A History of President Trump Being Trolled at the White House Correspondents' Dinner

Apr 27, 2017

While President Trump is not attending this year's White House Correspondents' Dinner, he has a history of being the butt of jokes at the annual event where journalists, politicians and celebrities typically gather together for a night of levity.

The most scathing burn Trump received at the dinner came in 2011, when he attended as a guest of the Washington Post. At the time, Trump was in his heyday of promoting the "birther" conspiracy theory about President Barack Obama and hinting at a possible run for office the following year.

Taking advantage of his attendance at the dinner, Obama dug in to Trump to poke fun at the real estate mogul's business dealings and doubts about the president's place of birth. Here is what he said at the time.

Donald Trump is here tonight. Now I know that he’s taken some flak lately. But no one is happier—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? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac? All kidding aside, obviously we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. For example … no seriously, just recently, in an episode of Celebrity Apprentice, 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 Meat Loaf, you fired Gary Busey. And these are the kinds of decisions that would keep me up at night. Well handled, sir. Well handled. Say what you will about Mr. Trump, he certainly would bring some change to the White House. Let’s see what we’ve got up there.

The skewering of Trump did not end with Obama — Seth Meyers, host of the dinner that year, took aim at the Trump for several minutes, complete with an imitation of the future president.

"Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican—which is surprising, since I just assumed that he was running as a joke," Meyers said, amid several punchlines at Trump's expense.

The scathing remarks did not sit well with Trump, who was filmed looking angry, with his lips pursed and eyes staring ahead. Media and political pundits have since said that the White House Correspondents' Dinner roasting was what spurred his run for the presidency in 2016.

Trump has denied the dinner had any influence on his 2016 campaign, telling the Washington Post, "There are many reasons I'm running. But that's not one of them."

Obama again addressed Trump at the 2015 dinner, although he cut right to the chase: "And Donald Trump is still here," he said. "Still."

As Trump campaign for the presidency gained steam in 2016, Obama again fired off jokes at the dinner that year, both at the expense of Trump and the press.

"I hope you all are proud of yourselves," he said, addressing the media. "The guy wanted to give his hotel business a boost, and now we're praying that Cleveland makes it through July."

This year, Trump has declined to attend the dinner and announced instead that he will hold a rally in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to mark the first 100 days of his presidency. Trump's break with precedent — since its founding in 1921 the WHCD has hosted every president at least once — came after his several criticisms of the press as "fake news" and accusations that some news outlets are "enemies of the people."

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