Pence jokes with ‘enemy of the people’ at dinner
President Donald Trump has declared that the media are the “enemy of the people”, but his administration is willing to joke around with reporters — and poke fun at itself — in a venerable local tradition.
Vice-President Mike Pence was the featured speaker on Saturday night at the 132nd annual Gridiron Dinner, a comedic white-tie affair featuring skits, songs and speeches.
He called the dinner “a lighthearted respite” from bruising beltway politics and dished out a number of jokes, including a dig at the Best Picture snafu at last week’s Academy Awards.
“We haven’t seen that many shocked Hollywood liberals since Nov 8,” Pence said, recalling Trump’s upset election victory.
Trump did not attend the dinner, but instead, spent the weekend at his coastal Florida estate. For more than a century, every president had spoken at the dinner at least once.
But while most of Pence’s remarks were self-deprecating, he also chastised reporters over what he considered unfair news coverage, seeming to channel his boss, the media critic in chief, by saying “we all just have to do better”.
Most of the night, though, was good-humoured with jabs at Hillary Clinton, White House leaks and the lingering question of Russian influence in the election.
The dinner is a Washington tradition. The Gridiron Club was founded in 1885, just after the election of Grover Cleveland. He never attended a dinner, but every president since had been at least once.