President Biden addressed the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner (WHCA), as the event returned after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic.
Why it matters: He’s the first U.S. president to attend the usually annual gathering of journalists, politicos and celebrities since Barack Obama in 2016 — something Biden acknowledged in his speech, following up with a dig at his predecessor former President Trump.
- “It’s understandable. We had a horrible plague followed by two years of COVID,” Biden said.
What else he’s saying: Biden also took a swipe at Fox News, over accusations that some of its hosts have fueled COVID-19 vaccine hesitation, noting “everyone had to prove they are fully vaccinated and boosted” at the event.
- “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.
- Biden also noted that he was in a room with members of the media — the “only group of Americans who have a lower approval rating than I have.”
Yes, but: The president also stressed that a free press “is not the enemy of the people” — a phrase former president Trump has sometimes used to describe the American media.
- “Where the truth is buried by lies and the lies live on as truth, what’s clear, and I mean this in the bottom of my heart, that you — the free press — matter more than you ever did in the last century,” Biden said.
- He added that “American democracy is not a reality show,” in another apparent reference to Trump, the former star of NBC’s “Apprentice.”
Of note: Axios’ Jonathan Swan was recognized at the WHCA with 2022 Aldo Beckman Award for Overall Excellence in White House Coverage for his investigative reporting on former President Trump’s final months in the White House, as captured in Axios’ web series “Off the Rails.”
Editor’s note: This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.