White House Correspondents Dinner Tonight: Wanda Sykes Will Never Match Stephen Colbert for President-Trashing

Barack Obama’s first White House Correspondents’ Dinner is tonight, and the comedian in the roasting job is Wanda Sykes. The burning question: will Sykes really make fun of the president, or go all gentle, since she is a big Obama fan?

I suspect she’ll do a few jokes in the usual accepted vein, some messiah jokes and some tax-evading nominee jokes, but nothing like Stephen Colbert’s 2006 Bush-trashing leftist routine, complete with Helen Thomas-like attacks on the media for being in Bush’s pocket. Here's some examples:

– To actually sit here, at the same table with my hero, George W. Bush, to be this close to the man. I feel like I'm dreaming. Somebody pinch me. You know what? I'm a pretty sound sleeper -- that may not be enough. Somebody shoot me in the face.

– We're not so different, he and I. We get it. We're not brainiacs on the nerd patrol. We're not members of the factinista. We go straight from the gut, right sir?

– I believe the government that governs best is the government that governs least. And by these standards, we have set up a fabulous government in Iraq.

– Now, I know there are some polls out there saying this man has a 32% approval rating. But guys like us, we don't pay attention to the polls. We know that polls are just a collection of statistics that reflect what people are thinking in "reality." And reality has a well-known liberal bias.

– I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message, that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound -- with the most powerfully staged photo ops in the world.

-- The greatest thing about this man is he's steady. You know where he stands. He believes the same thing Wednesday that he believed on Monday, no matter what happened Tuesday. Events can change; this man's beliefs never will.

Colbert also used his typical conservative-trashing joke, the tired line that he, like most conservatives, doesn't believe in reading. It's the most pandering line imaginable to liberals who feel that all educated people agree with them, and if you disagree, you're not educated:

And I just like the guy. He's a good Joe. Obviously loves his wife, calls her his better half. And polls show America agrees. She's a true lady and a wonderful woman. But I just have one beef, ma'am. I'm sorry, but this reading initiative. I'm sorry, I've never been a fan of books. I don't trust them. They're all fact, no heart. I mean, they're elitist, telling us what is or isn't true, or what did or didn't happen. Who's Britannica to tell me the Panama Canal was built in 1914? If I want to say it was built in 1941, that's my right as an American! I'm with the president, let history decide what did or did not happen.

The media probably enjoyed the fake attack on the liberal media, even the charge that they were weak in attacking George Bush:

As excited as I am to be here with the president, I am appalled to be surrounded by the liberal media that is destroying America, with the exception of Fox News. Fox News gives you both sides of every story: the president's side, and the vice president's side.

But the rest of you, what are you thinking, reporting on NSA wiretapping or secret prisons in eastern Europe? Those things are secret for a very important reason: they're super-depressing. And if that's your goal, well, misery accomplished.

Over the last five years you people were so good -- over tax cuts, WMD intelligence, the effect of global warming. We Americans didn't want to know, and you had the courtesy not to try to find out. Those were good times, as far as we knew.

But, listen, let's review the rules. Here's how it works: the president makes decisions. He's the Decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put 'em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration. You know -- fiction!

Because really, what incentive do these people have to answer your questions, after all? I mean, nothing satisfies you. Everybody asks for personnel changes. So the White House has personnel changes. Then you write, "Oh, they're just rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic." First of all, that is a terrible metaphor. This administration is not sinking. This administration is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

Actually, "misery accomplished" is a great title for the media coverage of Bush. But any conservative with a fondness for Stephen Colbert's conservative-trashing shtick should be directed to this routine. Can we imagine liberals would enjoy it if there were a liberal version of this? If there were a liberal Colbert-clone, they would never, ever be invited by the Obama-loving media to the White House Correspondents dinner.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis