Comedian Roy Wood Jr. did something many guests at the annual White House Correspondents Dinner forget to do: celebrate journalism.
In a series of funny remarks that took on everything from Don Lemon to Fox News Channel’s massive $787.5 million settlement to Dominion Voting to President Biden’s age, Wood devoted significant time to calling for support for local journalism, noting that reporters working for regional and local media outlets are often the first to spot malfeasance or something wrong. He also mentioned his father’s work in local radio and his mother’s career in education.
The comments added a personal touch to the proceedings, which are organized each year by the White House Correspondents Association and meant to call attention to the mission of holding government officials accountable in reporting meant to be consumed by the American public.
The WHCA each year hires a comic to add levity and a few zingers to the proceedings. Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah, Larry Wilmore and Michelle Wolf are among those who have taken on the tricky assignment in the past.
Wood didn’t shy away from addressing current media controversies. Indeed, the events of this week — during which Fox News ousted primetime host Tucker Carlson and CNN cut ties with longtime anchor Don Lemon — likely made his assignment easier. “To Tucker’s staff, I want you to know that I know what you’re feeling,” Wood said. “I work at ‘The Daily Show’ so I too have been blind-sided by the sudden departure of a host of a fake news program.”
The comedian kicked off his remarks by noting that media and government were “united in scandal,” and then proceeded to look at Fox News Channel, and CNN. He also had a little time for former President Donald Trump: “Keeping up with Donald Trump scandals is like watching Star Wars movies,” Wood said. “Donald Trump is the only politician whose scandals got spin offs on Disney.”
But the media took the brunt of his remarks, with Wood calling out the seemingly permeable wall between the White House and anchoring roles at MSNBC; CNN anchor Don Lemon’s work on the network’s morning program; and Tucker Carlson’s exit from Fox News.
He also roasted Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, albeit lightly. “Is Joe Biden awake?” Wood asked/ ” Say what you want with our president — when he wakes up from that nap. Work gets done. He might doze off but then it’s infrastructure bill. Student loan forgiveness. Bring Brittney Griner home.”
The president also took part in the event, using his time at the dais to emphasize the importance of journalism to democracy and to re-emphasize vows to win freedom for wrongly imprisoned journalists such as the Wall Street Journal’s Evan Gershkovich and The Washington Post freelancer Austin Tice.
He did get in a few digs at Fox News Channel and others, including Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of Fox News corporate parent Fox Corp. “You might think I don’t like Rupert Murdoch. That’s simply not true. How can I dislike a guy who makes me look like Harry Styles?” he asked.
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