L. Carol Ritchie
President Obama made fun of himself at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday, the annual nerd-ball schmooze fest where Washington's media stars get comfy with a mix of political bigwigs and Hollywood beautiful people to celebrate a year of journalism.
Obama, known for his comic timing and delivery, didn't disappoint.
On a certain news network's favor for so-called "birthers": "Let's face it, Fox: You will miss me when I'm gone. It will be harder to convince the American people that Hillary was born in Kenya."
Of CNN's wall-to-wall coverage of the search for the missing Malaysian jet: "Yes, I am happy to be here, even though I am a little jet-lagged from my trip to Malaysia. The lengths we have to go to to get CNN coverage these days! I think they are still searching for their table."
On MSNBC's sagging viewer numbers: "I think they're a little overwhelmed. They've never seen an audience this big before."
House Speaker John Boehner's tan got a quip: "These days, the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me. Which means orange really is the new black."
Of his administration's flubbed rollout of HealthCare.gov, Obama observed that he replaced his campaign slogan "Yes We Can" with "control-alt-delete." Then, joking that Hollywood made a movie out of the Obamacare launch, he flashed a photo of Disney's Frozen.
The audience loved it.
The night was preceded by media criticism of its own event, with columnists like Emily Heil of the Washington Post slamming the dinner as too cozy, too incestuous, too lavish a mix of reporters and the people they are employed to report about.
Among the celebrity attendees were Oscar winner Lupita Nyong'o, Elizabeth Chambers and Armie Hammer, Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Julianna Margulies and too many others to recount.
Jack Mirkinson of Huffington Post calls it the "White House Correspondents' Dinner Self-Flagellation Tour."
"It happens like clockwork: journalists and celebrities gather in Washington for the White House Correspondents' Dinner, they go to party after party, they have lavish brunches, they slap each other's backs and laugh at jokes — and they all spend a lot of time talking about how much they shouldn't be doing any of it and maybe they're letting journalism and their country down," Mirkinson writes.
The Independent, however, said the event lacked the star-wattage of previous dinners. The Hollywood Reporter speculates that celebs could be staying away after too many "weird experiences."
"A lot of the people who have gone say they'll never do it again," the Reporter quotes an anonymous source as saying. "The room is so crowded. It's uncontrolled. There's no limit to the number of people trying to get photos and autographs — and there's no way to hide from it. It's like the stars are animals in a cage."
Instead, Silicon Valley A-listers provided the glamour, writes the Independent. BuzzFeed and Facebook threw one of the most prominent parties Friday at a D.C. bar, and Yahoo! reserved six tables.
"It has ballooned into a long weekend of schmoozing, with nine pre-dinner parties taking place in Washington on Friday evening alone, including one thrown by Google and Netflix, attended by several actors from the hit political drama series House of Cards," says the British paper.
Comedian and Community star Joel McHale followed the president with a headline routine that drew laughs — some on the painful side. Among the groaners: "I promise tonight will be amusing and over quickly, just like Chris Christie's presidential bid," and "CNN is searching for something that's been missing for months: their dignity."
Plus, the Obamacare website's debut was so bad, he said, "I don't even have an analogy, because the website is now an analogy that people use to describe other bad things. 'Boy, that latest Johnny Depp movie really HealthCare.gov'd' at the box office.' "