President Barack Obama brought his A-game and a few “dozens” to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Early to the podium, the Joker-in-Chief ribbed the Birthers by introducing what he said was a video of his birth, then up popped a clip from The Lion King. Mr. Obama did not spare making fun of himself by poking fun at his own poll numbers, but most of his ammunition was aimed at The Donald, who was reportedly booed when he arrived at the Washington Hilton, where the dinner was held. One joke that took Trump down hard involved Obama demonstrating how Trump’s Reality TV show, “The Celebrity Apprentice,” prepared Trump to be president of the free world.
“You, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership,” Obama said. “And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil Jon or Meat Loaf. You fired Gary Busey. These are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir.” The audience cackled as Trump grimaced.
The White House Correspondents’ Association has been hosting this bash since 1920. It got a reputation as a journalists prom because it was accompanied by an “entertainment extravaganza” that included singing, a movie, and a post-dinner show. Until 1962, only men could attend the event; however, President John F. Kennedy refused to participate unless the ban on women was dropped. Helen Thomas of UPI was the first woman to attend. Robert Ellison of Sheridan Broadcasting was the first African American to head the organization.
While the event was toned down during war years, it is larger than ever today. A-List celebrities seemed quite happy to mingle with politicians and journos. The platinum-selling, Grammy-winning hip hop artist, Cee-Lo donned all black for the event. Valerie Jarrett, accompanied her Harvard Law School graduate, Laura Jarrett, and singer John Legend posed for photos with the kind of beautiful woman we are accustomed to seeing tower over him. Bristol Palin seemed to be doing her best Snooky impersonation.
With no NFL spring training camp to attend, Terrell Owens kept busy partying the night away. NBA star Carmelo Anthony, fresh off the New York Knicks’ first round playoff defeat, escorted his wife LaLa Vazquez. Quincy Jones’ daughter, actress Rachida and “Ugly Betty” star America Ferrera were there as well. Jones Actor Don Cheadle and Bridgid Coulter and his longtime girlfriend with whom he has two children were also there. Other guests spotted over the weekend included, the singer will.i.am. and the actors Omar Epps, Kerry Washington, Rosario Dawson, and Mindy Kaling. Gail King seemed to be flying solo.
There were dozens of parties and receptions to keep the celebs entertained before and after the dinner. These included a pre-dinner brunch at the Georgetown mansion of multimillionaire and Cafe Milano owner, Mark Ein. Not to be outdone, Cafe Atlantico hosted a party for The Atlantic Magazine. The St. Regis feted guests of People and Time, and the W Hotel did the same for the New Yorker. Vanity Fair and Bloomberg opted for a more “private” affair at the home of the French ambassador. MSNBC took over the Italian Embassy for their after-party, while the Ronald Regan Building, Ritz-Carlton, and Hay-Adams held other events.
The only thing missing from the weekend? Oprah!