US President Joe Biden laughs off age jokes at White House dinner

Screen grab of Biden at Whitehouse Correspondent's Association Dinner.

United States President Joe Biden exhibited good humour as he faced a series of playful jabs about his age at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Biden laughed off the jokes, even managing to deliver some jokes of his own. Prominent figures from Washington’s political and media scene convened in the US capital for the much-awaited annual event which featured light-hearted comedy as well as serious calls for the release of journalists held captive abroad.

The evening’s comedic entertainment was provided by Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent on “The Daily Show,” who took the opportunity to poke fun at 80 year old Biden’s plans to run for a second term in office. Wood contrasted American attitudes towards seniors working with recent protests in France against proposals to increase the retirement age.

“Meanwhile, in America, we have an 80 year old man begging us for four more years of work,” Wood noted, prompting a wide grin from the US President seated nearby. “Say what you want about our president, but when he wakes up from that nap, work gets done,” he added.

Not to be outdone, Biden directed one of his witty remarks at Rupert Murdoch, the 92 year old billionaire who owns the conservative-leaning Fox News network. He said…

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“You might think I don’t like Rupert Murdoch. That’s simply not true. How can I dislike a guy who makes me look like (29 year old pop star) Harry Styles?”

He also referred to former CNN presenter Don Lemon, who was let go amid allegations of making sexist and ageist comments on air.

“Call me old — I call it being seasoned. You say I am ancient — I say I’m wise. You say I’m over the hill — Don Lemon would say that’s a man in his prime.”

The prestigious dinner had entered a period of decline, with first Donald Trump boycotting the event and then the function being cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The 2022 edition of the dinner, however, was sold out with 2,600 guests in attendance as well as Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. This marked a return to the previous custom last observed in 2016, before Trump’s tenure in the White House. Biden added

“Folks, it is wonderful to be back here again, proving I haven’t learned a damn thing.”

The event aims to promote the constitution’s First Amendment, which guarantees freedom of speech, as well as advocate for a free press across the globe. During the evening, the President met with the family of Evan Gershkovich, a Wall Street Journal journalist who was arrested in Russia last month on charges of espionage, AFP reported.

As the first foreign reporter to be detained on such allegations since the Soviet Union’s collapse, Gershkovich’s case has prompted a significant media campaign urging his release. American officials vehemently deny the charges. Biden said…

“We are working every day to secure his release. We’re looking at opportunities and tools to bring him home. We keep the faith.”

This week, Moscow responded to Washington’s refusal to issue visas to several Russian journalists by denying a consular visit for Gershkovich. The incident occurs amidst tense bilateral relations between the two nations, with relations remaining strained over a year since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The dinner also saw several high-profile guests in attendance, including basketball player Brittney Griner, who was freed by Russia as part of a prisoner exchange last year and has since vowed to campaign for other detainees.

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With a Bachelor's Degree in English, Jenn has plenty of experience writing and editing on different topics. After spending many years teaching English in Thailand, Jenn has come to love writing about Thai culture and the experience of being an ex-pat in Thailand. During long holidays, she travels to North of Thailand just to have Khao Soi!

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