D.C. Media's Gridiron Dinner Still Mocked Bush-Cheney, But Honored Obama as Historic

President Obama spurned the D.C. media elite and skipped the annual Gridiron Dinner, but this didn’t lead to an increase in nasty Obama jokes. What nasty Obama jokes? But the media party still dwelled on mockery of Bush, Cheney, and Sarah Palin. In Monday’s Washington Post, reporter Dan Zak began by admitting the media’s audacity of hype for Obama:

The media just wanted a good cuddle with their golden boy. At the annual Gridiron Club dinner in the grand ballroom of the Marriott Renaissance, the president was supposed to be at the head table, smiling and clapping as the club's journalists flounced around in costume, belting political parodies to the tunes of Rodgers and Hammerstein and Gilbert and Sullivan.

The president, however, had planned to skip the affair to spend time with his family at Camp David. Typical. String 'em along, get elected, go back to the wife. The nerve.

Zak even tried to explain why Obama might have skipped out: "Not since Grover Cleveland has a president skipped the dinner in his first year in office. Obama cited family commitments, but it's entirely probable that he didn't want to be seen in white tie and tails at a $300-a-plate dinner of lobster panna cotta, yukking it up with Beltway insiders, while the economy bottoms out."

The real answer is that Obama’s so confident the media will remain on his side that he has no fear that skipping out on a historic tradition will hurt the positive quality of his press clips (even if it was a rough week by the usual syrupy standards). It might also be true that his absence made it less necessary for the media to mock the one they love. In fact, the party carried an Obama tribute, as Zak reported:

At least six songs are directly addressed to the president, and one is a completely straight-faced celebration of his historic election and inauguration. The song features Gridiron members dressed like Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony. It goes off like a first-grade social studies project, receives delayed and confused applause, and is followed by a toast to the missing commander in chief.

The media seems still stuck in last year. After NBC’s Andrea Mitchell mocked her own husband, Alan Greenspan, there was this:

Then the evening's most applauded number, with a Dick Cheney impersonator (in wheelchair and fishing gear) channeling Sinatra and referencing George W. Bush: "He did it myyy wayyy."

And:

Onstage, CBS anchor Bob Schieffer has donned a Stetson to play George W. Bush. "He's in the White House now -- not my problem now," Schieffer sings to the tune of "In the Jailhouse Now."

The crowd also roared at itself, for being so obviously in love with Obama:

By 9:30 Schwarzenegger is at the podium, resurrecting the crowd with his speech. "You did such lovely work for [Obama]," he tells the media elite. "You put your lives on hold to put him in the White House. Now you get all dressed up, the champagne's on ice, and you find out he's just not that into you."

Zing! The crowd roars.

Throughout the night, the Sarah Palin jokes keep coming, as do the Hillary Clinton jokes, unemployment jokes, AIG jokes, death-of-the-newspaper jokes, Obama-as-messiah jokes, jokes about Rahm Emanuel's potty mouth, jokes about Michael Steele and Rush Limbaugh and the fate of the GOP -- everything you've heard before, and done better, on "The Daily Show."

Zak suggested "sexy-dorky" OMB director Peter Orszag wanted to make an escape. An AP dispatch captured the low level of humor:

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm said that former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the governor of Alaska, "really set back the cause of hot governors."

Then, with an eye on Pennsylvania's chief executive, Granholm added: "You know where I'm coming from, Ed Rendell."

The Democrat also took a shot at Schwarzenegger, asking which of his movies best prepared him to deal with the GOP: "True Lies" or "Kindergarten Cop"?

[Obama messiah image from Watching America.]

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