If there’s anything more annoying than journalists and media types hyping up the White House Correspondents Dinner, it’s them blowing smoke about who they invited to be their guests. Viewers of Monday’s CBS Mornings were treated that to grotesque display as everyone gushed about them inviting anti-American basketball player Brittney Griner to be their guest of honor; even bragging about how her presence meant there were at “the cool people's table.”
“It was the weekend much of Washington waits for all year long as reporters, politicians, celebrities, all kinds of familiar faces gathered on the red carpet at the White House Correspondents Dinner, one of Washington’s biggest social events of the whole dang year,” co-anchor Tony Dokoupil touted at the top of their FIRST segment about the dinner.
Chief White House correspondent Nancy Cordes noted that Griner and her wife Cherelle “were guests of CBS News” and boasted that they were “one of the night’s biggest draws.” “President Biden met privately with Griner before the dinner. She described the moment to Gayle King,” she added before playing a video of Griner’s reaction King apparently shot with her phone.
Later that hour, CBS went to King directly so she could personally gush about having Griner at her table. “I couldn't stop smiling. I think my face hurt from smiling so much,” she described her evening with the Griners.
King would go on to brag that it was like sitting at the “cool” kids' table in school because everybody wanted to rub shoulders with Griner (including The View’s Sara Haines, who admits to “nuzzling up” into Griner’s “belly”):
Number one, I thought it made us the cool people's table because everybody wanted to come over and say hello to the two of them. Brittney and Cherelle were so gracious. Everybody wanted to take a picture, everybody wanted to know how they were doing. At one point I asked them, “Are you guys tired of this? Is this too much?” Brittney said, “No, I'm just so glad to be around people.” And how do you not feel good when everybody just wants to embrace you and show you love?
“As you know guys, she is lovely. It was so good to see her in person and talk to her. She's lovely and so gracious,” King praised her guest.
Just as a reminder, King was a Democratic donor and Obama family friend who loved cozying up to those on the left with power and/or notoriety.
If that wasn’t enough self-aggrandizement, King’s CBS co-workers congratulated her for winning theGrio’s Journalist Icon Award. “You got a big award, Gayle. We’re saying congratulations because, after the dinner, you were honored with theGrio's Journalist Icon Award,” co-anchor Vladimir Duthiers commended her.
King pretended not to like the spotlight being on her, saying, “The ‘I’ word scares me. Because I never see myself that way.” She went on to explain that she sees herself as a storyteller. “I got to share the stage with Diana Ross … That to me is a true icon. You know, it's theGrio awards, and grio, as you know, means storyteller and that really is how I see myself,” she said.
It's also telling that CBS was the only broadcast network still talking about the dinner on Monday morning.
The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:
May 1, 2023
7:22:04 a.m. Eastern
TONY DOKOUPIL: It was the weekend much of Washington waits for all year long as reporters, politicians, celebrities, all kinds of familiar faces gathered at the red carpet at the White House Correspondents Dinner, one of Washington’s biggest social events of the whole dang year. It's a fun event mostly, but there's a serious note, as well, focused on freedom of the press and defending democracy. And our Nancy Cordes was there as the guest of honor hit both of those notes.
[Cuts to video]
PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: I believe in the First Amendment. Not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it.
NANCY CORDES: With hundreds of journalists looking on, President Biden poked fun at one of his re-election weak spots: his age.
BIDEN: You say I'm ancient. I say I'm wise. They say I'm over the hill. Don Lemon would say that's a man in his prime.
CORDES: The White House Correspondent Dinner, sometimes known as nerd prom, brings together reporters, politicians, and a sprinkling of celebrities for a night of roasting themselves and each other. Comedian Roy Wood Jr.
ROY WOOD JR. Real quick, Mr. President, I think you left some of your classified documents up here. Don't give them to him. I'll put them in a safe place. He don’t know where to keep them.
CORDES: Both Wood and Mr. Biden took jabs at Fox News and its $787 million defamation settlement with Dominion Voting Systems.
WOOD: Three people you don't want to say in the courtroom, that’s Dominion, Cardi B., or Gwyneth Paltrow. You're going to lose.
BIDEN: I'd call Fox honest, fair, and truthful, but then I could be sued for defamation.
CORDES: One of the night’s biggest draws was basketball star Brittney Griner who was released in December from Russia after ten months of detention. She and her wife Cherelle were guests of CBS News.
BIDEN: Brittney, where are you, kid? Stand up. Come on.
CORDES: President Biden met privately with Griner before the dinner. She described the moment to Gayle King.
GAYLE KING: What did he say to you, Brittney, that stood out?
BRITTNEY GRINER: It was so good to see me. And he kept saying how big of a fan he was of mine and how much he loved the way I played basketball. I thought was pretty cool.
CORDES: Griner was joined at Saturday’s dinner by the families of journalists Evan Gershkovich, wrongly detained in Russia since March, and Austin Tice, held in Syria for nearly 11 years.
BIDEN: Our message is this: journalism is not a crime. They are not forgotten. And I promise you, I am working like Hell to get them home.
[Cuts back to live]
CORDES: Proceeds for this weekend's dinner go to fund scholarships for students around the country. This year more than $130,000 went to 31 aspiring journalists. And, of course, it is fun to play dress-up for a night. Look at this pic of the CBS News White House press team in our Saturday best.
But the weekend is about more than just the fancy parties, you guys. This is a celebration of the First Amendment really and a reminder that in many parts of the world it would be impossible to put tough questions to government officials, let alone to make fun of them in a public setting.
DOKOUPIL: Yeah, that is so true. Although, Tamara Keith of NPR who was a host of the evening; she did point out to Mr. Biden she would like to ask a few more questions if he could hold just a press conference or two in the near future, that’d be nice. But you're right. It was a beautiful celebration of some very important things, but also a party.
7:49:59 a.m. Eastern
GAYLE KING: Let’s talk about Brittney and Cherelle Griner. You were so right, Vlad, I couldn't stop smiling. I think my face hurt from smiling so much.
Number one, I thought it made us the cool people's table because everybody wanted to come over and say hello to the two of them. Brittney and Cherelle were so gracious. Everybody wanted to take a picture, everybody wanted to know how they were doing. At one point I asked them, “Are you guys tired of this? Is this too much?” Brittney said, “No, I'm just so glad to be around people.” And how do you not feel good when everybody just wants to embrace you and show you love.
I was very honored that they agreed to sit at the CBS table. There’s – Listen, Brittney took this picture, guys. She said somebody was trying to do the selfie, she said, “let me do it because my arm is like a selfie stick.”
Look at that picture. I go, “Brittney, I never would have said that about you, but you're right!”
VLADIMIR DUTHIERS: Gayle, what happened when she met the President?
KING: “I would have never said that about you, but you're right. You have very long arms.”
Okay. So, they had a private meeting with President Biden and Jill Biden. That was the first time they had met. You know, you just assumed that the two of them had connected. And she said that it felt -- Lindsay, who represents them, said that the President lit up like a Christmas tree when Brittney and Cherelle walked in the room. Said he was a being fan of hers, was glad to see her. And Brittney said, I hope my head doesn't get a little too big.
As you know guys, she is lovely. It was so good to see her in person and talk to her. She's lovely and so gracious.
DUTHIERS: Was incredible having her as a guest of CBS News.
DOKOUPIL: And speaking of big fans, Gayle, you got some big fans. You got a big award over the weekend.
DUTHIERS: You got a big award, Gayle. We’re saying congratulations because after the dinner, you were honored with theGrio's Journalist Icon Award. What did that feel like?
KING: Well, number one, that scares me a bit, the "I" word scares me. Because I never see myself that way. You know, I was on the stage --
KING: I don't. I got to share the stage with Diana Ross. Well, she was on first and then I came on after. So, we were never on at the same time. That to me is a true icon. You know, it's theGrio awards, and grio, as you know, means story teller, and that really is how I see myself.