Donald Trump was notably absent from the 2016 Presidential Correspondents’ Dinner, which served as the highlight of President Obama’s career in stand-up comedy. No one was safe. He poked fun at everybody involved in his administration, including himself.
Trump would have been rubbing elbows with plenty of notables. The Presidential Correspondents’ Dinner, according to Washington Post writer Roxanne Roberts, has “devolved from a little-known media evening into a black-tie mash-up of the Super Bowl, the Oscars and Davos, Washington-style, thanks primarily to the presence of the president, which confers a gravitas that the evening no longer deserves, and an influx of Hollywood stars and corporate rubberneckers looking for free publicity.”
“Now it’s a red-carpet conga line for anyone with enough power, fortune or fame to land a ticket.”
There were a number of celebrities in the house, some of which the president singled out. He gave a nod to Helen Mirren and the cast of Spotlight. Carrie Fisher even showed up with her dog, Gary.
Obama proceeded to take down the presidential candidates, one at a time, starting with Bernie Sanders, who fell under the onslaught like a good-natured supporting cast member. The president went on to riddle Hillary, Ted Cruz, and, last but not least, Trump.
Well, where was Trump?
The crowd was visibly disappointed. Obama addressed the notable absence.
“I am a little hurt [Trump’s] not here tonight. We had so much fun the last time.”
He was talking about the 2011 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, where Trump’s stint on Celebrity Apprentice was ample fodder for ribbing.
“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?”
On Monday morning, Trump told Chris Cuomo of CNN why he had skipped the 2016 dinner, responding to the president’s nudge.
“I think he’s having fun and joking and I think it’s fine. I thought it was fine. Tell you the reason I didn’t go, if you have a second. I never really expressed this. The time I went, [the President] went after me and then [Seth Meyers] went after me. Honestly, I had a great time.”
— NPR (@NPR) April 16, 2016
Meyers’ 2011 lampooning of Trump began by getting the hair thing out of the way.
“Donald Trump often appears on Fox, which is ironic, because a fox often appears on Donald Trump’s head.”
Trump was hitting the height of disapproval by Obama supporters at the time, because as CNN reported, he had launched a campaign through Fox news to question the president’s nationality.
“He doesn’t have a birth certificate. He may have one, but there’s something on that, maybe religion, maybe it says he is a Muslim. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t want that.”
Meyers’ demolition of Trump was so complete that it has created renewed speculation about the reason for Trump’s presidential run. The New Yorker, in September, reported that jokes by Obama and Meyers may have been the fuel that blasted Trump into his campaign.
“One can’t help but suspect that, on that night, Trump’s own sense of public humiliation became so overwhelming that he decided, perhaps at first unconsciously, that he would, somehow, get his own back—perhaps even pursue the Presidency after all, no matter how nihilistically or absurdly, and redeem himself.”
The New York Times chimed in.
“That evening of public abasement, rather than sending Mr. Trump away, accelerated his ferocious efforts to gain stature in the political world.”
But Trump said no. This week he told the Washington Post that the public badgering was not the reason for his decision to run.
“It’s such a false narrative. I had a phenomenal time. I had a great evening.”
In 2011, Trump had spoken of Meyers’ attention.
“I didn’t like his routine. His was too nasty, out of order.”
Meyers didn’t stop there. Since then he has slayed Trump on a seemingly random basis on his show, Late Night.
Since the 2016 Correspondents’ Dinner, speculation is reaching a new peak as to whether Seth Meyers is to blame for the current state of the Republican party.
While much of it is tongue-in-cheek, there is a very real concern over candidates being “owned” by the things that celebrities say and do, and how much of Hollywood is pulling the strings behind our nation’s government.
[Image via Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock.com]