WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Obama ribbed the press corps Friday night at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner in Washington, thanking them for "this opportunity to tell all the jokes that weren’t funny enough for me to use when we did this five weeks ago" at the more high-profile White House Correspondents Dinner.
“The jokes may not be as good - but neither is the guest list,” Obama joked. “For me there’s no contest. Why bother hanging out with celebrities when I can spend time with the people who made me one?"
“...A few nights ago, I was up tossing and turning trying to figure exactly what to say. Finally, when I couldn’t get back to sleep, I rolled over and asked [NBC News anchor] Brian Williams what he thought.”
The president also pointed to the massive federal effort to prop up failing industries. "As you know we’ve been working around the clock on to repair our major financial institutions and our auto companies," he told the crowd. "But you probably wouldn’t understand the concept of troubled industries, working as you do in radio and television."
That joke drew a half-hearted response from a ballroom of uneasy reporters working in an era of unprecedented journalism layoffs and buyouts.
Obama noted the unenthusiastic response. “Ho ho," he needled reporters. "We don’t joke about that. That’s not funny.”
But, he said, reporters should take heart: “Despite the flood of new media, I think your programming is more relevant than ever before," he said. "At least that’s the impression I get when I read the blogs every day.”