Trevor Noah at WHCA: "Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner?"

Trevor Noah at WHCA: "Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner?"
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

The White House continues to press for mask mandates in federal court yet no masks were seen during the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington Saturday night. Celebrity guest speaker Trevor Noah began with a good question. He asked, “For real, what are we doing here? Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Nothing?”

Noah went on to reference the fact that Dr. Fauci decided to skip the dinner out of concern that it could prove to be a super spreader event, just as the Gridiron dinner did on April 2, as the comedian mentioned. After that dinner in New York, 72 guests tested positive for COVID-19, including such high-ranking officials as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Attorney General Merrick Garland. The president bowed out of attending that dinner. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki made a point of saying that the First Couple would only attend the speaking portion of the program and skip the dinner and they would leave immediately after that part of the program. Watching the event on television, it could be seen that Biden remained after his speech and Noah’s bit, lingering to speak with some of the others on the dais and definitely not social distancing. There were no masks worn by anyone standing elbow to elbow with the president.

Now we wait to see how many dinner guests test positive for COVID-19. The point isn’t that it was definitely a potential super spreader but that the hypocrisy is impossible for ordinary people to ignore. Washington insiders, lawmakers, celebrities, and others in the public eye frequently flaunt their refusal to live as everyone else is told to do. This is just another example. It is also quite unseemly that the press corps holds an annual event to pat themselves on the back for doing their jobs, especially during times when we know they are not. To his credit, Trevor Noah did mention that he didn’t understand why the event continues to go on.

The WHCA frames the event as a fundraiser and the opportunity to present scholarships to journalism students. That’s fine but that isn’t what gets headlines. The dinner is the highlight of the year for D.C. insiders and celebrities who want to be seen hobnobbing with the rich and powerful. Most Americans don’t pay any attention to it. The popularity of the press is lower than the president. Biden even made a joke about that. Since the days of Bill Clinton’s administration, it has been obvious that the press is an arm of the DNC and there is no doubt for whom they side in their coverage of politics. It worsens with each administration. Trump was slammed by both Biden and Noah for not attending the event during his presidency (and for his reaction to Obama’s jabs at him when he was the president) but the fact is that for Trump’s term the press was too busy trying to make themselves into television stars than to objectively cover the president. Also, for the last two years of his term, the dinner was canceled due to the pandemic.

Biden led with a crack about Trump and continued to inject him into his remarks. Democrats just can’t quit him. Acknowledging that a sitting president hasn’t attended the dinner since Obama Biden said, “It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID.” The audience loved it. Sleepy Joe could do no wrong with that crowd. They are his people. There was a whole piece written last week in Politico about how boring the Biden presidency is for reporters. Covering the White House no longer seems like a prestigious assignment. This is why the public no longer trusts the press and sees them as out-of-touch with their readers and viewers.

Trevor Noah hit both sides of the aisle, as is tradition at this shindig. However, it was notable how he lingered on Fox News and also on Governor Ron DeSantis. Noah is a progressive, to be clear, and it must have been bittersweet to admit that FNC is the most watched cable news network and has been for years. Also, he mentioned that Sean Hannity now holds the record for the longest time on air with his show. Try as liberals may, they haven’t been able to get rid of Hannity.

Noah made references to misinformation spread during the pandemic by the nighttime opinion show hosts. During his remark about holding the event, he elaborated with a dig at Hannity. Why was the event being held?

He continued, “I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you, what are you doing?” Noah asked. “You spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large indoor gatherings. Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you turn into Joe Rogan.”

The attendees did have to show proof of vaccinations and provide a negative COVID test result prior to the dinner. Noah worked that into saying the Fox people in attendance were vaccinated, despite what some have said on the network about the vaccines.

“So if you are at home watching this, and you are wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They are all here. Vaccinated and boosted,” he quipped.

Noah slammed CNN for launching CNN Plus, saying the network’s ratings were dismal and that should have been a clue that no one wants more CNN.

As I mentioned, the takeaway was the obvious effect Governor DeSantis is having on Democrats. They must be pretty nervous about him running in 2024 because Noah devoted a good chunk of time to him. And, as usual, Biden devoted time to Trump and Republicans. President Unity enjoyed taking shots at his opposition and the audience egged him on. Like I said, Biden one of them.

I tuned in to watch the remarks from Biden and from Trevor Noah. There was one segment right before they spoke where the journalists who have died covering Putin’s invasion into Ukraine were honored. And, a mention was made of Benjamin Hall, the Fox reporter who is recovering from his injuries.

That’s another WHCA dinner in the books. There is no reason to hold them, of course, because they look tone-deaf in an age of a pandemic and financial recession. It looks like an unnecessary, narcissistic extravaganza.

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