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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
Washington Goes Hollywood, For Laughs; Obama's Best Jokes Over The Years; Did Obama's Jokes Lead To Rise Of Trump? Aired 8-9p ET
Aired April 30, 2016 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: I'm John Berman. We are expecting President Obama to enter the room at any minute. Elvis in the building, almost, we are told. All right, we've seen some of the biggest names in Hollywood, entertainment and beyond, mixing it up with political figures as well.
(Video playing). Look at the red carpet, the fabulous red carpet. The dinner is set to get underway in a few short moments. We don't have the menu. I'm curious what they're serving.
A little later we're going to take you inside. The president -- he gives the first speech -- the first comedic speech. Then, Larry Wilmore gets to take his stab at bringing down the house, as it were. He is the roast master of the night. A full night of festivities ahead and we will cover every moment.
Let's bring in our guests. Brad Jenkins, executive producer for "FUNNY OR DIE". Kate Anderson Brower -- her book, "The Residence," is about life inside the White House. Chapters on the writing of the president's speech at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. She just also published her book "First Women" about America's modern first ladies. Also with us CNN political commentators Marc Lamont Hill, Kayleigh McEnany, and Buck Sexton.
This, as we've been saying, is an historic night, Marc Lamont Hill. It is the president -- President Obama's final White House Correspondents' Dinner.
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes.
BERMAN: He is the nation's first black president. The last Correspondents' Dinner for the first black president. The roast master, Larry Wilmore himself, an African-American comedian. So one way or another, history will be made tonight.
HILL: Absolutely. I mean, a whole bunch of history is happening here and I think the content will also be historic. This will be the blackest bit you'll ever see. The blackest routine in standup history in terms of Correspondents' Dinners. I think it's going to be incredibly rich, incredibly fun.
And what I've watched over the years is they've brought in more technology, they've brought in more props, more people because it's hard to do this thing eight times in a row and do it well. And so, you're going to see even more stuff. I think it's going to be really exciting. I think Larry's going to do a great job and I think President Obama is going to really do an extraordinary job.
BERMAN: You're calling for special effects.
BERMAN: You're saying it's not just enough to have comedy, you need special effects as well.
HILL: You need special effects. I need CGI in the room. I need something extraordinary tonight.
BERMAN: Careful, holograms here at CNN, that's for sure. Brad, putting together this dinner -- you know, you've worked in the White House. I am curious about how much work really goes into it. I've heard hundreds of jokes are written from comedians but also from current and former staff. I heard that Dan Pfeiffer has been writing jokes, David Axelrod has been writing jokes. Jon Favreau is a first speech writer.
BRAD JENKINS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: John Lovett.
BERMAN: John Lovett's been writing jokes. So everyone's sending in information. I mean, how do you call it? How do you --
JENKINS: A lot of jokes come in and most get cut to the floor, which is great. But no, as Marc said, you've got to mix it up, right? Last year we had Luther the anger translator --
JENKINS: -- who dropped the mic with the president. I do expect that you have to move just beyond the set-up punchline. You've got to use video, you've got use some props. So, it's going to be fun. I am expecting some surprises. I don't want to let any cats out of the bag but I'm expecting some --
HILL: You know something.
BERMAN: And we asked because we talked to Josh Earnest. Jeff Zeleny interviewed Josh Earnest. One of the surprises, were told, will not happen is the first lady, Michelle Obama will not speak. Does she like comedy? I mean, does she like roasting? Does she like this type of event?
KATE ANDERSON BROWER, AUTHOR, "FIRST WOMEN": I mean, I think she and the president do have a great sense of humor but I think that she does take some of it personally. I know some of the personal things that have been said about the president -- for instance, the citizenship stuff from Donald Trump is something that she finds hard to forgive.
I mean, she's not really in the D.C. political scene, you know. She can't wait to leave the White House. And so, I don't think this is a night that she particularly looks forward to, no. BERMAN: But, the president does usually bring it when he speaks at this dinner. We have some clips of some of his finer moments. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) Apologies to the FOX table. Where are they? I have to confess I really did not want to be here tonight but I knew I had to come. It's just one more problem that I've inherited from George W. Bush.
Jonas Brothers are here. They're out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans but, boys, don't get any ideas. I have two words for you, predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I'm joking?
I've even let down my key core constituency movie stars. Just the other day Matt Damon -- I love Matt Damon, love the guy. Matt Damon said he was disappointed in my performance. Well, Matt, I just saw "The Adjustment Bureau" so right back at you buddy. (LAUGHTER)
[20:05:00] Four years ago I was a Washington outsider, four years later I'm at this dinner. Four years ago I looked like this. Today, I look like this, and four years from now I will look like this. (LAUGHTER)
(Music Playing) Thank you. Thank you, everyone. How do you like my new entrance music? Rush Limbaugh warned you about this. Second term, baby. We're changing things around here a little bit. (LAUGHTER)
Of course, we rolled out healthcare.gov. That could've gone better. (LAUGHTER) In 2008, my slogan was "Yes We Can". In 2013, my slogan was "Control Alt Delete". (LAUGHTER) And I'm feeling sorry, believe it or not, for the Speaker of the House as well. These days the House Republicans actually give John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black. (LAUGHTER)
I am determined to make the most of every moment I have left and after the mid-term elections my advisors asked me, "Mr. President, do you have a bucket list?" And I said well, I have something that rhymes with bucket list. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE) Take executive action on immigration, bucket. (LAUGHTER)
[20:07:38 to 20:11:21] (Audio frozen)
BUCK SEXTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: That's what I mean. That very gentle and they're probably not funny Hillary jokes.
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right.
SEXTON: But everybody else -- I mean, Bernie Sanders jokes are going to be hilarious, I would assume, and I can't even begin to say what's going to happen with -- BERMAN: And Kayleigh, listen -- we're waiting on the president right now, Kayleigh. We know he's coming for your guy. We know Donald Trump's going to be --
MCENANY: Go, Donald Trump. He's provided a lot of material, I will say. I think he's going to go after his Twitter feed. There's no doubt about it. I think, as Buck said, the GOP has a lot of material from Ted Cruz doing the silly little basketball thing last week to Donald Trump, and the many things that he --
HILL: To announcing a running mate. I mean, that's --
MCENANY: But hey, you what? Tonight will be --
HILL: -- rich.
MCENANY: True, when you're losing.
HILL: You have four delegates and you announce a running mate, there are going to be jokes.
MCENANY: Of course there are. Tonight is the night where everyone laughs at themselves. I suspect Donald Trump will watch this and he will laugh right alongside the president.
HILL: Oh, yes.
MCENANY: That's just what tonight's about.
BERMAN: Oh, yes.
MCENANY: To make jokes about yourself and others.
HILL: Will Kasich laugh at himself, though?
MCENANY: No, he won't.
[20:10:00] BERMAN: IED's stand by. No better tease than a John Kasich tease right there. We're waiting on the president's arrival. He's about to enter that room. We'll bring that to you the minute it happens.
(Audio playing) Meanwhile, we're looking at stars from "PARTY OF FIVE". That's Neve Campbell right there. Scott Wolf -- we're going to find out if he's there as soon as we can, and the guy who went on to be in "LOST", too. We're looking for him.
Is the White House Correspondents' Dinner -- is it attack (ph) in 2011 to blame for Donald Trump's presidential run now? We'll talk about that next?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOEL MCHALE, HOST, "THE SOUP": Good evening Mr. President, or as Paul Ryan refers to you, yet another inner-city minority relying on the federal government to feed and house your family. (LAUGHTER)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That's Joel McHale, right there, with President Obama at just one of the many big moments of White House Correspondents'' Dinners past. Welcome back to our special live coverage of this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Now, there are some who say that President Obama is responsible for the rise of Donald Trump and it might have happened at a White House Correspondents' Dinner, with his jokes, not his policies. Sara Murray reports. Sara Murray's with us live, I should say.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTERS: Well, John, this dinner gets its fair share of criticism -- there, yes -- there is it. All right, John. This dinner gets its fair share of criticism every year because Washington insiders are absolutely fawning to rub elbows with A-list celebrities, you know, like actual famous people, not like Washington famous people.
[20:15:00] But it may also be responsible for sparking a larger political movement, the candidacy of Donald Trump after he set out to be taken seriously after being laughed out of this room just a couple of years earlier.
MURRAY: Welcome to nerd prom, the one weekend a year when celebrities flock to D.C. for a weekend of parties with the Beltway elite. But this year one celebrity guest won't be making the trip, GOP front- runner Donald Trump.
As Trump recently explained to the Hill, "I was asked by every single group of media available to mankind, but I've decided not to go. Do you know why? I would have a good time and the press would say I look like I wasn't having a good time."
Trump was probably referring to that time he came as a guest of The Washington Post in 2011 and appeared unamused to find himself the butt of many jokes.
SETH MEYERS, COMEDIAN: Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke. (LAUGHTER)
MURRAY: President Obama, having just released his long-form birth certificate at the insistence of critics, including Trump, dug in even deeper.
OBAMA: No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald, and that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing? (LAUGHTER) MURRAY: Just days earlier, Trump boasted about the role he played in urging Obama to release the form.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You raised this, saying the president should release this.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have done a great service to the American people. I got him to release a birth certificate that he should've done three years ago.
MURRAY: The issue clearly got under Obama's skin.
OBAMA: We do not have time for this kind of silliness.
MURRAY: But by the time nerd prom rolled around Obama got the last laugh.
OBAMA: And, all kidding aside, obviously, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. (LAUGHTER) For example -- no, seriously. Just recently, in an episode of "CELEBRITY APPRENTICE" (LAUGHTER) at the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks and there was a lot of blame to go around.
But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership and so, ultimately, you didn't blame Lil' Jon or Meatloaf. (LAUGHTER) You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night. (LAUGHTER, APPLAUSE). Well handled, sir, well handled.
Say what you will about Mr. Trump. He certainly would bring some change to the White House. You see what we've got up there. (LAUGHTER)
MURRAY: Even though Trump insists he enjoyed the dinner it certainly didn't appear that way, says former senior White House advisor, David Axelrod.
DAVID AXELROD, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: There were a series of devastating jokes and everybody was looking at Trump, who seemed mildly irritated by them, and by the end kind of walked out of the thing and didn't hang around.
MURRAY: In just five short years how things have changed. Trump began doling out checks to GOP causes and landing speaking spots at conservative functions. Now, he's the GOP front-runner and it appears the joke is on Washington.
TRUMP: A lot of people have laughed at me over the years. Now they're not laughing so much, I'll tell you.
MURRAY: Now, even though Trump will not be here this year, you can bet he's going to be on the receiving end of some laughs. This year's comedian, Larry Wilmore, just said recently the whole Trump fiasco writes itself. Back to you, John.
BERMAN: All right, Sara, thanks so much. Yes, Larry Wilmore guaranteed me he'd joke about Trump and Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said these jokes are coming. Prepare yourself. Back with our panel right now to talk about the Trump factor and what to expect here, and what happened since 2011.
Kayleigh, do you buy the argument because there's been reporting out there that says it was that moment in 2011 that put the kernel in Donald Trump's head that he should run for president?
MCENANY: Maybe. Maybe that was the moment where he said hey, I think I can do this. But, you know, Donald Trump, I think, barreled onto the scene, wasn't politically correct throughout the political script, and that's why he's been successful. It could have been that moment that sparked it, but I think it had been his design for quite some time.
And I have to disagree that those jokes were devastating and Donald Trump wasn't enjoying them because he was clearly smiling. But, it's a lose-lose situation when they zoom in your side profile and have you as the brunt of a joke.
BERMAN: It's interesting because we showed the president there hitting Donald Trump, and they were tough but they weren't -- he did look like he was laughing a little bit there, Donald Trump.
BERMAN: And those seemed to be funny. It was the jokes that Seth Meyers told -- we showed one of them right there. They started to really dig in.
[20:20:00] LIZZ WINSTEAD, CO-CREATOR & FORMER WRITER, "THE DAILY SHOW": Seth Meyer's job is not to -- Seth Meyers doesn't have to wake up the next day and be D.C. or be anywhere. The comedian's job as opposed to the president's job is to find what he or she believes is the target and the hardest hit ever, you know.
It's like -- it's a really big difference between -- I think when comics do that they're not playing to that room of however many people are in there, 400. They're playing to the audience and the bigger people watching.
SEXTON: Because they expect a decorum from the commander in chief and I think they're the --
WINSTEAD: That's right.
SEXTON: I think the jokes that President Obama made were completely -- Kayleigh and I, as two Republicans, are sitting here laughing. I thought they were totally funny. I think the Seth Meyer jokes were a little more a comedian who's letting it rip, but that's also the expectation.
WINSTEAD: That's right. MCENANY: Right.
SEXTON: But, as President of the United States there are boundaries and I think those jokes stayed well within them. I'd also have to be honest with you. I don't buy that was when he decided to run for president. Who really knows, right? I mean, you have to get inside the man himself.
BERMAN: I'm with you. As someone who's been mocked plenty before, it's never been the cause of, you know, making --
SEXTON: I also think there's a very strong case he made, that Donald Trump wanted to sort of try it and had no idea because I don't think anyone could've had any idea that he would rocket to the front of the GOP race. Remember, it's not just like he's fought a bruising, long campaign. He's been number one stretching back how many months now?
MCENANY: Since the beginning.
SEXTON: It was lightning in a bottle.
SEXTON: So I don't even think he knew that that was going to happen, and so I think it would be tough to --
HILL: I think he did.
SEXTON: -- trace it all back.
HILL: You think he's going to be number one in the GOP race --
HILL: -- from the beginning?
SEXTON: Yes, yes. Hasn't Donald Trump always --
MCENANY: Did you look at the other people he was running against?
SEXTON: I think Donald Trump always assumes it.
HILL: What about the other times when -- anything about Donald Trump make you think he thought he'd be number two?
SEXTON: Oh, I guess you could say that or number one, but there's a part of the --
HILL: I think you should be the number one pick in the NFL draft that he introduced last night.
SEXTON: This is how he functions.
BERMAN: Let me ask Brad this. Do you think this White House -- do you think that President Obama ever thought that five years after he did that to Donald Trump in 2011 that Donald Trump would still be a figure in American politics, and not just a figure, but a major figure?
JENKINS: I don't think that the president, and I don't think that many people in the White House -- I mean, even as recently as eight months ago I think the president said Donald Trump will never be president. But I think that that's -- for large measure, the entire D.C. establishment didn't see this coming.
BERMAN: Which, by the way -- that's everyone in that room right now.
JENKINS: That's everyone in that room. So, I disagree with this notion that that's when he decided. Trump, if anything -- I disagree with his politics 100 percent, but he is a guy who can laugh at himself. He's a guy who, you know -- he'd go on Jimmy Fallon and do a caricature of himself.
MCENANY: Or, SNL.
JENKINS: Or, SNL. And so, he's an entertainer, as Marc said. He is an entertainer.
HILL: I think he's playing a part.
JENKINS: He's playing a party.
JENKINS: I think he, particularly early on, was playing to a very particular base who don't like President Obama. And I think part of his performance in that room was to not smile and joke and show any kind of comradery with the president.
HILL: I think it was purely a performance. I think Donald Trump actually does have very thick skin and absolutely likes to laugh at himself. I think it was performance.
(Video Playing) BERMAN: Speaking, speaking, speaking of likes to laugh at himself that's vice president Joe Biden right behind us right now. And you know -- and the president, by the way, likes to sprinkle his comedy routines with jokes about Joe Biden.
MCENANY: But Joe Biden's jokes are never intentional. That's the thing. He just is a humorous guy. He says things that happen to be funny, but I don't think he ever intends to be funny. It just comes off that way.
BERMAN: Well, it would be nice on the president's final correspondents' dinner if he gave Joe Biden a little podium time, microphone time, right?
HILL: Give him a couple of minutes.
WINSTEAD: I think Joe Biden's been really funny.
BERMAN: All right, hang on one second, guys. The president's being introduced right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome the President of the United States and First Lady Michelle Obama. (APPLAUSE)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, please stand for the presentation of colors.
BERMAN: All right, President Obama just walking in the room right there shaking hands with Larry Wilmore. Larry Wilmore told me last week he had never met the president. That this dinner -- this event will be the first time he met with President Obama. He was very excited about that.
All right, which past president had the best set at the White House Correspondents' Dinner? We'll look who had the biggest laughs. That's next.
[20:28:00] BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures right now inside the room. This will be where just a few minutes from now President Obama will speak to the White House Correspondents' Association, making fun of each and every one of them, and maybe people beyond that room.
Then we'll hear from Larry Wilmore, the host of the "THE NIGHTLY SHOW" on Comedy Central. He will get his turn to take on the president and everyone else in that room, as well.
Welcome back to CNN's live coverage of the White House Correspondents'' Dinner. This is a tradition that started almost 100 years ago. Here's a trivia question for you. Who was the first president to attend the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Tweet us and we'll tell you if you're right in a little bit.
Meanwhile, let's take a look back at some of the best moments from presidents past.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're both pleased to be here. This is also the night of the Kremlin Correspondents' Dinner in Moscow. That's when the members of the Soviet media gather to laugh at Gorbachev's jokes, or else. (LAUGHTER)
Although I've been around for a while, I can remember when a hot story broke and the reporters would run in yelling "stop the chisels." (LAUGHTER)
But you all have given me some problems at home. Nancy's taken to watching the press conferences and now every time I answer a question she says "I have a follow-up." (LAUGHTER) And what's all that talk about a breakdown of White House communications? How come nobody told me? (LAUGHTER)
[20:30:00] Well I know this. I've laid down the law though, to everyone there. From now on, about anything that happens. That no matter what time it is, wake me. Even if it's in the middle of a Cabinet meeting.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL CLINTON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Speaking of real life drama, I'm so glad that Senator McCain is back tonight. I welcome him, especially. As you all know, as you all know, he just made a difficult journey back to a place where he endured unspeakable abuse at the hands of his oppressors. The Senate Republican Caucus.
This is a special night for me, for a lot of reasons. Jay Leno is here. Now, no matter how mean he is to me, I just love this guy. Because together, together we give hope to gray-haired, chunky baby boomers everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEORGE W. BUSH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So I want to talk about some serious issues. Such as, OK, here it comes. Nuclear Proliferation. Nuclear Proliferation. Nuclear Proliferation. Nucear Proliberation. For eight years as Vice President, Dick has ridden shotgun. That's probably not the best analogy. But he is a dear friend, and he's been the greatest straight man in the history of the world. Dick, I don't know what I would've done for material without you.
And so the city slicker asked the old guy how to get to the nearest town, and the count --
LAURA BUSH, FORMER FIRST LADY: Not that old joke. Not again.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've been attending these dinners for years, and just quietly sitting there. Well I've got a few things I want to say for a change. One night, after George went to bed, Lynne Cheney, Condi Rice, Karen Hughes and I went to Chippendale's. I wouldn't even mention it, except Ruth Ginsburg, and Sandra Day O'Connor saw us there.
I won't tell you what happened. But Lynne's secret service codename is now "Dollar Bill."
BUSH: I love the band. And so I'm going to say my farewell to you by doing something I've always wanted to do.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: That's some good, good stuff. Listening for Presidents going back as far as Ronald Reagan, of course, the first President to attend The White House Correspondents' Dinner was Calvin Coolidge. We did not find the footage. We looked for hours and hours, you cannot find any of Cal's jokes right there. But we saw Reagan, we saw George W. Bush, we saw Bill Clinton there. Liz, it's really interesting to see these guys let their proverbial hair down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Rich Little hosted that one, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Calvin Coolidge one?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, really. A lot of people don't know that. Hunt (ph) back. We'll have to show you context (ph). You know it really is, I mean, as much as I disagree with George Bush, that moment when George Bush, and George Bush's aide were on stage ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, so great.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... It was one of the funniest things ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... like, ever. I laughed really hard at that particular moment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I've got to say, as corny as it is, it wasn't a joke to see the President conducting the band. But there's something sort of fun ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... about that, as well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It really is -- it humanizes them. Yes, we forget -- I mean, we see them all the time, the Presidential seal behind them. And we also forget so much of the speech tonight will be the President making fun of himself. And I agree with -- that "W" bit was so beautiful. That's why a lot of people loved "W." They may disagree with a lot of his policies, but he can always make fun of himself, which was endearing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well and he used it, too.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And he used it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... I mean, you know I covered him for a lot of years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... And he knew that expectations were so low at some times, all he had to do was come out and speak in complete sentences. This is what he would say to me, and people would think, you know, he was rising above the bar, or a genius right there.
It's interesting -- I don't want to, I want to take this down a notch, right here. The relationship between the press, and the President has changed over the years. If you look back in history, there are Presidents -- FDR used to joke with the press. I mean, he would have cocktails with the press. They would rub shoulders. Lyndon Johnson was friends with a lot of reporters, as well. That's just not the case right now. President Obama keeps the press
at arm's length. And by arm's length, that only counts if your arm is like, 150 miles long.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You know it's true, I mean, for my book I interviewed Bill Plant, who's been covering the White House for a long time, for CBS. And he said, usually requests, especially for Michelle Obama, are politely declined. It's very, very hard, they're very guarded. Especially the East Wing. And of course, my book is about the First Lady, so that was like, a very tricky subject to write about.
And you see it with what Laura Bush said, and I think it's great that you guys showed that clip. Because these women are so complex and so interesting. And we see this kind of just surface veneer of this very prim, proper woman. But she was funny. And Michelle Obama's funny. And these are like, complete picture women -- very intelligent, mothers, wives, but also wish they had careers.
Michelle Obama went to Princeton and Harvard, and I think we don't get to see enough of them. I don't think, as Americans, we want to necessarily see them in their full complexity. We don't want -- what Hillary Clinton did with the West Wing office. It's like, for First Ladies in particular, it's very touchy. That's why I think Michelle Obama probably won't say anything tonight. I mean, you -- it would be unusual for her to do that. But it's a hard White House to cover.
I mean, when I was a White House reporter, it was very -- as you know -- very tricky to get answers. And I think they can kind of go around the traditional media, in a way.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... They can use Twitter, Facebook, they don't have to work with the media in the way they used to.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, I think Michelle Obama's consistently funny, on Jimmy Fallon, ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... her whole like, "Get Healthy" campaign. I think she's done incredible things. So maybe she doesn't speak at this, but I think she has consistently been amazingly hilarious.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But that, that's not us. I mean, that's not, that's not the press. That's a different audience, those are different people asking the questions. I mean, you've worked in the White House, Frank (ph). I mean, what is -- I think, does this White House view the press as a necessary evil?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well look, absolutely. I mean, I think that you -- that's the blocking tackle when you're communicating the President's message. But I think this White House is just smarter about reaching the people where they are.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to be honest, it's nothing against journalists, nothing against the people in that room. But, you know CSPAN's ratings are going to go sky high today, and that's awesome. But Michelle Obama is reaching millions of people ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: M-hm.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... on Facebook, on Twitter, on Instagram, in a variety of different platforms. And you don't need that room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's very antiquated (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kids are not learning (ph) on T.V.s.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... They're looking at their hands, they're looking at YouTube, they're looking at a lot of different ways to get information.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... And so as you watch things happen, sadly everybody, there's a whole different way of getting information. And I think when we think of traditional media, I think that young folks go, "I don't really -- that's not my gig."
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's my mom's gig.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's kind of scary, I mean, the White House correspondence says (ph) each (ph) and all those reporters up on the -- guys (ph), their whole job is about access ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... and making sure more reporters and journalists get into the room with the President. And credentials are given out, and that's something they're very concerned about, especially with the President Trump, potentially. And it's important that the traditional media is given the same level of respect, I think.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's Gabrielle Union right there, I believe. One of the stars of the best cheerleading movies, ever made -- Bring It On. I think we can all ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bring It On, I saw that (inaudible) ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: ... I think we can all agree there. Joe Biden, who was lurking the room moments ago, has never been in a cheerleading movie. But we're -- just a sense of the different people in the room right now. All right, we'll let's ... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reince Priebus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Reince Priebus, right there.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So anyway (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Woah.
BERMAN: A lot of power, a lot of power there, Reince Priebus, Chairman of the Republican Party. Wolf Blitzer, Chairman of The World. All right guys. I think we're out. We got a lot more show to go tonight. It's not just T.V., as we've been saying. There's YouTube, there's Twitter. Zach Galifianakis, one of our guys here who knows a little bit about that. A look at how President Obama has had to bring the funny for a generation of people who look at their phones, instead.
BERMAN: Here we have live pictures right now inside the hall at White House Correspondent's Dinner. I hope you're enjoying the view. That's Joy Behar, I think Joy Behar's back right there. Whoopi Goldberg talking right there. I think that's Paula Faris, also, next to Joy Behar right now. My old friend from ABC News, who is now one of the hosts of The View. They are all there in force.
Just one side of what an epic event it is right now in Washington D.C. We are waiting to hear from President Obama, he will deliver his speech in just a few minutes. And then Larry Wilmore, the host of The Nightly Show, he will give his routine. I think the bar is very, very high. A lot of expectations for what will go on tonight.
Of course, President Obama, a lot of people think he's done a very, very funny job delivering his speeches over the years, at The White House Correspondents' Dinner. It's one way that he reaches a national audience. He has some new weapons at his disposal when it comes to ways to communicate to the American people. Let's look at some of the more off-beat, and different ways he's tried to get a message out.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZACH GALIFIANAKIS, ACTOR: Welcome to another edition of "Between Two Ferns." I'm your host, Zach Galifianakis. And my guest today is Barack Obama -- President Barack Obama.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good to be with you, Zach.
GALIFIANAKIS: First question, In 2013, you pardoned the turkey. What do you you have planned for 2014?
OBAMA: We'll probably pardon another turkey. We do that every Thanksgiving. Was that depressing to you, seeing that one turkey kind of taken out of circulation? A turkey you couldn't eat?
GALIFIANAKIS: So how does this work? Do you send Ambassador Rodman to North Korea in your behalf? I read somewhere that you'd be sending Hulk Hogan to Syria, or is that more of a job for Tonya Harding?
OBAMA: Zach, he's not our ambassador.
GALIFIANAKIS: What should we do about North Ikea? Could -- OK.
OBAMA: Why don't we move on.
GALIFIANAKIS: I have to know, what is it like to be the last black President?
OBAMA: Seriously? What's it like for this to be the last time you ever talk to a President?
GALIFIANAKIS: It must kind of stink though, that you can't run three times. You know?
OBAMA: Actually, I think it's a good idea. If I ran a third time, It'd be sort of like doing a third Hangover movie. Didn't really work out very well, did it?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERMAN: There's President Obama, "Between Two Ferns," right there. That was -- how it began, it ended with essentially a sales pitch for Obamacare. Rod, you were instrumental in making that all happen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I did, I would say Healthcare.gov not working for two months, was probably the most instrumental moment in getting that video made. That was a little bit of a "when in emergency, break glass," moment. But yes, I mean that was, that was the President and Zach Galifianakis at their finests. And the beautiful thing about that video was not just the record-breaking number of people who watched it, but the millions of young people that signed up for healthcare because of the video.
BERMAN: We're looking at Joe Biden right now. We have sort of a Biden-cam going on right now inside The White House Correspondents' Dinner. We will keep following him, see who he, see who he shakes hands with next. Because he seems determined to go to every table in that room. I don't know if this will be his last White House Correspondent's Dinner. I mean, he'll get invited back as many times as he wants to go, I imagine. Everyone on both sides of the aisle seems to like Joe Biden.
We were talking, Liz, about this issue of "Between Two Ferns," in general. The idea that the President now, has different ways to reach an audience. And one of those ways is often, now, comedy.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I mean the President -- everybody now can look to see where the target they need to reach is existing. And then message to that place. And so sometimes I think that it's -- as an old fart myself -- I'm like, I wish that there was people watching traditional. But if it's in your hand, if it's YouTube, if it's Twitter, if it's there, why not take that. When you look at your precious amount of time that you have to actually get the messaging out, I think they're going to take it where they can get it. And I think that anybody -- there's such a panoply (ph) of information, you can constantly talk to anybody and never be challenged. And I'm not sure I think that's great for democracy.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But I do think it's a fact of life. And how we're actually going to get our politicians to be challenged is really the $64,000 question, as we move on and technology becomes bigger and bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And Kayleigh, one of the questions you always hear is, is it presidential?
MCENANY: I mean, right. When Michelle Obama was on "Jimmy Fallon," and doing the mom dance, and all that stuff. And President Obama's doing "Between Two Ferns," it is -- I mean, presidents have always poked fun at themselves. I think this is taking it to a new level. But like you said, there's always an underlying reason for doing it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
MCENANY: In this case, it was healthcare. It was a way to get that message out. I do personally think there is a problem with kind of circumventing around the traditional media. They can always pick and choose who they want to give interviews to, you know?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MCENANY: They're usually choosing New York Times, and AP. And so, and sort of big, big outlets like that. Where they do reach a -- I think a bigger number, I don't know the statistics but I have to think more people read the New York Times -- maybe I'm wrong -- than --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well it depends on the ages that you're talking about, but no, yes.
MCENANY: No, the ages. Right, I'm thinking about --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As in the demographics. Yes.
MCENANY: Right, and if you're always trying for the young demographic --
BERMAN: Guys, stand by, we have -- we are pooling (ph) in on Joaquin Castro right there, on screen. I don't know ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Which one is which?
BERMAN: Which one is which. But between us, oh they're off now. But before looking at the twins right there, one is the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, the other a Congressman from the state of Texas right now. Watching who that is right now, but you're looking at live pictures of people eating. Because even journalists and Hollywood stars eat. This is The White House Correspondent's Dinner. More coverage in just a moment. It has been a rollercoaster relationship between this White House,
sometimes, and Hollywood. Sometimes it's the man of the year, sometimes it's Dr. Strangelove. How will the next President fare?
BERMAN: You're looking at live pictures from inside the hall of The White House Correspondents' Dinner. That is the NPR table, you're looking at Nina Totenberg's hair. The News is next.
We're here all night watching this coverage. This is the President's final White House Correspondent's Dinner. CNN's Sara Murray is down there, and she is joined by some of our most fabulous CNN colleagues. Sara?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Chad (ph) we have our very astute (ph) panel with us here, we have May Breslin (ph) of Sienna, and we have Margaret Hoover, Republican commentator, and also formerly of the Bush White House, and John Avlon, Editor in Chief of the Daily Beast.
All right. Let's talk a little bit about nerd prom --
JOHN AVALON, EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Nerd prom.
MURRAY: ... about Washington with Hollywood. May, I want to start with you. Because how does Hollywood even react to Donald Trump? He's a celebrity in and of himself.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. And that was such an interesting question, originally. It was, "would Donald Trump have any sort of cache out in Hollywood. Because of all of these entertainment connections, The Apprentice, and instead, if anyone is supporting Donald Trump in Hollywood, it is way, way undercover. We saw, over the last couple of days, obviously the state convention has been out in California. You saw the protests, pretty violent, in Orange County. And also people rushing him into the hall. So it's fascinating that he -- Mister Entertainer himself, is going to be heading straight into California. This incredibly critical primary that will field this yield (ph) for his campaign. And no one in Hollywood can stand up --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd still not fight half these wars under Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK, that's potentially a future White House Correspondents Dinner. Let's talk about the one we're living right now, John, this is President Obama's last -- what's going to be different this time around?
AVLON: One of the thing -- the significant things about this President is that he has taken the fourth quarter of his presidency, and he has taken it as a YOLO moment, right? He has gone all out. There is no lame duck approach to this presidency. So I think this President, who is arguably the first GenX President, has had a much more sarcastic, edgy approach to his humor.
And I imagine you'll see all that -- see that dialed up to 11. He's got nothing to lose, and a lot of rich political targets out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would just like you to know you're getting a pretty fierce side-eye from Margaret right now.
AVLON: That sometimes happens at home. So that's OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think -- look, I think that there is this perception that only Democrats know how to kind of roll with the jokes at The White House Correspondents' Dinner. And Obama has made this hip again. What do you think, I mean, can Republicans make the White House Correspondents' Dinner great again?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right? I know. Hashtag make everything great again. Look, I don't think you're totally ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America's already great?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: President Obama is not GenX. He is a baby boomer, technically --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he's the youngest GenX, but --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is the youngest GenX. And he -- while everybody, you know -- look, Conservatives and Republicans know Democrats are cooler, right? Celebrities like Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you acknowledging this on national television?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I'm not saying they're cooler, it's just that celebrity, Hollywood, pop culture all like Democrats better. We all know this to be true, OK? And Conservatives ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reagan --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... definitely accept this. Right? What we do is we accept it. But what's, but what's --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He has brought in so many young people ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Exactly.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... who are watching. And who are engaged, and want to see what's happening.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're watching Bernie Sanders that way, I mean ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK ...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... those -- or Millennials are really, really watching Bernie Sanders --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... let's just play, let's play a fun game. Let's say that Donald Trump does win in November, and that this is Donald Trump's White House Correspondents' Dinner next year. Do all the celebrities come? Or do none of them? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, headline; "D-listers for The Donald."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, no, now they I have a very ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is going to be D-list the first time through (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... I think I may have hit it on the head. I think I have a very hard time understanding -- look, it was never as glamorous as this in the Bush administration, either. I mean I worked in the Bush administration. While there were still celebrities that come, it's the office, people come because it's the White House Correspondents' Dinner. You have the Kardashian's come, Justin Bieber has come, you know a very, very sort of, Babe (ph), Babe (ph) what do you think? Are the Biebers, are the Kardashian's and the Biebers going to come out for The Donald, if he wins?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think they absolutely would come out for The Donald. It's the occasion, the event, the synergy of Washington and Hollywood. And the thing is, is that Donald Trump, more than anything else, has been seen as entertainment by a lot of people ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... and there is no way that all of these Hollywood folks are going to miss their moment to mix and mingle with everyone else at the dinner. Regardless of who's at the head table.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You do very much see a principled stand against Donald Trump, though. He -- like, especially amongst A-list celebrities, and ...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well but, the power has a way of turning people from their principles --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is, that's true. Power, power trumps all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The power trumps all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The power trumps all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, and so D-listers for The Donald. Even Richard Nixon had some celebrities show out at his dinner.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All right, all right, we're going to have to leave it there. All right, John, there you have it. The prediction for a potentially a Donald Trump dinner, next year. Who can say? Back to you.
BERMAN: All right, Sara Murray, thank you, and thank you to John Avlon's cowboy boots, as well. Our continuing coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner continues all night long. We're waiting to hear from the President. He will deliver his speech soon. Larry Wilmore of "The Nightly Show," as well. Stay with us.