The “liberal world order” that laid the foundation for global peace, stability and prosperity since World War II is now under “serious assault”, US President Joe Biden has said as he joined the White House correspondents in celebrating freedom of press and speech.
Joined by over 2,500 celebrated guests from across the US’ polity, bureaucracy, entertainment and corporate sectors, Biden became the first US president in six years to attend the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner on Saturday.
While the event was cancelled in the last two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump did not attend the function in the first three years.
“This is the first time a president has attended in six years; it’s understandable, we had a horrible plague followed by two years of Covid. Just imagine if my predecessor came to this dinner this year, now that would really have been a real coup,” Biden said as he went serious on the threat that democracy is facing globally.
“We’re in a time when what we have so long taken for granted is facing the gravest of threats and I’m being deadly earnest. Overseas, the liberal world order that laid the foundation for global peace, stability and prosperity since World War II is genuinely, seriously under assault,” Biden said in his maiden address to the WHCA Dinner as the president of the United States.
Biden, though, has been attending the annual dinner since early 1970 when he was first elected as a Senator from Delaware.
“And at home, a poison is running through our democracy…all this taking place with disinformation massively on the rise. But the truth is buried by lies, and the lies live on as truth. What’s clear, and I mean this from the bottom of my heart, that you, a free press, matter more than you ever did in the last century,” he said.
Taking a dig at Trump, Biden said American democracy cannot be run as a reality show.
“The free press is not the enemy of the people, far from it,” Biden said, in a nod to one of Trump’s favorite media attack lines. “The truth matters. American democracy is not a reality show. It’s not a reality show. It’s reality itself,” Biden said.
The speech of the president at this prestigious annual event is normally seen in a lighthearted tone, full of jokes and making fun of the others.
“I’m really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have,” Biden said at the start of his remarks. Sitting on the head table were First Lady Jill Biden and Press Secretary Jen Psaki, along with elected members of the White House Correspondents’ Association.
Vice President Kamala Harris could not attend the function as she had tested COVID-19 positive.
The annual dinner is used to raise funds by WHCA to give scholarships to several dozen talented journalists from US and other parts of the world as well. Popular comedian and host of ‘The Daily Show’, Trevor Noah, spoke after Biden.