Over 2,600 visitors to one of the most important social events of the year: among the international guests, the president of LaPresse, Marco Maria Durante
There were the usual jokes, laughter, mutual teasing, but this year the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was not only a comedy show, entrusted for the occasion to comedian Roy Wood Jr, but also the occasion to celebrate the importance of freedom of the press in democratic societies and to ask for the release of journalists and US citizens illegally detained in other countries.
Over 2,600 guests gathered on Saturday evening in the great hall of the Hilton in Washington for what is one of the most important social events of the year: top US and international media leaders, US journalism stars, leading foreign correspondents, celebrities such as John Legend and wife Chrissy Teigen, along with President Joe Biden, first lady Jill and top administration officials.
Among the international guests, also the president of LaPresse, Marco Maria Durante, accompanied by his wife Thea Aprea. Joe Biden’s appeal “I want to start with something serious – said Biden taking the floor – the members of our administration are here to send a message to the country and to the world.
The free press is a pillar, perhaps the pillar of a free society, not the enemy.” The president has called for the release of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter, imprisoned last month in Russia on espionage charges, which the US administration believes is simply an excuse to detain a US citizen. “We work every day to get him released,” Biden said. “Our message is this: journalism is not a crime,” the president said to applause.
Gershkovich’s family was among the guests at the gala, as was Debra Tice, mother of Austin Tice, who disappeared at a checkpoint in Syria in 2012, believed to be still alive by US authorities. Before the evening began, Biden also met briefly with Brittney Griner, the WNBA star basketball player and Olympic champion, detained for 10 months in Russia, before a prisoner exchange with Moscow.
There are “hundreds of journalists around the world who are illegally detained for the simple fact of doing journalism, which is not a crime”, were also the words of Tamara Keith, journalist of NPR and president of the Association of Correspondents of the White House. The jokes of the president After the reference to the reality of the news, it was the turn of the jokes. Biden joked that he was offered $10 to keep his speech under 10 minutes. “It’s a breakthrough, a president who is being offered backhand money,” he said amid laughs, in a clear reference to the story of the backroom money that former President Donald Trump allegedly paid to porn actress Stormy Daniels.
Then, a reference to advanced age, one of the most critical issues in his new campaign for the White House. I like the First Amendment, “because my friend Jimmy Madison wrote it,” Biden joked. The president then left the stage to comedian Roy Wood Jr, who did not spare him the joke: “Mr. President, I believe you have left some of your confidential documents here”, in reference to top secret papers found in an office and residence private of Biden, after those found at Donald Trump’s house in Mar-a-Lago.
After joking about the Dominion voting machines and the nearly $800 million defamation lawsuit that Fox News lost, resulting in the ouster of star Tucker Carlson, and the firing of fellow CNN star Don Lemon, Wood his jokes against the former president, defined as “the king of scandals”. “Keeping up with the Trump scandals is like watching Star Wars movies. You have to watch the third to understand the first, then you can’t miss the second because there are surprises for the fifth…”, joked the comedian.
This year’s gala is the second attended by Biden, after last year’s and after suspension in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Biden was also the first president in six years to accept the invitation, after the event had been boycotted during Donald Trump’s entire four years in the White House.
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