June 20th, 2009
09:18 AM ET
13 years ago

Obama punch lines take aim at Washington press corps

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.”

Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. sixstring9

    How true it is....Bernie Goldberg is right....the media's slobbering love affair with BO is now a bragging right.

    June 20, 2009 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  2. Matt

    Finally, Obama is honest.

    I guess there really is a first time for everything.

    June 20, 2009 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  3. Veronica

    I gotta hand it to President Obama – he has an EXCELLENT sense of humor!!

    June 20, 2009 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  4. Glen

    Even Obama is starting to get embarrassed with the drooling main stream media. The strain of being a celebrity is hell

    June 20, 2009 09:37 am at 9:37 am |
  5. Bruce

    He may be trying to joke around but it's true.

    June 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  6. ck

    I expect censorship is next from this arrogant leader.

    He already refuses to disclose who visits the White House, and that is owned by us, the taxpayers. WHAT IS HE HIDING???


    Our freedoms are being taken away under this administration.

    June 20, 2009 09:39 am at 9:39 am |
  7. GOPer

    Job Well Done

    June 20, 2009 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  8. Travis

    I have a joke,
    So Obama, Gerald Walpin & Kevin Johnson walk into a bar. And Obama says "your fired Walpin" waka waka waka

    June 20, 2009 09:44 am at 9:44 am |
  9. Cindy Merrill

    Are you sure Obama was joking? No, seriously, has anyone asked Brian Williams about this; The guy hasn't asked the President a hard question since the 2008 campaign.
    The one question noone has the gus to ask: Why do low income diabetics, special need diet Americans receive the same amount of SNAP credit as others who don't require special diets do?
    Isn't President Obama aware that dietic -low glycemic foods cost more? His wife did work in a hospital, after all.

    June 20, 2009 09:45 am at 9:45 am |
  10. steve

    The trouble with America is most people do not investigate what goes on in America or the world for themselves or think for themselves but let the media and corrupt politicians make their decisions. That is why the world is in such bad shape because most people are gullable.

    June 20, 2009 09:49 am at 9:49 am |
  11. Gary

    President Obama is a very funny and charismatic person, I saw some clips of this event and fount it very well done...

    Now what is wrong is borrowing #2 Trillion this year and $5 Trillion over the next 4 years. A healthcare plan that will add an additional $1 to $1.5 Trillion on top of the $5 Trillion. Continued bailouts of banks and car companies. A move toward socialization of healthcare, banking and the auto industry. I love obama's charm but his policies are going to damage our country and our economy. We need to let the free market work (and at times fail) and encourage people to work and save rather than expand the entitlement programs. I don't mind higher taxes on the rich as long as we get some taxes and work out of the poor. EVERYONE SHOULD WORK 40 hours per week. If they can't find a job then 40 hours of documented "volunteer" work. EVERYONE SHOULD PAY SOME TAXES (even poor people, even if it is only 5%)....I work 60 hours per week, everyone can at least put in 40 hours.

    June 20, 2009 09:50 am at 9:50 am |
  12. Simmy

    "JibJab" til the cows come home.....The MAN has skills! You still ROCK, Mr. President! God bless America!

    HAPPY FATHERS' DAY to ALL fathers....You are appreciated! I dearly LOVE mine!!!!!!!!

    June 20, 2009 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  13. Jim1

    Enjoyed watching this last night. Lightened the criticism that goes on in the news and blogs.

    I one time said computers would change the world. For the first time we get easier access to what is going on in Washington and who passes what and who says what. I never knew that some of these senators were such ill informed people or haven't a clue how their own country is. When I was ready to give up on this country...since Bush won the last election and I believed "no way" I quit... no more politics or voting but 4 years later then I heard Joe Biden say get up, get up. So I did that. Glad I did.

    June 20, 2009 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  14. Charlie in Maine

    Funny and wise. A great combination. I know he writes his own speeches, but does he write his own jokes too?

    June 20, 2009 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  15. GI Joe

    CNN going down because they offer air-heads an stir up division and hate. Spinning is one thing, but mis-reporting is the pits. WE know how to do our own fact-check. Monotones are also putting us to sleep.

    June 20, 2009 10:25 am at 10:25 am |
  16. Raj

    Specifically speaking about these instances when it comes to jokes and mocking the media and being funny...former President Bush takes the cake over Obama. Bush is a lot funnier and better at improv and comedic performances than Obama. And last night's speech wasn't that funny at all. However, if i attended a dinner with the president, I would have laughed at everything too.

    June 20, 2009 10:32 am at 10:32 am |