts production on Monday.

“By night, we enjoy the festivities,” said Singer, in for his third dinner. “By day, we are actually working on our final touches.”

He offered his take on the co-mingling of D.C. and showbiz.

“Both are part of the media by the very nature of their jobs, and we don’t get to cross mingle very often,” he said. “It is an opportunity for people on our side of the media, entertainment, to be able to interface with those in politics and government. It’s just a very rare moment.”

More Biz

  • New York City NYC Placeholder

    City FM Podcast Takes a Deep Look at New York’s Music Scene (Listen)

    First among the many projects listed at the beginning of New York Music Month in June was a WNYE radio show and podcast called City FM that promised to “explore the city’s music culture, emerging artists and trends, and upcoming events told through the lens of what’s happening around the city in Summer 2019.” And [...]

  • Live Nation Logo. (PRNewsFoto/Live Nation)

    Live Nation Confirms Placing Tickets Directly on Secondary Market at Artists’ Request

    Representatives for Live Nation, the world’s largest live-entertainment company and owner of Ticketmaster, confirmed that it bypassed conventional channels and directly placed thousands of concert tickets on the secondary market upon artists’ request, in an article published in Billboard. In a statement shared with Variety, the company acknowledged that it has facilitated the transfer of [...]

  • Costume designer Michele Clapton

    Costume Designers Fashion a Plan to Fight for Pay Parity in Upcoming Contract Talks

    The Costume Designers Guild Local 892 is gearing up to fight for pay equity in its 2021 contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, establishing a pay-equity committee to raise awareness of the scale disparity between the mostly female CDG membership and the mostly male membership of the Art Directors Guild Local [...]

  • Jussie Smollett

    Jussie Smollett Seeks to Stop Appointment of Special Prosecutor

    Jussie Smollett’s lawyers filed a motion on Friday to overturn the appointment of a special prosecutor in his hate crime hoax case, arguing the appointment would expose the “Empire” actor to double jeopardy. Smollett is seeking to reverse an order issued last month by Judge Michael Toomin, who faulted Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx [...]

  • Katy Perry American Idol judge

    Katy Perry Testifies in ‘Dark Horse’ Copyright Trial

    Katy Perry took the stand Thursday and testified that she had never heard the song “Joyful Noise” before she was accused of infringing on its copyright, according to ABC 7 in Los Angeles. Christian hip-hop artist Marcus Gray and the song’s co-writers claim that Perry’s 2013 track “Dark Horse” uses an uses an instrumental phrase [...]

  • Kannan Alagappan - Dish

    Dish Hires Ex-Telstra Exec Kannan Alagappan as CTO

    Dish Network hired Kannan Alagappan, who has held technology leadership roles with telecom and cloud services providers including Australia’s Telstra, Reliance’s Jio and Rackspace, as SVP and chief technology officer. Alagappan assumes the CTO role after the exit of former chief technology officer Vivek Khemka in August 2018 to join John Malone’s Liberty Latin America. [...]

  • The Lion King

    'Lion King' VFX Supervisor Rob Legato to Keynote at the 2019 View Conference

    Rob Legato, visual effects supervisor of “The Lion King,” “The Addams Family” co-director Conrad Vernon and Baobab Studios’ co-founder and chief creative officer Eric Darnell, director of the VR studio’s Emmy- and Annie-winning VR short “Crow: The Legend,” are rounding out the keynote speakers at this fall’s 20th edition of the View Conference in Turin, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content