July 20th, 2007
11:20 AM ET
9 years ago

Dave Chappelle: Next White House press secretary?

Chappelle told CNN’s Ed Henry his favorite part of the Bush presidency is “the nicknames.”

From CNN White House Correspondent Ed Henry

WASHINGTON (CNN) - One of the best parts of the White House beat is that you just never know who's going to show up at those black iron gates at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

There was the time I bumped into St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa wearing a business suit in the West Wing - he looked so odd without a ballcap and uniform but was a really nice guy. Or that night a couple of weeks back when I was heading to a live shot on the North Lawn and ran into Bo Derek arriving for a tour. (Let's just say she's still a "10," ok?)

And then there was this morning: Who knew I'd run into the comedian Dave Chappelle, just a couple days after he was hospitalized for exhaustion?

As I arrived at the White House by foot, I noticed a small group of Secret Service officers gathered around a man with a black backpack but didn't think too much of it. People with backpacks somewhat routinely show up at the White House gates saying they have an appointment with the president, when they really do not. Thankfully, the backpacks are usually just full of harmless literature about the individual's pet cause. The Secret Service may take a brochure about Power Yoga or something, and the individual goes on his merry way without incident.

But as I headed through the screening machine in the Secret Service's security shack, I overheard someone say, "Hey, that's Dave Chappelle out there. That's Dave Chappelle, I'm telling you."

"No way," I said. "Isn't he in the hospital?"

But then I spun around and looked through the glass of the security shack to find a guy who indeed looked exactly like Chappelle. I couldn't resist chasing a story - even a non-political one - so I grabbed my backpack and headed back to the street.

A man was standing at the gate asking Chappelle, "Are you who I think you are?"

Chappelle scrunched his face into that familiar pose and declared: "And who do you think I am?"

Confirmed - it was him. So I introduced myself and started walking with Chappelle toward the Treasury Department.

Chappelle looked healthy in a pair of black athletic pants and matching polo shirt. But there was a solitary cigarette with a lighter cupped delicately in his left hand as he walked casually, politely stopping at one point so that he did not step in the way of a tourist snapping a photo of her family in front of the North Portico of the White House.

I asked what he was doing in Washington. "I'm just taking a stroll from Georgetown to the Hill," he said, reminding me that he hails from Washington, his time in the city being one of the funnier riffs on his show.

Chappelle said he was feeling good and then asked me a question about covering the White House. "Has the president given you a nickname?" he asked.

Believe it or not, this is a frequent query because the president used to hand out nicknames to reporters like "Stretch" to a tall guy and "Super Stretch" to an even taller correspondent. But that's sooooo 2001 - I started covering Mr. Bush in the second term so I never got one.

"Oh," Chappelle cracked. "That's my favorite part of the Bush presidency - the nicknames."

Since Chappelle made international headlines in 2005 by essentially disappearing for awhile under strange circumstances - and walking away from a $50 million deal to continue his show on Comedy Central - I asked what he's doing next.

"I want your job,” he said, explaining that it’s fun to watch reporters go back-and-forth with White House Press Secretary Tony Snow.

"Or maybe I'll take Tony Snow's job," Chappelle smiled. "I think that's a cool job."

Neither Tony nor I get $50 million. But we both have great jobs - plus you never know who you'll run into next around here.


Filed under: President Bush
soundoff (203 Responses)
  1. Wilcoy, Columbia, SC

    I'd love to see a one on one with President Bush and Dave Chapelle.

    July 19, 2007 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  2. Martha, Austin, TX

    Ummm...I love Dave Chappelle, and was hoping that he really was getting a WH post..but, nope, just another stupid story meant to drag folks like me to click on something...*sigh*

    July 19, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  3. USA

    We are all dumber for having read this article.

    July 19, 2007 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  4. nick, new orleans, la

    I'm sorry that I wasted three minutes reading this. Why is this linked from the front page of CNN.com?

    July 19, 2007 09:06 pm at 9:06 pm |
  5. Jay Will, Miami FL

    Love Ya Dave! So much hating...jealousy really is a disease you know.

    July 19, 2007 09:17 pm at 9:17 pm |
  6. alex ,norfolk, va

    i think that mike doesnt relize the difference between entertainment and what chappelle might think himself.....the show was not all of his own thoughts but what would sell...the fact is chappelle could have never mentioned bush during the interview...and the most prolific killer is americans themselves...grow up and stop blaming the president cuz he doesnt make laws your perfect lil congress votes for all that...

    July 19, 2007 09:22 pm at 9:22 pm |
  7. Me, Albany, NY

    Did anyone notice the comment from Dave Chappelle? Do you suppose it was really him? I see that there are comments on everything except that.

    July 19, 2007 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  8. Michael, Seattle

    Not interesting? No story here? Man, don't people ever just want to sit back and read something NOT about war, corruption, the worst side of athletes (who are humans so they manke some mistakes. Some HUGE mistakes but what do I care?, or about anything else terrible going on in the world? Nice article... just something lite to run through for a break in the end-of-the-world chatter we usually get to read.

    July 19, 2007 10:00 pm at 10:00 pm |
  9. Joe Schmoe, NYC

    Wow, so many whiners on here. Nice job, Ed. Who cares if this is a political ticker? Most everything we read about politics is about something rancid and trashy. The last thing we need is more info on the loser politicians and their idiot hordes (AKA most of the whiners on here looking for more bad news so they can sound like they know anything about the world to their friends at one of their lame dinner parties).

    July 19, 2007 10:06 pm at 10:06 pm |
  10. Steve in Denver

    For someone right out of high school to get on CNN, that was pretty funny.

    July 19, 2007 10:29 pm at 10:29 pm |
  11. Scott, Portsmouth NH

    "While many of us don’t think highly of this administration we don’t feel the need to spout hatred at every opportunity."

    Why not? He lied to start a war. One million innocent people are dead. Millions are penniless refugees, we’ve borrowed $500 billion to pay for this mess and are leaving the bill with interest to our children.

    And while the entire rest of the world has been running tearjerking human interest stories about Iraqi lives destroyed for five years now CNN hasn’t run a single one. Not one.

    Calling CNN journalism is like calling a crack dealer a “pharmaceutical rep.”

    Never in the history of America has the press abandoned their responsibility like they are today. The damage that has caused America and the world is immense.

    CNN is un-American to the core.

    July 19, 2007 10:30 pm at 10:30 pm |
  12. Say it how it is!

    You actually got paid for this story? It sounded more like my girlfriend telling me what she ate today, as if it where a highlight of the day.

    You should really write about important stuff. Its a shame that reporters write about nonsense and waste readers time!

    Whats a matter? Writers Block?

    July 19, 2007 10:41 pm at 10:41 pm |
  13. Jocelyn, LI, NY

    i found the article fun and refreshing. great job, ed!

    July 19, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  14. Josh, Des Moines IA

    Let's here some more bad stuff that's going on in the world.... That's what all these negative people want. Just because you read the article and thought Dave was going to hate on Bush and he didn't, doesn't make it pointless. Nice article – it's nice reading something that doesn't involve someone dying.

    July 19, 2007 11:16 pm at 11:16 pm |
  15. Anonymous

    This story sucks.

    July 19, 2007 11:24 pm at 11:24 pm |
  16. Caleb - Pembroke VA

    Good story – reporters need entertainment too you know...how many times can one person hear "stay the course" – "need more time" – "executive privilege" or "democrates" (don't worry, I equally hate all finger pointing political figures and there tools)
    Oh, special interest folks – stop using this feature to get your msg out (MV petition – give me a break)

    July 19, 2007 11:36 pm at 11:36 pm |
  17. BH9720, Phoenix, AZ

    I can't believe this story is on CNN's home page. This kind of stuff belongs on The Onion. Nobody cares what Dave Chappelle thinks about Bush.

    July 19, 2007 11:38 pm at 11:38 pm |
  18. k - louisville

    cool story!

    July 19, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  19. Tammie Lakeland, FL

    May I please have those 5 minutes of my life back that I threw away reading this article?

    July 19, 2007 11:49 pm at 11:49 pm |
  20. Marc, Atllanta, GA

    You've got to be kidding! This is posted on the "front page" of cnn.com? This isn't news! I thought Chapelle might actually be considering a run for office. All this is, is some reporter's run-in with a celebrity. One time, I saw Quentin Tarrantino at a coffee shop...guess maybe I should write for CNN.

    July 20, 2007 12:36 am at 12:36 am |
  21. Mrs. America

    I've never heard of this Chapelle person, but I did follow T-Bone's link to write to the football people about that horrendous dog fighting. I don't know what's worse, that or bull fighting. Animals have no chance in either case as humans always rig the fights. Shameful.

    As for Ed Henry, he does a great job covering the WH, and if he wants to throw in some fluff every now and then, so what. Maybe this Chapelle person will get Tony Snow's job and we'll realize Ed Henry was right on top of the story.

    As far as famous people go, I saw Pete Rose promoting a book in-uh, Las Vegas!

    I think I have the bases covered on this rambling thread. Thankfully, my vacation ends in a couple weeks and I won't feel compelled to use the Ticker and AC's blog for my main entertainment.

    July 20, 2007 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  22. Steven, Elmira, NY

    Thanks for keeping it light. It's easy to tire of reading about the sadness of the world. I usually don't read news stories anymore – just browse the headlines and images.

    This one made me smile.

    July 20, 2007 12:40 am at 12:40 am |
  23. Michael Flessas, Katrineholm, Sweden

    Yawn Another puff piece/useless report from CNN (CredulousNebbishers interviewing so-called Newsmakers).

    July 20, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  24. IF Colorado

    Dave as a press secretary for Bush? This kind of speculation almost, almost, gives some hint of a soul to the Bush administration, but then there's reality. Complimenting this administration on its nicknames is kind of like complimenting Joseph Stalin for his table manners.

    July 20, 2007 12:44 am at 12:44 am |
  25. Jon B Oklahoma City, OK

    I like how most of the folks commenting from Cali have something negative to say about this article (which is very good, btw)...they must be taking a break from writing "Harry Potter" spoilers on the forums.

    July 20, 2007 12:51 am at 12:51 am |
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