The White House Correspondents’ Dinner – it’s the one night of the year where journalists and politicians put their differences aside, come together and celebrate one of the most important tenets of the First Amendment: the free press.
Well, that’s what usually happens.
By now it’s safe to say that this presidential administration is one that strays from tradition and when it came to this year’s dinner, there was no exception. Noticeably missing from the room were any members of the President’s administration as well as the President himself.
Back in February, Donald Trump announced he would be skipping the WHCD, making him the first president to not attend the event since Ronald Reagan was sidelined by an assassination attempt in 1981. The decision drew criticism from many, including those in the media, but came as little surprise given the much-publicized tension between the President and the press since he’s taken office.
But president or not, the show must go on. And boy did it.
One of the night’s highlight moments at the annual event, alongside the honoring of journalistic achievement and the awarding of scholarships to the next generation of journalists, is the comedian’s roast. From the moment Donald Trump took office, everyone wondered who would be chosen to take the President to task at his first WHCD, and this year that honor went to The Daily Show’s senior correspondent Hasan Mihnaj.
Here are some of the best moments from Hasan Mihnaj’s WHCD Speech:
On Trump’s Muslim Ban and previous remarks about President Obama’s nationality:
“Who would have thought that with everything going on in the country right now that a Muslim would be on this stage for the ninth year in a row?”
On White House advisor Kellyanne Conway’s infamous ‘alternative facts’ statement and immigrants:
“I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one wanted to do this, so of course, it lands in the hands of an immigrant.”
On the purpose of the night’s event (with a reference to “Game of Thrones”):
“Tonight is about defending the First Amendment and the free press and I am truly honored to be here even though all of Hollywood pulled out now that King Joffrey is president and it feels like the Red Wedding in here.”
On Trump’s no-show and alleged election tampering by Russia:
“We gotta address the elephant that’s not in the room. The leader of our country is not here and that is because he lives in Moscow—it’s a very long flight, it would be hard for Vlad to make it. As for the other guy, I think he’s in Pennsylvania because he can’t take a joke.”
On the President’s temperament:
“A lot of people told me, ‘Hasan, if you go after the administration it would be petty, unfair and childish.’ In other words, presidential.”
On Donald Trump’s infamous complexion:
“I get why Donald Trump didn’t want to get roasted tonight, by the looks of him he’s been roasting non-stop for the last 70 years.”
On Trump’s decision to launch missiles at Syria and drop ‘The Mother of All Bombs’ in Afghanistan:
“Historically, the President usually performs at the Correspondents’ Dinner, but I think I speak for all of us when I say, he’s done far too much bombing this month.”
On Trump’s sobriety and Twitter habits:
“He tweets at 3 a.m. sober. Who is tweeting at 3 a.m. sober? Donald Trump—because it’s 10 a.m. in Russia. Those are business hours.”
On Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’ absence:
“Betsy DeVos couldn’t be here, she’s busy curating her collection of children’s tears.”
On Attorney General Jeff Sessions absence and racism allegations:
“Jeff Sessions couldn’t be here tonight, he was busy doing a pre-Civil War reenactment. On his RSVP he just wrote no, which happens to be his second favorite n-word.”
On Press Secretay Sean Spicer:
“Sean Spicer gives press briefings like someone is going through his browser history while he watches. Realize that Sean Spicer has been doing PR since 1999. He’s been doing this for 18 years, and somehow, after 18 years, his go-to move when you ask him a tough question is to deny the Holocaust.”
On public distrust of the media:
“Supporters of President Trump trust him. And I know, journalists, you guys are definitely trying to do good work, I just think that a lot of people don’t trust you right now. And can you blame them? I mean, unlike Anderson Cooper’s bone structure, you have been far from perfect.”
On anti-Islam rhetoric on Fox News:
“As a Muslim, I like to watch Fox News for the same reason I like to play Call of Duty. Sometimes, I like to turn my brain off and watch strangers insult my family and heritage.”
On CNN’s overuse of “breaking news”:
“I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to DEFCON One just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer.”
On the media’s responsibility, Trump’s tendency to watch cable news, and minority sentiment:
“I don’t have a solution on how to win back trust, but in the age of Trump, I know that you have to be more perfect now more than ever because you are how the President gets his news. Not from advisers. Not from experts. Not from intelligence agencies. You guys. So that’s why you gotta be on you’re “A” game, you gotta be twice as good. You can’t make any mistakes because when one of you messes up, he blames your entire group. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.”
On the importance of the First Amendment:
“The president didn’t show up because Donald Trump doesn’t care about free speech. The man who tweets everything that enters his head refuses to acknowledge the amendment that allows him to do it. Think about it, in four hours Donald trump will be tweeting about how bad Nicki Minaj bombed at this dinner and that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would.”
Watch Hasan Mihnaj’s full speech below!