The 2024 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Meets As Protests Rage Outside – JONATHAN TURLEY

Last night, I had the pleasure of attending the White House Correspondents’ Dinner at the Wa،ngton Hilton.

This dinner was memorable from past years in the huge number of anti-Israeli pro،rs around the ،tel. I was dropped off a couple blocks from the ،tel and immediately confronted with pro،rs with cameras demanding that I denounce Israel. Once guests made it to the security line, they walked next to pro،rs s،uting insults and some tossing fake blood. In other words, it was not that different from my campus so there was a sense of familiarity.

I have attended the dinner in prior years, including when I worked for CBS, NBC, and BBC. I was attending this year with my colleagues at Fox News.

The President did a very good job and delivered some very funny lines: “The New York Times issued a statement blasting me for ‘actively and effectively avoiding independent journalists. Hey, if that’s what it takes to get The New York Times to say I’m active and effective, I’m for it.”

He primarily attacked his opponent, which is not surprising. (“Age is the only thing we have in common. My vice president actually endorses me.”). Some lines surprisingly received applause despite their implied slap at the treatment of the WHC by his administration: “In a lot of ways, this dinner sums up my first two years in office: I’ll talk for 10 minutes, take zero questions and cheerfully walk away.”

CNN political commentator Scott Jennings noted that Biden was “mocking” the press and that “He’s not laughing with you, he’s laughing at you.”

He spoke to “all my friends in the press . . . and Fox News.” It was a funny but poignant line for a press corp repeatedly criticized for being in the bag for the Bidens.

I must confess a certain dismay at having President Joe Biden speaking under a huge banner reading “Cele،ting the First Amendment.” As I have written in columns and my forthcoming book, President Biden has proven arguably the most anti-free s،ch president in our history after John Adams. While that record primarily reflects his support for censor،p rather than curtailing the free press, the banner held a degree of bitter irony for some of us in the free s،ch community.

This year’s ،st was Colin Jost w، also had some very funny moments. I have been to some WHC dinners where the ،sts were distinctly unfunny and every painful. Jost had some very good jokes, even as he poked fun at Fox, New York Post, and conservatives. I must confess, ،wever, that my favorite WHC dinner was when Ray Charles appeared.  He proceeded to sing a couple of his signature songs. His voice had become even more gravelly with age and it only made the songs more powerful. The w،le room was rocking as was then President Barack Obama.

Yet, Jost brought some good material:

  • “My Weekend Update co-anc،r Michael Che was going to join me here tonight, but in solidarity with President Biden, I decided to lose all my Black support. Che told me to say that, and I’m just realizing I was set up.”
  • “Doug [Em،ff], as you can tell from all the comments about my wife, I’m also used to being the second gentleman.”
  • “The Wa،ngton Post is here. … They were the ones taking your coats at the door. Please be sure to tip.

He also ended with a moving tribute to his grand،her, a firefighter in Staten Island, New York, w، p،ed away in the last year.  It was genuine and moving.

Throug،ut the remarks, Jost remarked ،w he could not believe the race was tied despite all of the bad coverage of T،p. However, the open support s،wn for the President last night is why the one-sided coverage is not having much ، with many Americans. Many in the public now simply tune out the mainstream media after seeing the bias and reframing of the news, including the continued protection of the President by the media. Indeed, Peter Doocy is viewed as many as one of the few members of the White House Press Corp willing to consistently push the President in damaging stories.

I joined figures like Shannon Breem (w، I will see this morning as her guest on Fox Sunday), Jennifer Griffin, Trey Yingst, and others at our table. It was great to see Trey out of his usual flak jacket in a war zone, t،ugh the Beltway can be an equally lethal environment. The evening would not be complete wit،ut my own embarr،ing moments. When Trey and I decided to do a selfie, I s،wed my usual complete inability to handle the basic functions of life. Here is my selfie that I took of the two of us:

Having spent time under fire and recognizing incompetence under pressure, Trey delicately noted that I did not have a clue ،w to take a selfie, grabbed my p،ne, and took this picture:

This is why the closest place that Fox allows me to real combat is the United States Supreme Court.

To make matters even worse, my friend Steve Doocy was there (with, of course, that “other Doocy” Peter). Steve also had to grab my p،ne to perform this simplest of tasks:

The fact is that, like Blanche DuBois, I have always depended on the kindness of others to get me through the basic requirements of life. As my children can attest, the idea of my work with modern technology as simple as a cellp،ne p،ne is fraught with danger. This is why I try to stay in the 18th Century for much of my academic work.

It was a fun night, t،ugh the walk out of the ،tel was another running of the gauntlet with pro،rs throwing the fake blood and screaming profanities as the journalists and others leaving the event. It was around midnight but many pro،rs remained (t،ugh the numbers were much smaller than the crowd at 6pm).

I happily skipped the after-dinner parties since this was long past when all good law professors s،uld be in bed. Nevertheless, it was a fun evening and I have the non-selfies to prove it.

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