President Donald Trump finally decided to put his feud with the media on hold long enough to appear at one of the industry’s vaunted dinners when he almost unexpectedly attended last weekend’s Gridiron Dinner. And sparing no one, Trump came loaded with jokes about nearly everyone — including himself.
The president joked about the media, Vice President Mike Pence, Jared Kushner and his security clearance troubles, and a list of Democrats. He surprised everyone by acting the good sport and easily getting into the spirit of the night.
Meanwhile, first daughter Ivanka Trump wowed the room by wearing an elegant black and white Carolina Herrera gown as hubby Jared sported a snazzy black tux with white shirt, tie, and vest.
Drawing rave reviews, Ivanka debuted her gown on Twitter before the event:
My pre-game partner in crime! pic.twitter.com/oPgXLwbiQd
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) March 4, 2018
The Gridiron Dinner is one of the several media industry events where everyone gathers to roast each other and to forget about the cut throat world of politics and journalism if only for a little while. It is sponsored by the Gridiron Club, one of the most prestigious journalistic organizations in Washington DC. Indeed, it is so prestigious that every single president since Benjamin Harrison (except Grover Cleveland) has spoken at the event.
But with the tension between Trump and the media higher than it has ever been between a president and the media, many wondered if Trump would attend at all and if he did, how would he be received by an industry that works daily to see him impeached.
It appears the curiosity was quickly put to rest as Trump brought his “A” game putting everyone at ease and drawing some hearty laughs.
As he mounted the dais he opened insisting, “My staff was concerned that I couldn’t do self-deprecating humor. And I told them not to worry, nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do.” That icebreaker started his segment off with a hearty laugh.
Trump referenced the “chaos” factor of his White House, too laughing that he had “Another calm week at the White House. We finally have it running like a fine-tuned machine.”
Another zinger the president added early in his bit was to joke that his son-in-law couldn’t get into the dinner because he couldn’t get through security. This is, of course, a joke over Jared Kushner’s recent failure to gain a security access clearance at the White House that had all of the media gabbing last week.
While many on the media accuse President Trump of being too thin-skinned and unable to take any criticism, Trump poked fun at himself frequently throughout his turn at the microphone.
Some of his self-deprecating jokes included the following:
- “I won’t rule out direct talks with Kim Jong Un, I just won’t. As far as the risk of dealing with a madman is concerned, that’s his problem not mine.”
- “Nobody does self-deprecating humor better than I do. It’s not even close!”
- “I was very excited to receive this invitation and ruin your evening in person. That’s why I accepted.”
- “It’s been a very tough year for CNN. They’ve lost a tremendous amount of credibility this year and your best reporter, Steve Bannon. That guy leaked more than the Titanic!”
- About The New York Times, he said: “I’m a New York icon. You’re a New York icon. The only difference is, I still own my buildings.”
With the media constantly twittering about the list of people who have left the White House, the president joked about who might be next saying, “So many people have been leaving the White House. It’s invigorating since you want turnover. I like chaos. It really is good. Who’s going to be the next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?”
Trump also joked that Vice President Mike Pence is eagerly sitting in the wings waiting for Trump to be impeached so he can take Trump’s place as president.
“I really am very proud to call him The Apprentice,” Trump said of Pence. “But lately, Mike’s showing a particularly keen interest in the news. He is asking, ‘Has he been impeached yet?’ I don’t like that.”
Trump didn’t let that joke pass, though, without poking the media in the ribs when he added, “You can’t be impeached when there’s no crime. Put that down!”
The president also made mention of his contentious relationship with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, too. Trump said he offered the AG a ride to the dinner: “I offered him a ride over and he recused himself.”
Trump next slammed the dog-eat-dog world of politics by comparing his job as president to his former stint as the host of the TV show The Apprentice.
“In one job I had to manage a cutthroat cast of characters desperate for TV time, totally unprepared for their roles and their jobs, and each week afraid of having their asses fired,” Trump snarked. “And the other job, I was the host of a smash television hit.”
He went on to rib the media saying that he hadn’t had as much fun with them since “watching your faces on election night.”
After the event Trump took to Twitter, as is his wont, and noted that he had a fantastic time at the dinner.
The Gridiron Dinner last night was great fun. I am accomplishing a lot in Washington and have never had a better time doing something, and especially since this is for the American People!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 4, 2018
But, as is the media’s wont, the night’s quips weren’t without controversy. Some insisted that one of Trump’s joke was “racist.”
At one point during his set of jokes, the president said that many of his rivals, such as Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters — who daily calls for his impeachment — should “immediately take an IQ test.”
That sent the left into a tailspin as they proclaimed Trump to be a “racist.”
In fact, showing that she has no sense of humor, Waters herself was on MSNBC soon after the dinner where she attacked the president for the joke.
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) March 4, 2018
“Well, you know, this president has been called stupid, he has been called ignorant, and even his secretary of state did not deny that he called him a moron,” Waters bellowed. “And so he has no credibility. He has been name calling, he’s been saying all kinds of things.”
“I certainly expected him to come out with some racist remarks about me,” she added. “So he did exactly what I expected him do. And, by the way, I’m told he wasn’t funny at all.”
Other left-wingers also attacked Trump for the quip.
Trump made an incredibly racist crack about Maxine Waters needing to take an IQ test tonight at the Gridiron and it has barely even registered a mention in coverage of the event. An appalling moment that I can’t believe isn’t everyone’s lead takeaway.
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 4, 2018
Time for the GOP to just own its racism. Another WTF moment: @thehill ignores 45's incredibly racist "joke" against Maxine Waters in piece on his Gridiron speech. https://t.co/N2rt7uEy70 https://t.co/K9Aj7nmp3G
— Deirdre McGlynn (@deirdremcglynn) March 4, 2018
But, the faux outrage is a bit hard to take considering the fact that Trump has used this “IQ test” slam before.
Here are just a few examples:
.@GovernorPerry failed on the border. He should be forced to take an IQ test before being allowed to enter the GOP debate.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 16, 2015
Highly untalented Wash Post blogger, Jennifer Rubin, a real dummy, never writes fairly about me. Why does Wash Post have low IQ people?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 1, 2015
.@hardball_chris must have the lowest IQ on television—now telling people that domestic terrorists are from the right.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 16, 2013
So, he has used this slam many times before. The fact that the media is suddenly all upset is a bit precious, isn’t it?