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Colin Jost Wins Over Tough White House Correspondents Dinner Crowd With Praise for ‘Decent’ Biden

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You had to hold on ’til the end.

“Saturday Night Live” comedian Colin Jost delivered a mixed bag of Trump zingers, media jokes and Biden age wisecracks in front of a demanding crowd Saturday at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but it took him until the last of his remarks to fully charm the assemblage of journalists and politicos who came to hear him roast the President and the Washington press corps.

Jost finished his remarks by telling President Joe Biden about his 95 year old grandfather, a longtime fireman in Staten Island, N.Y, who voted Democrat in the 2020 presidential election even though that borough of New York City is known to favor Republicans.

“He voted for you, and the reason that he voted for you is because you’re a decent man,” Jost told Biden. “My grandpa voted for decency and decency why we’re all here tonight.”

The anecdote wrapped a meandering collection of quips about perceptions of Biden’s age, former President Donald Trump’s ongoing legal woes and a few gags about The New York Times and Fox News Channel.

“The Republican candidate for president owes half a billion in fines for bank fraud and is currently spending his days farting himself awake during a porn star hush money trial and the race is tied?” asked Jost. “The race is tied. Nothing makes sense anymore.” He added: “The candidate who is a famous New York City playboy took abortion rights away, and the guy who is giving you abortion rights back is an 80-year-old Catholic. How does that make sense?”

The annual event presents a great opportunity for comedians, and also a veritable minefield. Because every president except for Trump has attended the White House Correspondents Association event since it launched early last century, there is heightened sensitivity about decorum. Some comedians, such as Stephen Colbert, Michelle Wolf and Larry Wilmore, have tripped those sensibilities. Others have held forth at the event without a scratch.

Jost is best known as the co-anchor of the long-running “Weekend Update” segment on “SNL,” and audiences may be unaccustomed to seeing him do a solo stand-up routine. He used his moment at the WHCD to dish out insults across the political spectrum. He cautioned President Biden to step more carefully as he walked up the stairs to Air Force Once and poked fun at Rupert Murdoch, the force behind Fox Corp. and Fox News Channel. “It’s the end of an era. Rupert Murdoch stepped down at Fox News. Which is strange – I didn’t think there was a step down from Fox News,” Jost said.

Still, the comedian seemed to be in Biden’s corner. “It’s after 10pm. ‘Sleepy Joe’ is still awake while Donald Trump has spent the past week falling asleep in court every morning –- though Fox News said he was just being anti-woke.”

He also had a few sharp remarks for the news organizations in the room. “Like many of you here tonight, I pretend to do news on TV,” he said.

For his part, President Biden urged journalists to keep in mind their role in preserving a functioning democracy, suggesting reporters steer away from horse-race campaign stories and “gotcha” moments in favor of the likely effects the next election will have on American life and policy. He also vowed to continue to work to free journalists like Evan Gershkovich and Austin Tice who have been imprisoned unjustly abroad.

President Biden also spent much time throwing a few stones at his Oval Office rival. He called Trump “Sleepy Don,” a reference to reports that Trump has been falling asleep during his current trial in New York, and turned ongoing questions about his own physical and mental condition toward Trump. “Of course, the 2024 election is in full swing. And yes, age is an issue,” Biden said. “I’m a grown man running against a six-year-old.”