After several serious weeks for the American public, President Barack Obama showed his lighter side this weekend at the annual White House Correspondent’s Association dinner. Obama was joined by the event’s host, late night television talk show host Conan O’Brien as journalists who cover the presidency were honored at the star-studded gala in Washington DC.
As is traditional for the annual awards ceremony, the president attends the event in a more relaxed capacity, and is the recipient as well as the deliverer of pointed barbs directed to his political friends, rivals, and himself.
Among the many jokes made by Obama at the 2013 dinner, the Associated Press reports on one in which he described his own transformation from socialist revolutionary into a retiree and golfer, after which he showed a mocked up cover of a magazine called “Senior Leisure.” He also showed a photograph of himself sporting his wife Michelle’s now famous bangs. Keeping with the lighthearted mood of the event, the president walked onto the stage to DJ Khaled’s song, “All I Do Is Win,” a reference to his recent reelection and the beginning of his second term.
As the host, O’Brien made several jokes at the expense of the gathered politicians and journalists. O’Brien savaged Vice-President Joe Biden by showing a video of his past mistakes, and then compared himself to Obama by saying, “We both went to Harvard. We both have two children and we both told Joe Biden we didn’t have extra tickets for tonight’s event.”
After several jokes, Obama did acknowledge the tragedies that have occurred around the country last week, most notably the bombing of the Boston Marathon and the explosion of a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, praising first responders and the journalists that covered these events.
The event was not without true controversy however, as many prominent members of the news media, including Barbara Walters and Tom Brokaw criticized the guest lists for including too many celebrities, which not only takes the focus away from the political reporters that are meant to be honored, but breaks down the barriers of the people who are being reported on and the people who are doing the reporting. “I think any organization… has to have kind of a self-policing instinct and what we’re doing with that dinner, as it has been constituted for the past several years, is saying ‘We’re Versailles. The rest of you eat cake,’” Brokaw told Politico. “There was more dignity at my daughter’s junior prom than there is [at] what I’m seeing on C-SPAN there.”
Image Credit: Reuters/The White House