“I’m actually excited to be right here tonight with the one group of People with a decrease approval score than I’ve,” Biden stated.

“That is the primary time a president attended in six years — it’s comprehensible — we had a horrible plague adopted by two years of Covid,” Biden stated, drawing an audible response from the gang. “Simply think about if my predecessor got here to this dinner this yr — now that might actually have been an actual coup.”

The president then quipped that roasting the GOP wasn’t his fashion.

“Moreover, there’s nothing I can say concerning the GOP that Kevin McCarthy hasn’t already placed on tape,” the president stated.

Although the White Home — and Washington — is seeking to transfer previous the pandemic, Covid’s presence was felt throughout Saturday’s occasion. Detrimental Covid checks and proof of vaccination have been required for entry, and friends stood in longer-than-usual traces to indicate the documentation.

Biden used the vaccination requirement to take a jab at some Fox Information hosts’ anti-vaccine rhetoric.

“Everybody needed to show they’re totally vaccinated and boosted. So when you’re at house watching this and also you’re questioning how to do this, simply contact your favourite Fox Information reporter. They’re all right here — vaccinated and boosted, all of them,” Biden stated.

However amid the jokes, the president typically struck a severe tone, with Russia’s conflict on Ukraine hanging over the occasion. Audio system, together with Biden, memorialized fallen journalists who’ve died in crossfire.

Biden stated the U.S. has seen the “braveness of the Ukrainian individuals due to the braveness of American reporters” on the bottom, shedding gentle on the atrocities unfolding by the hands of the Russian navy. He thanked reporters for overlaying Russia’s assaults, the lethal pandemic, America’s racial reckoning and local weather change’s existential menace to the nation.

The awards and speeches portion of the occasion kicked off with a pre-taped skit with speak present host James Corden within the White Home press briefing room earlier than WHCA president Steven Portnoy took the stage to welcome friends.

“We’re grateful for the vaccines, the therapies, the checks that make it potential for us to be right here collectively tonight,” Portnoy stated through the opening remarks. “We’re happy to have the president in attendance right here with us.”

Portnoy then requested the friends at desk 82 to establish themselves. That was the desk Biden sat at when he first attended the dinner in 1974 — as a visitor of the Philadelphia Bulletin night newspaper.

The cavernous ballroom was filled with about 2,600 individuals, with solely a handful sporting masks. Biden and first girl Jill Biden didn’t attend the dinner portion of the occasion and arrived simply earlier than the awards and speeches kicked off, sitting on the dinner’s signature dais — each with out masks.

The massive gathering was held amid fears that it might spur one other Covid outbreak after dozens of attendees — from members of the media to a few of Biden’s cupboard officers — examined constructive after the Gridiron dinner a couple of weeks in the past. Saturday’s attendees by and huge reported they loved getting out and about for his or her first Washington banquet since earlier than Covid struck the U.S.

Vice President Kamala Harris, who examined constructive for Covid this week, was not in attendance. Anthony Fauci additionally pulled out of the occasion final week because of issues over the virus.

Superstar attendees included comic Ziwe Fumudoh, Martha Stewart, Drew Barrymore, Brooke Shields, actuality star Kim Kardashian and comic Pete Davidson. Media bold-faced names included CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and Jake Tapper, MSNBC’s Pleasure-Ann Reid and CBS’ Gayle King. Others noticed at Saturday’s occasion included Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Meghan McCain and Al Sharpton.

“The Each day Present” host Trevor Noah took the stage after Biden to ship the normal roast by a comic.

“It’s my nice honor to be talking tonight on the nation’s most distinguished super-spreader occasion,” Noah stated in his inimitable fashion. “Did none of you study something from the Gridiron Dinner? … The second somebody presents you a free dinner you all flip into Joe Rogan.”

Eugene Daniels and Sudeep Reddy contributed to this report.