Washington, May 1 (EFE).- President Joe Biden warned Saturday that there was “poison running through our democracy” as he roasted himself, his predecessor Donald Trump, and the media at the annual White House press corps gala.
Biden was speaking at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner that was canceled in the last two years due to the pandemic and returned this year with Biden as the first president in six years to attend the gala.
Trump refused to attend the event in the years he was in office.
“We are in a time when what we so long taken for granted is facing the gravest of threats. and I am being deadly earnest. Overseas, the liberal world order that laid the foundation for global peace, stability, and prosperity since World War II is genuinely, seriously under assault,” the president said.
“At home, a poison is running through our democracy … all this taking place with disinformation massively on the rise,” he said.
“The truth is buried by lies, and the lies live on as truth. What is clear, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that you, a free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century.”
The serious talk came in between jokes he cracked at the event, a tradition that dates back to 1924 and in which presidents often give a humorous speech and recognize the work of the journalists who cover them.
“I am really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” Biden said, noting that it was understandable that he was the first president to attend the event since then-President Barack Obama in 2016.
“This is the first time a president has attended this dinner in six years. It’s understandable, we had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid,” he said, referring to Trump’s four years at the White House.
“Just imagine if my predecessor came to this dinner this year. Now that would really have been a real coup.”
Biden paid tributes to the journalists who died covering the war in Ukraine and acknowledged that the work of the press was hard because “the industry is changing” and there was “intense pressure to shake things up instead of shedding light.”
“But the truth matters. American democracy is not a reality show,” the president said.
Biden turned his attention to Republicans, underscoring amid frequent chuckles the leaked tapes in which House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy says he intended to tell then-President Trump to step down following the Jan.6 Capitol attack.
“Folks, I am not really here to roast the GOP. That is not my style. Besides, there is nothing I can say about the GOP that Kevin McCarthy has not already put on tape,” Biden said.
He turned to comedian Trevor Noah, who attended the event as a special guest to do a monologue.
“Now you can laugh at the president, and unlike what would happen in Moscow, he will not go to jail.”
Noah, host of “The Daily Show,” joked about Biden’s Poland visit last month when he caused a stir by saying that his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, should not stay in power.
“As you all know, President Biden’s lack of a filter does get him into hot water sometimes, you know, last month he caused a huge international incidents saying that Vladimir Putin should be removed from power was very, very upsetting to Russia,” Noah said.
“So someone explained to them that none of the stuff Biden wants actually gets done.”
The dinner brought together a crowd of 2,600 people in a hotel ballroom despite the increase in Covid-19 infections in Washington.