Trevor Noah at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner 2022 | Transcript

Trevor Noah headlined the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner on April 30 after a two-year pause due to the pandemic.
Trevor Noah's at the White House correspondents’ dinner

Great. I got a promise I will not be going to jail. I’ll switch things up now. Let’s see how we do this. How’s everybody doing tonight? You guys good? Everyone good? [cheers and applause] First of all, thank you so much, Steve. Good evening, Mr President, First Lady, members of the media, and all the men relieved that Ronan Farrow isn’t here tonight. It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished super-spreader event. No, for real, people, what are we doing here? Let’s be honest. What are we doing? Like, did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Nothing, huh? Like, do you read any of your own newspapers? I mean, I expect this from Sean Hannity. But the rest of you? What are you doing here? You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large, indoor gatherings. Then the second someone offers you a free dinner, you all turn into Joe Rogan, huh?

I mean, Dr Fauci dropped out. That should have been a pretty big sign. Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it’s okay. And we all went with Pete. Okay. Alright, then.

Now, for those who don’t know me, my name is Trevor Noah, and I’m really honored to be here, honestly. You know, because you could have picked any comedian. You could have invited anyone, but you went with the South African variant, very on theme. I appreciate that.

And COVID risk aside, can I just say how happy I am that this event is happening again, for the first time in three years. Yeah. And the truth is, I want us all to have a good time tonight. So, please, everyone relax. I know everyone in this room is worried about who catches you laughing at what, but just chill. Just chill. We’re celebrating. We’re out. You know? Get comfortable. Not too comfortable, Jeffrey Toobin — not too comfortable. No, you know what? No, don’t “ooh” him, you bunch of haters. You know what? So what, Jeffrey? You made a mistake. You whipped it out in front of your coworkers. That’s the first step to winning a Grammy for comedy album of the year. You’re halfway there, my friend. You don’t let the haters stop you. We all come back from mistakes.

Now, you might have noticed, I’m gonna be telling some jokes tonight. But I want you to understand. I’m not here to tear anybody down, okay? Yeah, I might roast you gently, you know, like a pair of testicles on a Tucker Carlson special, but I’m not doing this just for the attention, alright? I’m a comedian. I’m not Kyrsten Sinema, alright? And, by the way, give it up for Kyrsten Sinema. Whoever thought we’d see the day in American politics when a senator could be openly bisexual, but closeted Republican, huh? That’s progress. That’s progress.

And yes, I know a lot of you are worried, and yes, it is risky making jokes these days. We all saw what happened at the Oscars. I’ve actually been a little bit worried about tonight. I won’t lie. What if I make a really mean joke about, like, Kellyanne Conway, and then her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?

I just hope we all stay calm, because it is exciting to be here, even though some people don’t think this dinner should even exist, as you said, Mr President, because some people think this shows that the media is too cozy with politicians. But what those people don’t understand is that you guys have integrity. You would never allow personal connections to affect your ability to be good journalists. Isn’t that right, Chris Cuomo? Where is Chris, by the way? Is he here? Couldn’t make it?

Oh, by the way, before we really get going, a few quick announcements. Anyone here who is a Democrat in a swing district, I’ve been asked to remind you not to hand your résumé to the cable-news execs at your table until after the event, please. Thank you very much.

Also, a quick note before people order their Ubers home tonight, Governor Greg Abbott is generously providing free buses for the Telemundo table. Very classy, very classy.

But, man, what a room this is, huh? Look at this room. Everyone is here tonight. We’ve got politicians. We’ve got the media. We’ve got celebrities, basically anyone who’s been to Jeffrey Epstein‘s island. This is an exclusive event. In fact, coming in, I heard Meghan McCain telling the bouncer, “Do you know who my father was?” And they were like, “You have a ticket. You can just come in.” But she insisted on telling them who her father was, anyway.

And I’ll tell you, as somebody coming from Africa, I mean, I’ve just got to say this is so exciting to be at this swanky party full of Washington’s most powerful people. It’s not as exciting as Madison Cawthorn made it sound, but still very sexy, very, very sexy.

There’s many big names here tonight. One of my favorites, Ron DeSantis, is here. Yeah, yeah. Oh, man, I’m actually surprised that he found the time. He’s been so busy trying to outmaneuver Trump for 2024. I see you, Ron. I see you, player. Yeah. I’ve seen what you’ve been doing, blaming Trump for the lockdowns, distancing yourself from the vaccines that Trump created with his own two hands.

[as President Trump] Nobody knew how to make vaccines until I made them, beautiful, beautiful vaccines. Nobody know how, not even Fauci.

[normal voice] But Ron, Ron is playing it coy, man. He won’t even tell people if he got the booster, yeah. Or as they say in Florida, don’t ask, don’t tell. Am I right? I see you, Ron.

You see, what I like about Ron DeSantis is if Trump was the original Terminator, DeSantis is the T-1000. You’re smarter than him. You’re slicker than him. You can walk down ramps, yeah. Because, you see, Trump said he won the election, but everyone was just able to look at the numbers and see that he was wrong. That’s why Ron DeSantis is one step ahead. First, you ban the math textbooks, then nobody knows how to count the votes. Boom, my man. Ha ha ha!

What a room. Are you kidding me? The great chef, José Andrés, is joining us here tonight. Give it up for him, people, my good friend in the room. Whenever there’s a disaster anywhere in the world, Chef José is there, which I guess is why he’s sitting at the CNN table tonight.

Now, of course, the real reason that it’s such an honor to be here tonight is that we all get to be in the same room as the most powerful man in the United States. So, let’s give it up for Joe Manchin, everybody. Where is he? Is he there? Good to see you, sir. Good to see you. No, for real, for real, though, Mr President, thank you for being here. Thank you for having me here. I was a little confused about why me, but then I was told that you get your highest approval ratings when a biracial African guy is standing next to you.

[as President Obama] So, let me just say, Joe, I’m glad that I could do my part and, hopefully, this will work.

[normal voice] I’m not actually him. I just did the voice.

More importantly, First Lady, Dr Jill Biden, is here, everybody. Give it up for her. Interesting fact, even as First Lady, Dr Biden continued her teaching career. Yeah, the first time a presidential spouse has ever done so, ever. Congratulations. Now, you might think it’s because she loves teaching so much, but it’s actually because she’s still paying off her student debt. I’m sorry about that, Jill. Yeah, I guess you should have voted for Bernie.

You know, sir, can I just say? I think everyone will agree that it’s actually nice to, once again, have a president who’s not afraid to come to the White House Correspondents Dinner and hear jokes about himself. I’ll be honest. I’ll be honest. I’ll be honest. If you didn’t come, I totally would have understood because these people have been so hard on you, which I don’t get. I really don’t. I think ever since you’ve come into office, things are really looking up. Gas is up. Rent is up. Food is up. Everything.

No, it really has been a tough first year for you, Mr President. And, surely, you must be a little worried about 2024. There’s a lot of passion on the Republican side. There really is. It’s going to be an interesting time. And, as you all know, President Biden’s lack of a filter does get him into hot water sometimes. Last month he caused a huge international incident saying that Vladimir Putin should be removed from power. It was very, very upsetting to Russia. Yeah, until someone explained to them that none of the stuff Biden wants actually gets done.

But despite some hiccups, President Biden has led the country through some really dark times since he took office — the COVID pandemic, the war in Ukraine, the launch of CNN+. And don’t forget. Don’t forget. Don’t forget. He’s also had some major legislative successes in his first year in office, I might add. He got a bipartisan infrastructure bill passed that would do everything from fixing America’s roads and bridges to modernizing school buses, which Matt Gaetz‘s girlfriend is very excited about. Don’t boo love!

Not to mention, no President in my memory has given more marginalized groups opportunities. I’m talking about women, the LGBTQ community, the Taliban — the list goes on and on. And I know, Mr President, that the left is super upset at you, but I think that they should be happy to know that you just recently announced that you’re proposing a new 20% minimum tax on the super wealthy. And I will say, President Biden, that you are a big man here, a really big man. You could have targeted Donald Trump, but instead you chose to only raise taxes on billionaires. That was big of you. Really nice. Prove me wrong. Show me the taxes.

So, personally, I think that President Biden could do a better job of taking credit for the things that are going right. Unemployment is currently at 3(point)6%. Think about that, people, 3(point)6%. 2% if you don’t count the Cuomo family. And I will say, President Biden came into office and he’s done well and he’s done badly. And in this room, I know there’s a lot of mixed reviews. There was a lot of talk about how the President really respects the press, but what has he really done for you guys, huh? Think of all the journalists whose careers have been hurt by the Biden presidency.

People like Daniel Dale. Used to be CNN’s star fact checker, on TV every day. But now there’s barely anything to check.

Same for Glen Kessler of The Washington Post. On the way here, I saw him on the street offering four Pinocchios for a dollar. Mr President, that’s on you.

And what about Maggie Haberman? For four years, it was exclusives, huh? On the Russia investigation, corruption. The President doesn’t read his daily briefings — on and on. Now look at her! She spends all day fighting with random people on Twitter like a common political reporter. You’ve ruined her, Mr President.

Now, of course, President Biden doesn’t often have to deal with the media directly. Yes. That task falls to Press Secretary Jen Psaki. Yes. Glad you could make it tonight. Really glad you could make it tonight, Jen. It’s nice that you’re willing to come over here and risk getting COVID for like, what, the 10th time now? Let me ask, how do you keep getting COVID, Jen? Your boss hooked us all up with free tests. Does he not have your address? What’s going on there?

The word on the streets is actually that Jen Psaki is going to MSNBC next month. Yeah, yeah. Apparently, just being on C-SPAN, the ratings were too high, and she wanted more of a challenge. Wanted to switch things up. She can’t laugh at that. Don’t put the camera on her. If it’s true, congratulations to Jen on your big career change. But moving to MSNBC is going to be a big switch up for you because right now your current job is to make the Biden administration look as good as possible at all costs. Now you’re going to be at MSNBC and you’re going to have to, um — you’ll be fine, actually. Sorry. I don’t even know why I apologize.

By the way, MSNBC, can I just say you guys are doing great work? You know? I love watching your shows. When Trump was in office, your shows were all about how bad he was. And now that Biden’s in office, your shows are all about how bad Trump was. Consistency is important. We appreciate that. We really do.

Also, shout out to Joe and Mika. Yeah, I love you guys. Most adorable HR violation in town. I love it. So adorable. What?

And that’s why we’re really here, people. We’re here to honor the media. Yeah. So, first and foremost, let’s give it up for the White House press pool. Let’s give it up for them, please. You guys are relentless. Every day you show up, and every day you demand answers on the pressing issues of the day. And then Fox News asks about Hunter Biden. And I’ll be honest, though. I actually think that’s a good thing. I really do. I think people need to be held accountable if they’re using their dad’s name to get ahead in life. And I can’t think of anyone better to ask about that than Peter Doocy. Yeah. Wherever he is. Chris Wallace laughed at that joke.

But you see the real purpose of tonight is to honor some of the country’s best political journalists, people like Abby Phillip, Yamiche Alcindor. Right? And Mick Mulvaney. I actually get why CBS hired Mick Mulvaney. I get it. He’s more than just the guy who assured everyone that Donald Trump would concede gracefully. No, he can also get you access to other people who assured you that Donald Trump would concede very gracefully. It’s very important. So, shout-out to CBS, my corporate cousin. You can actually find us on Paramount Plus. Yes. Right between “SpongeBob SquarePants” and a bunch of movies that even Delta’s in-flight entertainment system turned down.

But I don’t want to dwell on that. I don’t want to dwell on Mick Mulvaney, when we have so many other great journalists here tonight. We got Anderson Cooper in the house, man. We got Rachel Maddow. We got Don Lemon. We got Shepherd Smith and so many other huge talents who can no longer be mentioned in Florida public schools. I see you Ron DeSantis! What’s going on, baby?

Oh, man. A lot of big media names in the room tonight. Chuck Todd is here. Chuck, you here? Yeah. How you doing? I’d ask a follow-up, but I know you don’t know what those are. Don’t boo him. He’s trying. Man, these people are mean, Chuck.

The Axios team is also in the house. I didn’t know this, but “Axios” is actually Greek for political playbook without the birthdays. Yeah. And Axios got a lot of flack a few years ago for releasing a staff photo that had fewer black people in it than CPAC, but kudos to Axios. They fixed that problem by not releasing any more staff photos. And Jonathan Swan, my man. I’m a fan, personal fan. You’ve been crushing it with those interviews. Congrats on the award. People are always asking, “How does Jonathan Swan get these politicians to open up to him?” I’ll tell you how. It’s the Australian accent. Yeah. American journalists sound too aggressive. “What did you do with the money? !” An interview with Jonathan Swan is like being interrogated by a koala bear.

[as Jonathan Swan] But, Senator McConnell, don’t you think it’s strange that you and the devil have never been seen in the same place at the same time? Don’t you think that’s strange?

[as Senator McConnell] Well, I guess when you go to hell, you’ll find out for yourselves.

[normal voice] NPR is here tonight, one of my favorites. Congratulations on all the work you do. I love Tiny Desk Concerts. I just wish you guys didn’t always have to beg for money. Maybe you’re spending too much on those tote bags. Who designs those? House of Gucci? Why don’t just ask Ivanka which kids make her stuff? Come on.

And how about The New York Times? Also here. Man, can I just say, New York Times, I did not realize how much you guys like to party. Yeah. I’ve seen some of you sneaking off to the bathroom to do things you’re not supposed to do tonight, like post on Twitter. Yeah, I’ve seen that.

I love The New York Times. I really do. You guys are the best. You do some of the most accurate, precise reporting in news. You never fail to write down exactly whatever the police have given you to say. Really powerful. Is it just me, or does The New York Times keep blaming bail reform on crimes that had nothing to do with bail reform? I’m half expecting to open your newspaper and see a headline “Mets blow 4-run lead due to changes in state bail laws.”

And it’s actually crazy how you guys have been attacked for everything, from your investigations into Trump’s taxes, to your reporting on the pandemic. And yet the biggest death threats that you received is because there were two L’s in the Wordle that day. That was wild.

By the way, give it up to those New York Times reporters who managed to get those Kevin McCarthy tapes. That was amazing. Yeah. Give it up for them. Incredible. You knew how crucial those tapes were, which is why you immediately waited until your book was for sale to tell the people about them. Bravo. Bravo. And you know what I liked about those tapes is that the one piece of good news is that now we know whether Nancy Pelosi or Kevin McCarthy are speaker of the house, that position will still be held by someone who believes that Trump should have resigned and was responsible for what happened on January 6th. Yeah. That’s bipartisanship. I like that.

I’m really excited because the kings of cable are here. Fox News in the house. Yeah. The top-rated news network for the past, what, 300 years? Killing it. And I know Fox has a bad reputation. I even feel you tense up now when I talk about them. They really do crush it. I think they get a bad rap because it’s a mixed bag. They actually have really good journalists. It just depends on when you watch. Right? Fox News is sort of like a Waffle House. Yeah. It’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in.

[as Jeanine Pirro] You can’t throw me out. I know the real president!

[normal voice] How about that Fox prime-time lineup, huh? Tucker Carlson. Sean Hannity. Laura Ingraham. Their coverage of COVID was really impactful. Their segments about vaccines moved their viewers into the ICU. And congrats. Congrats to Sean Hannity on becoming the longest-running host in cable-news history, by the way. Give it up for him. For real, give it up for him. Longest-running host. Don’t hate. Don’t hate the player. Yeah.

Fun fact. Sean Hannity and Ainsley Earhardt are actually dating now. Yes. Yeah. And I actually think it’s beautiful to see an office romance at Fox that won’t end in a $20 million settlement. Yeah. I’m sure wherever Roger Ailes is right now, he’s looking up and smiling.

Oh, Laura Ingraham, wow! What can you say about her that hasn’t already been said by the Anti-Defamation League? Powerful.

I’m just sad that Tucker Carlson isn’t here today. He’s my favorite. What a talent. Tucker Carlson, are you kidding me? Whoo! That man’s a beast. Who else could fill an entire show each night asking questions that Google could easily answer?

[as Tucker Carlson] Do vaccines work? Who really won the election? Who’s the president right now? Is this America?

[normal voice] Gripping stuff. But if we’re honest, people, there’s so much happening in the world right now. Sometimes it can be overwhelming, and you just want to tune it all out. And that’s why I love watching CNN. Where’s Jeff Zucker, by the way? Also couldn’t make it? What’s happening over there? Apparently Jeff got fired after he tried to keep his workplace relationship a secret, which is weird because if he really didn’t want anyone to know about it, he could have just made a show about it on CNN+. I know, I know. It’s so sad. CNN+ gone but forgotten.

You know who I blame? You know who I blame, CNN? I blame John King. That’s who. Yeah, John. Your magic wall can predict how every person in the country is going to vote in every county. But it couldn’t give you a heads-up that nobody wanted more CNN? They spent $300 million on CNN+. $300 million! Can I be honest, CNN? I think Stanley Tucci was playing you guys. Yeah. No, I think that dude knew exactly where Italy was. And he was just going to keep searching as long as you were paying. $300 million! Do you understand how much money that is?

I do get it. Streaming, they say, is the future. As the old saying goes, “You got to spend money to make sure that Chris Cuomo doesn’t get any wrongful-termination lawsuits.”

And that’s not the only big change going on at CNN. They just brought on Chris Licht. Yeah, my man over there, Chris, as the new head of news. Oof! His first order of business? Hire a guy who knows how to turn off the “breaking news” banner. Yeah. What happened with that? Did they just put it on during the OJ chase and then never figured out how to get rid of it? The news is not always breaking.

But this is an interesting time for the media world. As with many industries, the pandemic was a major disruption for journalists. But I also think it helped humanize you, honestly. Millions of Americans watched TV anchors reporting from inside their own homes. Meanwhile, reporters in print media were like, “We get it. You have homes. Way to show off.”

And we have to face the facts. The media is in a tough position. You did say that, Mr President. Informing the American public is harder than ever before. You’re battling conspiracy theories that the election was stolen by George Soros, that JFK Jr is still alive, that everyone in this room is a secret pedophile. And that’s just what Clarence Thomas’ wife believes. It’s insane, people. This is truly the golden era of conspiracy theories, whether it’s the right wing believing Trump can still win the 2020 election or the left believing Joe Biden can still win the 2024 election. Thank you, Mr President.

And so, as we sit in this room tonight, people, I really hope you all remember what the real purpose of this evening is. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, we dress nice. Yes, the people eat, they drink, we have fun. But the reason we’re here is to honor and celebrate the fourth estates and what you stand for — what you stand for — an additional check and balance that holds power to account and gives voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one. And I’m not just talking about CNN or Fox or any of the other major organizations. I’m talking about everyone, you know? The young journalists we saw today. You know, intrepid journalists who aren’t even in this room in Flint, Michigan. Or that daring reporter at the Des Moines Register or the unflinching local newscaster in El Paso, Texas. Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy. And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities, if you ever begin to doubt how meaningful it is, look no further than what’s happening in Ukraine. Look at what’s happening there. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what’s really happening. You realize how amazing it is. In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth even if it makes people in power uncomfortable, even if it makes your viewers or your readers uncomfortable. You understand how amazing that is? I stood here tonight and I made fun of the president of the United States, and I’m going to be fine. I am going to be fine, right? Do you really understand what a blessing it is? Maybe it’s happened for so long that it might slip your mind. It’s a blessing. In fact, here, ask yourself this question. Honestly, ask yourself this question. If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods, as you were talking about, Steve, and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing, if they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions, if they had basically what you have, would they be using it in the same way that you do? Ask yourself that question every day because you have one of the most important roles in the world.

Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate you. Please be careful leaving tonight. We all know this administration doesn’t handle evacuations well.

Good night, everybody. Thank you so much. Thank you.

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