USA News

White House Correspondents’ Dinner gives Biden a chance to flex his funny bone


Washington
CNN

President Joe Biden will attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner Saturday evening, giving the president a stage and a prime-time time slot to jab the media and his rival, former President Donald Trump.

Biden will address a crowd of nearly 3,000 journalists, celebrities and politicians, continuing a tradition dating back to Calvin Coolidge of presidents addressing the dinner at least once during their terms in office. Trump did not attend the dinner as president, but had previously been invited as a private citizen.

In recent weeks, Biden has demonstrated an instinct that doesn’t necessarily come naturally to him – a sense of humor – to lash out at his rival, making fun of his hair; the decline in the stock price of Trump’s social media company; and the former president’s new attempt to sell Trump-branded Bibles to alleviate the inordinate attention and coverage Trump is receiving during his criminal trial.

“I haven’t had a chance to watch the court proceedings because I campaigned,” Biden told supporters at a campaign reception in New York on Thursday, according to pool reports.

Although Biden has already given many of these speeches, the stakes for what could be his final White House Correspondents’ Dinner are high. His approval rating is declining, and voters and donors are wondering if his mental acuity is up to the task.

When Biden gave a speech announcing he had signed crucial legislation sending $61 billion in aid to Ukraine and $26 billion in aid to Israel and Gaza, there was a new critic at his side : Jeffrey Katzenberg, co-chairman of Biden’s re-election campaign and former head of content studio Dreamworks.

Katzenberg often advised Biden on messaging to donors and voters. This week, he was on hand to see for himself how Biden delivered the scripted material — and to help the 81-year-old president deliver punchlines to the reporters who cover him.

“He’s the Hollywood guy,” an administration official told CNN. “He’s the artist.”

Administration officials said Katzenberg led daily strategy sessions at the White House residence this week to fine-tune Biden’s comedic set piece written by longtime speechwriter Vinay Reddy. The sessions lasted hours in the White House residence, where longtime aides Mike Donilon, Steve Ricchetti, Anita Dunn, press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Annie Tomasini helped organize the material and assisted Biden to refine his delivery and his tone.

The group held its longest session, about four hours with a brief break, on Friday – after the president returned from a two-day stay in New York – and reached consensus on the material a full day earlier than in previous years, when key contributors were forced to dress for the event in the West Wing because they were running very close to the deadline.

With Biden expected to spend much of his time targeting his Republican opponent, the White House wanted to ensure that the evening’s other headliner, Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost, would spread his barbs to across the political spectrum.

Biden administration officials said they were seeking to share this concern with Kelly O’Donnell, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association and NBC News senior White House correspondent, as well as with the Jost’s team in NBC’s entertainment division.

“Our entertaining dinners are most successful when they are aimed at both parties and the national media,” O’Donnell told CNN. “This has been a repeated part of our behind-the-scenes discussions at every stage of planning this year. This is the intention of the WHCA every year.

In recent weeks, Biden has criticized Trump, including his predecessor’s legal troubles. Mocking comments and jokes at Trump’s expense have increasingly become a staple of the president’s public remarks — and that will likely be one of the themes of Biden’s speech Saturday night in the cavernous ballroom at the Washington Hilton, a close source told CNN.

While Biden has increasingly used comedy to go after Trump, his default rhetorical style generally isn’t about going for a punchline.

“He used the phrase ‘Not a joke, folks’ more than actual jokes,” a former aide said.

When it comes time to deliver a comedic speech, the task of writing it is usually a group affair, with jokes submitted from different parts of Biden’s orbit. Katzenberg, in particular, urged Biden to include more self-deprecating jokes about his age.

Biden will give some guidelines to his writers as they embark on the process, including naming areas he thinks should be off-limits or places where he wants to strike a more serious note.

Staff members — even those who aren’t part of the speech-writing team — submit joke ideas, some of which become part of the speech and some of which are thrown in.

In recent years, Rob Flaherty, former director of digital strategy and now deputy campaign manager, and Dan Cluchey, senior speechwriter, have been cited as sending some of the most choice materials.

Biden, when he was vice president, also sought outside help for the comedic speeches he gave at the annual Gridiron dinner and in other light-hearted settings. Among those Biden turned to was Jon Macks, a lead writer for “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” who also wrote hosting material for dozens of Oscar ceremonies, as well as a vast constellation of knowledge. A person involved in the process when Biden was vice president recalled a submission from Seth Meyers, then the editor-in-chief of “Saturday Night Live.”

Before big speeches — and, because of the importance of timing and cadence, especially comedic speeches — Biden practices with groups of aides.

At past dinners, Biden has alternated between funny and serious. Toeing that line could be a trickier balance at this year’s dinner, against the backdrop of a war and hunger crisis in Gaza and unrest on college campuses across the country, during which some police officers have had resorting to heavy-handed tactics to disperse groups of students. protest against this war.

Although the dinners are intended to be light, some past events have had broad political ramifications.

When Trump attended the 2011 dinner as a guest, President Barack Obama mocked the then-reality TV star, mocking the baseless and false “birther” conspiracy theory that Trump had promoted his appearance on “The Apprentice”.

“You didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey,” Obama said, joking about Trump’s experience in difficult situations. “And those are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.”

Obama said that line gave the green light to the raid that would lead to the death of Osama bin Laden just before he attended the dinner. Many have speculated that Obama’s treatment of Trump at the 2011 dinner inspired Trump to run for president.

This year’s dinner will be broadcast live on CSPAN and CNN will air a special featuring Biden’s remarks and Jost’s performance.

When asked before the weekend whether Biden was looking forward to or dreading the dinner, a senior adviser insisted to CNN that the president actually enjoys the event because he enjoys spending time with reporters.

But the counselor quickly added: “I don’t think he would ever admit it.” »

News Source : amp.cnn.com
Gn usa

jack colman

With a penchant for words, jack began writing at an early age. As editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper, he honed his skills telling impactful stories. Smith went on to study journalism at Columbia University, where he graduated top of his class.After interning at the New York Times, jack landed a role as a news writer. Over the past decade, he has covered major events like presidential elections and natural disasters. His ability to craft compelling narratives that capture the human experience has earned him acclaim.Though writing is his passion, jack also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading historical fiction in his free time. With an eye for detail and knack for storytelling, he continues making his mark at the forefront of journalism.
Back to top button