The Washington Post

White House Correspondents’ Dinners in years past

This evening, Jimmy Kimmel will take a shot at skewering President Obama, media and celebs in the audience and, very likely, the Secret Service and GSA at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. But taking a look back at years past gives a quick reminder of what the hot issues and big targets of the moment were.

2011: Seth Meyers hosted last year and was tough on the early GOP presidential primary field (especially Donald Trump). Osama bin Laden was still the butt of jokes; remember, it wasn’t until the next evening that it was revealed he’d been killed by SEAL Team Six agents in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

Memorable joke: “The president and Joe Biden were not invited to the royal wedding, and when Biden found out he immediately said to the president: You, me, Wedding Crashers 2. I’ll book us two Amtrak tickets to London.”

That year, Obama introduced his “birth video” to quell doubt about his origins (in the form of a “Lion King” clip). He acknowledged the early glow of his presidency had faded, and like Meyers, was hard on Trump.

Memorable joke: “Yes, I think it’s fair to say that when it comes to my presidency, the honeymoon is over . . . [Some] say that I’m arrogant, but I’ve found a really great self-help tool for this: My poll numbers.”

2009: At his first dinner, Obama poked fun at his popularity, while comedian Wanda Sykes targeted Rush Limbaugh in a controversial joke.

Memorable joke: “During the second 100 days, we will design, build and open a library dedicated to my first 100 days.”

2008:President Bush spoke about how it was his last year at the dinner, and what might be next for him.

Memorable joke: “After he left office, Vice President Gore won an Oscar and the Nobel Peace Prize. Hey, I don’t know, I might win a prize — Publisher’s Clearinghouse, or something.”

2006: In Stephen Colbert’s infamous roast of the former president, a sort of defining moment for the comedian’s sensibility, the topics of the day were NSA wiretapping, Iraq, and President Bush’s approval ratings.

Memorable joke: “Do you know you have more nerve endings in your gut than you have in your head? You can look it up. Now, I know some of you are going to say, I did look it up and that’s not true. That’s because you looked it up in a book. Next time, look it up in your gut.”

For more, we’ve gathered photos from past years highlighting guests and hosts back to Frank Sinatra in 1945:

View Photo Gallery: As the annual dinner approaches, a look back at past performers who have elicited big laughs and awkward silence, and the famous names who made their way to the celebrity-studded event.

Read more on the White House Correspondents’ Dinner:

Celebrity guests: A-list overload, red-carpet gridlock

Expected celebrity guests

Why are celebrities invited to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner?

Watch more videos from past White House Correspondents’ Dinners

Sara is a producer and editor for mobile projects at the Washington Post.


Success! Check your inbox for details. You might also like:

Please enter a valid email address

See all newsletters

Show Comments
Most Read


Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Your Three. Videos curated for you.
Play Videos
Be a man and cry
Deaf banjo player teaches thousands
Sleep advice you won't find in baby books
Play Videos
Drawing as an act of defiance
A flood of refugees from Syria but only a trickle to America
Chicago's tacos, four ways
Play Videos
What you need to know about filming the police
What you need to know about trans fats
Syrian refugee: 'I’m committed to the power of music'
Play Videos
Riding the X2 with D.C.'s most famous rapper
Full disclosure: 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, 1 ghoul
Europe's migrant crisis, explained