Return to Transcripts main page


President Obama's Remarks at the White House Correspondents Dinner; Larry Wilmore at the White House Correspondents Dinner. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired April 30, 2016 - 22:00   ET



[22:00:02] JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: All Right. John Berman here all night long. We are covering the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Dinner in fact is over. Dessert has been served. The dishes cleared, the coffee gone. At this point, we are just waiting for the President to speak, also Larry Wilmore. We've been showing you video. We'll give you a little glimpse of that in just a minute.

Meanwhile, we're joined by our panel here to discuss what we can expect. Liz, you know, comedy is your business.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, yes, it is.

BERMAN: Comedy is your business. You know, running the country is the president's business.

LIZZ WINSTEAD, "THE DAILY SHOW": It's also my business. A lot of people don't know.

BERMAN: Hang on. Let's take a look. The White House Correspondents' Association put together some clips of some funnier moments over the last few years with President Obama. Let's watch.


MATT LAUER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Mr. President, you weren't so clear though on who was who.

BARACK OBAMA, UNITES STATES OF AMERICA PRESIDENT: We cannot sustain -- oops. Was that my ...

To pull our economy -- oh, goodness. Sorry about that, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And it hasn't all been smooth talk.

OBAMA: Let me be absolutely clear. Israel is a strong friend of Israel's. You're absolutely right that John McCain has not talked about my Muslim faith and you're absolutely right that is not some ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christian faith.

OBAMA: My Christian faith. On this Memorial Day as our nation honors its unbroken line of fallen heroes and I see many of them in the audience here today.

If you've got a business, you didn't build that.

When they first told us what R-S-P-E-C-T respect meant to hear?

I've now been in 57 states. I think one left to go.

Unless there is a hardship exemption as they've done in Massachusetts.

Eau Claire is a big important state.

Thank you, Sicily. Sioux Falls. I've been in Iowa too long. I'm sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every president has a verbal crutch. This one was obvious.

OBAMA: So let me be clear, that. Let me be very clear. I just want to be clear. I want to be absolutely clear. Let me be clear. Let me just be clear. So let me be as clear as I can be.

LAUER: Mr. President, you weren't so clear though on who was who.

OBAMA: Well, Tim, I think that -- well, Tim, first of all ...

LAUER: You're saying Tim. I know -- it's Matt Lauer. But I -- believe me, I completely understand.

OBAMA: Matt, I'm sorry.

Good morning, Matt.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then there was me.

OBAMA: Garrett, I've -- you know, I haven't looked at the latest polling around the world. I don't know, Garrett. I haven't -- but I think it's fair to say that, no, Garrett.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When even fashion choices are scrutinized including this one ...

JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Critics summed it up in two words, mom jeans, a sweet pair of mom jeans. Nice mom jeans, Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can never quite get a break but you will always have the audacity of taupe.

REP. PETER KING, (R) NEW YORK: He should be addressing the country on such a serious matter, and he looked like he was on his way to a party at the Hamptons ...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And scrutiny knows no borders. From the broadcasters among us, Mr. President, assume the microphone is always on.

OBAMA: The young lady seems like a perfectly nice person. She's getting her award.

What is he doing up there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why would he do that?

OBAMA: He's a jack ass.

This is my last election.


OBAMA: After my election I have more flexibility.

MEDVEDEV: Yeah, I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Presidents play games and you, Mr. President, have game, even when you don't. If you have a way of shaking it off.


BERMAN: All right. It was a video of President Obama doing many different things including dancing over the years to the president himself.

Let's go back at the live pictures from the hall. I believe we're about to hear from president Obama.

[22:05:00] Let's see it. Here he is.


OBAMA: Good evening everybody. It is an honor to be here at my last, and perhaps the last White House Correspondents' Dinner. You all look great. The end of the republic has never looked better.

I do apologize. I know I was a little late tonight. I was running on CPT, which stands for jokes that white people should not make. It's a tip for you, Jeff.

Anyway, here we are, my eighth and final appearance at this unique event. And I am excited. If this material works well, I'm going to use it at Goldman Sachs next year. Earn me some serious Tubmans. That's right. That's right.

My brilliant and beautiful wife Michelle is here tonight. She looks so happy to be here. It's called practice. It's like learning to do three-minute planks, and she makes it look easy now. But, next year at this time, someone else will be standing here in this very spot and it's anyone's guess who she will be. But standing here I can't help but be reflective, a little sentimental. You know, eight years ago I said it was time to change the tone of our politics. In hindsight, I clearly should have been more specific.

Eight years ago, I was a young man full of idealism and vigor. And look at me now, I am gray, grizzled, just counting down the days until my death panel.

Hillary once questioned whether I'd be ready for a 3:00 a.m. phone call. No, I'm awake anyway, because I've got to go to the bathroom. I'm up.

In fact, somebody recently said to me, "Mr. President, you are so yesterday. Justin Trudeau has completely replaced you. He is so handsome. He's so charming. He's the future." And I said, "Justin, just give it a rest." I resented that.

But meanwhile, Michelle has not aged a day. The only away you can date her in photos is by looking at me. Take a look. Here we are in 2008. Here we are a few years later. And this one is from two weeks ago. So time passes.

[22:10:01] In just six short months, I will be officially a lame duck, which means Congress now will flat out reject my authority, and Republican leaders won't take my phone calls. And this is going to take some getting used to. It's really going to be -- it's a curveball. I don't know what to do with it. Of course, in fact, four months now congressional Republicans have been saying their things I cannot do in my final year. Unfortunately, this dinner was not one of them.

But on everything else, it's another story. And you know who you are, Republicans. In fact, I think we've got Republican senators Tim Scott and Cory Gardner. They're in the house, which reminds me, security, bar the doors. Judge Merrick Garland come on out. We're going to do this right here, right now.

It's like the Red Wedding.

But it's not just Congress. Even some foreign leader, they've been looking ahead, anticipating my departure. Last week, Prince George showed up to our meeting in his bathrobe. That was a slap in the face. A clear breach of protocol.

Although, while in England I did have lunch with her Majesty the Queen, took in a performance of Shakespeare, hit the links with David Cameron. Just in case anybody is still debating whether I'm black enough, I think that settles the debate.

I won't lie. Look, this is a tough transition. It's hard. Key staff are now starting to leave the White House. Even reporters have left me. Savannah Guthrie, she has left the White House press cops to host the "Today" show. Nora O'Donnell left the briefing room to hospital "CBS This Morning". Jake Tapper left journalism to join CNN.

But the prospect of leaving the White House is a mixed bag. You might have heard that someone jumped the White House fence last week, but I have to give Secret Service credit. They found Michelle, brought her back. She's safe back at home now. It's only nine more months, baby. Settle down.

And yet somehow, despite all this, despite the churn, in my final year my approval ratings keep going up. The last time I was this high I was trying to decide on my major.

And here's the thing, I haven't really done anything differently. So it's odd. Even my age can't explain the rising poll numbers. What has changed? Nobody can figure it out. Puzzling.

Anyway, in this last year, I do have more appreciation for those who have been with me on this amazing ride. Like one of our finest public servants, Joe Biden. God bless him. I love that guy.

[22:15:02] I love Joe Biden. I really do. And I want to thank him for his friendship, for his counsel, for always giving it to me straight, for not shooting anybody in the face. Thank you, Joe.

Also, I would be remiss. Let's give it up for our host, Larry Wilmore. Also known as one of the two black guys who's not Jon Stewart. You're the South African guy, right? I love him. I love Larry. And his parents are here, who are from Evanston, which is a great town. I also would like to acknowledge some of the award winning reporters that we have with us here tonight. Rachel McAdams, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber. That you all for everything that you've done. I'm just joking. As you know, "Spotlight" is a film, a movie about investigative journalists with the resources and the autonomy to chase down the truth and hold the powerful accountable. Best fantasy film since "Star Wars".

Look, that was maybe a cheap shot. I understand the news business is tough these days. It keeps changing all the time. Every year at this dinner somebody makes a joke about Buzzfeed, for example, changing the media landscape. And every year "The Washington Post" laughs a little bit less hard. It's kind of a silence there. Especially at "The Washington Post" table.

GOP Chairman Reince Priebus is here as well. Glad to see that you feel that you've earned a night off. Congratulations on all of your success, the Republican Party, the nomination process. It's all going great. Keep it up.

Kendall Jenner is also here. And we had a chance to meet her backstage. She seems like a very nice young woman. I'm not exactly sure what she does, but I am told that my Twitter mentions are about to go through the roof.

Helen Mirren is here tonight. I don't even have a joke here, I just think Helen Mirren is awesome. She's awesome.

Sitting at the same table I see Mike Bloomberg. Mike, a combative, controversial New York billionaire is leading the GOP primary and it is not you. That has to sting a little bit. Although it's not an entirely fair comparison between you and the Donald. After all, Mike was a big city mayor. He knows policy in-depth. And he's actually worth the amount of money that he says he is.

What an election season. For example, we've got the bright new face of the Democratic Party here tonight, Mr. Bernie Sanders. There he is. Bernie, you look like a million bucks. Or, to put in terms you'll understand, you look like 37,000 donations of $27 each.

[22:20:16] A lot of folks have been surprised by the Bernie phenomenon, especially his appeal to young people. But not me. I get it. Just recently a young person came up to me and said she was sick of politicians standing in the way of her dreams. As if we were actually going to let Malia go to Burning Man this year. Was not going to happen. Bernie might have let her go. Not us.

I am hurt though, Bernie, that you've been distancing yourself a little from me. I mean, that's just not something that you do to your comrade.

Bernie's slogan has helped his campaign catch fire among young people. "Feel the Bern." "Feel the Bern." That's a good slogan. Hillary's slogan has not had the same effect. Let's see this.

Look, I've said how much I admire Hillary's toughness, her smarts, her policy chops, her experience. You've got to admit it though, Hillary trying to appeal to young voters is a little bit like your relative who just signed up for Facebook. "Dear America, did you get my poke? Is it appearing on your wall? I'm not sure I'm using this right. Love, Aunt Hillary." It's not entirely persuasive.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, things are a little more, how shall we say this, a little more loose. Just look at the confusion over the invitations to tonight's dinner. Guests were asked to check whether they wanted steak or fish. But instead, a whole bunch of you wrote in Paul Ryan. That's not an option, people. Steak or fish. You may not like steak or fish, but that's your choice.

Meanwhile, some candidates aren't polling high enough to qualify for their own joke tonight. The rules were well established ahead of time.

And then there's Ted Cruz. Ted had a tough week. He went to end Indiana, Hoosier country. Stood on a basketball court and called the hoop a basketball ring. What else is in his lexicon? Baseball sticks. Football hats. But sure, I'm the foreign one.

Well, let me conclude tonight on a more serious note. I want to thank the Washington press corps. I want to thank Carol for all that you do. You know, the free press is central to our democracy and, nah, I'm just kidding. You know I've got to talk about Trump. Come on.

[22:25:03] We weren't just going to stop there. Come on.

Although I am a little hurt that he's not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time. And it is surprising. You've got a room full of reporters, celebrities, cameras, and he says no. Is this dinner too tacky for the Donald? What could he possibly be doing instead? Is he at home eating a Trump steak, tweeting out insults to Angela Merkel? What's he doing?

The Republican establishment is incredulous that he is their most likely nominee. Incredulous. Shocking. They say Donald lacks the foreign policy experience to be president. But in fairness, he has spent years meeting with leaders from around the world, Ms. Sweden, Ms. Argentina, Ms. Azerbaijan.

And there's one area where Donald's experience could be invaluable and that's closing Guantanamo because Trump knows a thing or two about running waterfront properties into the ground. All right, that's probably enough. I mean, I've got more material. No, no, no.

I don't want to spend too much time on The Donald. Following your lead, I want to show some restraint, because I think we can all agree that from the start he's gotten the appropriate amount of coverage befitting the seriousness of his candidacy. I hope you all are proud of yourselves. The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost and now we're praying that Cleveland makes it through July. Hmm.

As for me, and Michelle, we've decided to stay in D.C. for a couple more years. Thank you. This way our youngest daughter can finish up high school. Michelle can stay closer to her plot of carrots. She's already making plans to see them every day. Take a look.

But our decision has actually presented a bit of a dilemma because traditionally presidents don't stick around after they're done. And it's something that I've been brooding about a little bit. Take a look.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Obamas are staying in D.C. for two years after the president leaves office.

CHUCK TODD, "MEET THE PRESS" HOST: He's about to go from commander in chief to couch commander.

OBAMA: [Beep] you, Chuck Todd. What am I going to do in D.C. for two years?

JOE BIDEN, UNTED STATES OF AMERICA VICE PRESIDENT: You've got a real dilemma, Mr. President.

OBAMA: I can't golf every day, can I?

BIDEN: Which do you like better? These, or these?

OBAMA: Joe, they're the same.

BIDEN: They capture different moods.

OBAMA: Joe, I need some focus here. I'm sorry, what's that?

BIDEN: I said, Mr. President, you have to be practical. And look, you can drive again. You're going to need a license. You love sports. Why don't you volunteer to work for one of the teams around here? OBAMA: Is this the Washington Wizards? I understand you're looking for some coaching help. Let's just say I coach my daughter's team a few times. Hello. Hello.


OBAMA: Finally. So I'm going to be in D.C. for a while, and I thought I'd take up driving again.


OBAMA: Barack Hussein Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks. Yikes. Well, since you don't have a driver's license, you're going to need a birth certificate.

OBAMA: Really?


OBAMA: It's real.


OBAMA: It's real.


OBAMA: Oh, Michelle left her phone.

[22:30:00] Let's see here. She's got Snapchat. Obamacare is great and it's really working. Sign up now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Michelle Obama in hot water after posting this video earlier today.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obamacare is great and it's really working. Sign up now.




B. OBAMA: Did you get a lot of views at least?

M. OBAMA: Honey, enough, enough. Why don't you just talk to somebody who has been through this? I got to go to soul cycle.

B. OBAMA: She's right. I know who I need to talk to. Hey, it's Barack. Listen, can we get together? Now, that is a great move.

JOHN BOEHNER, (R-OH) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yeah. B. OBAMA: So, got any advice for me?

BOEHNER: So now you want my advice?

First, Snap sending me all of these lengthy requests. And second, here's the beauty of this whole thing. You've got all the time in the world to figure this out. You can just be you for a while. If you know how to do that again.

B. OBAMA: So I can just be me. And I can wear my mom jeans in peace. I hate these tight jeans.

BOEHNER: That's good.

Yesterday, I had a beer at 11:30 in the morning. And you know, McDonald's now serves breakfast all day long.

B. OBAMA: You know, Michelle is going to be in spin class, so she'll never know, right?

BOEHNER: Let it go. And it won't be long, you'll be able to walk right out of the oval office singing " Zip-a-dee-doo-dah, zip-a-dee- ay." And you'll have plenty of time to work on your tan. And you know what? I finally got the grand bargain on a sweet Chevy Tahoe.

Look here. Look here. Yeah, you want on?


BLITZER: On his 347th round of golf for the year and it's totally great. And, Gloria, not a problem for anybody.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: I can't think of a reason to care, Wolf. Believe me, I've tried.


B. OBAMA: There you go. I am still waiting for all of you to respond to my invitation to connect to LinkedIn. But I know you have jobs to do, which is what really brings us here tonight.

I know that there are times that we've had differences and that's inherent in our institutional roles. That is true of every president and his press corps. But we've always shared the same goal to root our public discourse in the truth, to open the doors of this democracy, to do whatever we can to make our country and our world more free and more just. And I've always appreciated the role that you have all played as equal partners in reaching these goals.

Our free press is why we, once again, recognize the real journalists who uncover the horrifying scandal and brought some measure of justice for thousands of victims throughout the world. They are here with us tonight: Sacha Pfeiffer, Mike Rezendes, Walter Robinson, Matt Caroll and Ben Bradlee Jr. Please give them a big round of applause.

A free press is why, once again, we honor Jason Rezaian, as Carol noted. Last time this year we spoke of Jason's courage as he endured the isolation of an Iranian prison. This year we see that courage in the flesh, and it's a living testament to the very idea of a free press, and a reminder of the rising level of danger and political intimidation and the physical threats faced by reporters overseas.

And I can make this commitment that as long as I hold this office my administration will continue to fight for the release of American journalists held against their will. And we will not stop until we -- they see the same freedom as Jason had.

[22:34:54] At home and abroad journalists, like all of you, engage in the dogged pursuit of informing citizens and holding leaders accountable, and making our government of the people possible. And it's an enormous responsibility. And I realize it's an enormous challenge at a time when the economics of the business sometimes incentivizes speed over depth, and when controversy and conflict are what most immediately attract readers and viewers.

The good news is there are so many of you that are pushing against those trends and as a citizen of this great democracy, I am grateful for that.

For this is also a time around the world when some of the fundamental ideals of liberal democracies are under attack and when notions of objectively and of a free press, and of facts, and of evidence are trying to be undermined or in some cases ignored entirely. And in such a climate, it's not enough just to give people a megaphone. And that's why your power and your responsibility to dig and to question and to counter distortions and untruths is more important than even ever.

Taking a stand on behalf of what is true does not require you shedding your objectivity. In fact, it is the essence of good journalism. It affirms the idea that the only way we can build consensus, the only way that we can move forward as a country, the only way we can help the world mend itself is by agreeing on a baseline of facts when it comes to the challenges that confront us all.

So this night is a testament to all of you who have devoted your lives to that idea, who push to shine a light on the truth every single day. So, I want to close my final White House correspondents' dinner by just saying thank you.

I'm very proud of what you've done. It has been an honor and a privilege to work side by side with you to strengthen our democracy. With that I just have two more words to say, "Obama out."


BLITZER: All right. President Obama delivering his final address at his final White House correspondents' dinner. In some ways, it was like, you know, the end of the "The Godfather" movie, right, settling all the score, knocking off the heads of all the five families. He hit everyone in this speech.

Starting with Hillary Clinton right out of the gate, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, the media, CNN, went after each and every source he could. And came out strong, you know, Liz, your immediate take? We're about to hear from Larry. One more - few words of your review.

WINSTEAD: I thought he was at 110 coming out of the box and then I just didn't -- I wasn't particularly -- I wouldn't put it up in his top.

BLITZER: All right. We're now going to hear from Larry Wilmore, the host of "The Nightly Show," his job and never an easy one, following the president of the United States.

LARRY WILMORE, HOST OF THE NIGHTLY SHOW: Thank you, thank you very much. Thank you, thanks for keeping that applause going all the way, too, I appreciate that.

Well, welcome to "Negro Night" here at the Washington Hilton, or as Fox News will report, "Two thugs disrupt elegant dinner in D.C." That's how they do us, right?

Nice to be here, though, at the White House correspondents' dinner, or as you know they're gonna call it next year, "Donald Trump presents a luxurious evening paid for by Mexico." I'm very scared of that.

But thank you so much. It's an absolute honor to be here tonight. I want to thank the president, the first lady, Carol Lee, and the White House Correspondents' Association for hiring me, and Mitch McConnell for not blocking my nomination.

Seriously, you gotta give Mitch McConnell credit. At this point, he could block LeBron James. He's unbelievable.

But to say a little bit about me, so, I am a black man who replaced a white man who pretended to be a TV newscaster. So, yeah, in that way Lester Holt and I have a lot in common. I know it's not too soon.

And I have to admit it's not easy to follow the president, man. You got some jokes. Mr. President. The president's funny. Stay in your lane, man. You don't seem me going around president-ing all the time, right?

[22:40:01] I'll go around passing health care, and signing executive orders, pardoning turkeys, not closing Guantanamo. Oh wait, maybe I did do that.

But I have to say, it's great, it looks like you're really enjoying your last year of the presidency. Saw you hanging out with NBA players like Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors. That was cool. That was cool, yeah. You know, it kinda makes sense, too, because both of you like raining down bombs on people from long distances, right? What? Am I wrong? What?

Speaking of drones, how is Wolf Blitzer still on television? Ask a follow-up question. Hey, Wolf, I'm ready to project tonight's winner, anyone that isn't watching "The Situation Room."

All right, fine, I like Wolf, but --

Vice President Joe Biden is here, nice to see you, vice president. That's great. I heard Joe's retiring, moving back to Delaware, which is good. He won't have to answer any more difficult questions like, "Hey, don't I know you from somewhere?"

But I have to say, about the first lady, it's so nice to have dinner with you. She is the epitome of grace, class and poise, isn't she? She really is. Not to be confused with future first gentleman Bill Clinton, whose three favorite strippers are named Grace, Class and Poise. Don't make that mistake. Don't make that mistake.

It's the late show, Mr. President, I can do these jokes.

And let me just say, Mr. President, the office has taken its toll on you. You look terrible, Mr. President. No, you do man. I mean look at you, your hair is so white, it tried to punch me at a Trump rally.

President's hair is so white it keeps saying "All lives matter." All right, fine. Fine, I get it. I get it.

No, but man, you came in here looking like Denzel. Now, you're going out looking like Grady from "Sanford and Son." I know it's a dated reference but you're dated, Mr. President.

All I'm saying is that in less than eight years, Mr. President, you've busted two time-honored stereotypes. Black does crack, and apparently once you go black, it looks like we are going back. Thanks, Ben Carson.

I gotta be careful picking on you, though, Mr. President. You know, couple years ago during this dinner, you were like killing Osama bin Laden. Remember that?

Who you killing tonight? Can't be print journalism; that industry's been dead for awhile now, right? Sorry. I'm just kidding. Shout out to the print media. No, really, you have to shout, they're like all over 70 now. The followup was nice, wasn't it? Yeah.

Oh, by the way, you guys, Black Lives Matter is here tonight. I'm just kidding. Relax, white people, they're not here. It's just a joke. Just relax, just relax.

But I'm impressed with the people in this room. There are so many rich, powerful people in this room. You know, it's nice to finally match the names to the faces in the Panama Papers. It's very nice.

Will Smith is here from the upcoming movie "Suicide Squad." Yeah. By the way, not to be confused with the new Jeb Bush documentary, "Suicide Watch."

Groans are good. Groans are good.

Anthony Anderson is here from the hit show "Black-ish", "Black-ish", yeah, which was also my nickname in high school, unfortunately. That's what they called you in Kenya, too, didn't they, Mr. President? C-SPAN, of course, is carrying tonight's dinner live, which is ironic because most of their viewers aren't. It's true, guys. C-SPAN is the number one network among people who died watching TV and no one's found them yet.

No, but it is good to be on C-SPAN. Glad I'm not on your rival network, "No input, HDMI1." That was for me, that was for me.

[22:45:05] CNN is here tonight. I've been watching CNN a long time. Yep, used to watch it back when it was a news network, I did. What, is it all CNN here tonight?

I don't know about you guys, but I can't get enough of that CNN countdown clock. Now we can see exactly when they hit zero in the ratings.

And not to throw any shade, but Fox News is the highest-rated cable news channel among viewers who have no idea what "shade" means.