Saturday April 30
On a star studded Saturday evening in Washington, D.C., 2,700 power and celebrity elites converged onto the Washington Hilton Hotel for the 102nd Annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The spotlight shone on U.S. President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, who, together with comedian Larry Wilmore, Host of “The Nightly Show”, Carol Lee, White House Correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest, sat center stage to host the evening. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden also attended the gala with daughter Ashley Biden.
Obama delivered a series of jokes interposed with digital punchlines and flanked with genuine appreciation for the support of the White House Correspondents’ Association during his eight year tenure in Washington.
In what will be the last of such dinners attended by President Obama and the First Lady while in office, the theme of the night was accordingly, in large part, about paying a proper farewell to the Commander in Chief of the Free World. The other large part involved taking jabs at the U.S. Presidential election contenders and members of the media.
Obama quibbed about using his speech material to make a fortune at Goldman Sachs next year, after his job as President of the United States expires. He joked about his highly discussed birth certificate, wife Michelle Obama’s workout regimen and Snapchat account, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s charm, meeting baby Prince George in his bathrobe, and how he plans to deal with his imminent lame duck status.
The President gave special shout outs to GOP Chairman Reince Priebus, New York billionaire Michael Bloomberg, supermodel Kendall Jenner and journalist Jason Rezaian. Obama took his jabs at Republic frontrunner Donald J. Trump., referring to Trump’s beauty pageant and hotel development expertise and Trump’s tweeting tendencies. And while Republic frontrunner Donald J. Trump declined to attend the event this year, his sons Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump were present with their wives Vanessa and Lara Trump.
A parody of Obama’s soon to be “Couch Commander” status was shown to the large audience, displaying the President’s playful and humorous spirit. A video homage to President Obama was also shown, with a view to history and humor, recapping the highlights (and hilarious gaffes) of Obama’s eight years in office.
On a more serious note, the President concluded his remarks by emphasizing the importance of facts, truth, investigation and objective journalism, and paid tribute to the free press.
Celebrities were out in full force: including India’s own, Priyanka Chopra, as well as Will and Jada Smith, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Rachel McAdams, Kendall Jenner, Morgan Freeman, Nina Dobrev, Gabrielle Union, Nyle DiMarco, Aretha Franklin and a litany of others. Political heavyweights present included U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Secretary of State John Kerry. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Christine La Garde, Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, also made their mark at the event.
The #WHCD in Washington shines as an evolved model for first class journalism and freedom of the press. In sharp contrast, India’s press corps is presently reeling from the embarrassing hangover of the massive Agusta Westland journalism scandal, which erupted just weeks ago.
Revelations in the high profile bribery probe showed that Agusta Westland, a U.K.-based helicopter corporation, paid nearly $8 million to Indian journalists to manage the media surrounding a lucrative defense contract. The shocking news earned Indian journalists the trending accolade of “presstitutes” this month, indicating the importance of setting a high bar for journalism standards, one worthy of applause and commendation.
With special thanks to c-span.org for a memorable #WHCD.
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