tv Julia Whiston and George Condon Discuss White House Correspondents Dinner... CSPAN April 29, 2017 1:44pm-2:26pm EDT
constructive working relationship with staff and with the president. that is something we care about and we are working toward. even as we continue to provide robust coverage of this white house, as we would regardless who is president. that is what we will continue to do. mason, white house reporter for reuters, thank you. mr. mason: my pleasure. >> you can watch the annual white house correspondents dinner live tonight at 9:30 p.m. on c-span. next, more on the dinner and a look at the memorial -- min memorable moments from the past. an upcoming book on the history of white house correspondents dinner's. thank you for coming.
let's talk about this dinner. why the washington hilton? how may people are in attendance? how did you pull this off? guest: we used of the hilton specifically because they can accommodate these people. they can accommodate the pre-parties. they have holding room for the president. that gives everybody a comfort level. this is the same event they do every year, right? guest: except for the prayer meeting. host: president trump is not in attendance, why? guest: it is not unprecedented for president not to come.
ronald reagan did not come. he had a good excuse. he had been shot. he called in. it was a funny call. before that, jimmy carter really disliked the press he skipped two of his. unlike other presidents who he wanted theit, press to suffer. they want me to come and perform or my supper, i'm not going to do that. he said his press secretary. and was aain in 1980 little more accommodating. it was not pretty.
what is unprecedented about this year's dinner is the staff boycotting it that has never happened. i find that troubling because the dinner started in 1921 to honor the press, to take care of the people and the staff who work with the press. get thes try to stenosis who prepare the transcripts, the people in the travel office. people who are out in the spotlight, we try to give them a night where we can say thanks. i find it troubling the staff is not coming. julie, how is that impacting this dinner this year? julia: we have sold out once again. when i started in 1993, the room was sold out. impacted the has media companies who bought
tables and expected that they would get gifts from the white house they have all -- like they always have. it did impact us, but unfortunately i believe it did impact our members and the organization. steve: let's talk about a few milestone it years. 1924, why is that your significant in your research in your book coming out? george: that is the first year of president of the u.s. attended. calvin coolidge. it was also interesting because he gave such a long, terribly boring speech on the separation of powers and what the constitution means to us. the correspondents association told him, and every president afterwards, you did not have and give a speech. we do not want a speech. basically, we do not want
another long, boring speech. that became unintentionally bury important in drawing other presidents to the dinner because they loved the fact that they did not have to give a speech. , herbert hoover, but coming to the dinner. , this is great, i do not have to perform or my supper. that held until john f. kennedy in 1961 gave a four minute speech that included jokes. it became something that presidents that they had to do after. year, another milestone 1941. george: that was the year the association came of age and got established. the single most important dinner ever because the night before the dinner, president roosevelt, who had just signed -- asked
permission from the correspondents to give a speech and to address the nation, alive address. , by radio. correspondents had all this humor planned, and skits, and offers -- and opera singers. they felt they had to say yes. they went from humor, broke to a speech that was broadcast live. the bbc translated it into 400 languages. it drew headlines and a reaction from hitler's. . it was a speech telling the democratic nations of the world, we will be there. we will help protect democracy. ended the speech, he basically signaled thousands of americans were probably going to
die in this war. they went to a comedian that started doing thought phil. it was jarring at a coming-of-age for the dinner. steve: let me get your thoughts on the issue of news. the massacrers ago of virginia tech. when you are head of the association in 1994, a president died the night before. the night before the dinner, i got a call from the white house saying they would like to do a moment of silent. george: i had artie planned that. alreadydded -- i had planned that. nixon had talked several times about the importance of the dinner and press relations. i added that. president clinton and i spent much of the evening talking about how much he had relied on nixon for help on china policy. the president still did his
humor reaching. steve: we have all been inside the room before the dinner is about to happen. you are the one making it all come together. what is going through your head? what is it like? give us a sense of the preparations. julia: the day of the dinner we open the office in the hotel. we have a rehearsal with the entertainer. since cell phones came out, they do not want to put their most of theirour surprise to been a us. a lot of the work is done coordinating with the secret service, ticketing. logistics. him --ht of, i am in the
i am in the cabinet room. we have always had a president there, this year, we won't. steve: how do you feel about that? disappointed for the scholarship kids. we have 23 coming this year. --lways look forward to it the photo with the president. that is really what they are excited about. i feel badly for them. we're concerned, it is on with the show. steve: let's take a look back at some of these gunners. i want to look at this documentary done by the smithsonian. they focus in part on the 2011 white house correspondents dinner. let's watch. the best speech ever is 2011. we had all these jokes ready.
we were supposed to meet with him in the oval one last time. the president's personal secretary says he is on the phone, he will have to wait. we were like, why do we have to wait? the president opens the door, he is tossing a football, he says, come in. he says, there is one joke for the punchline is bin laden. and i would change it to some other foreign sounding name. let's do that instead. me, it willrust kill. we change it and pray before the dinner, the president calls me and says just in case, would you add into the speech, god bless america and keep the troops safe. sure enough, the general and the general who
just gave the order for the bin laden mission. seth meyers was the comedian that year. he made a joke about bin laden has been found, he's alive, he is doing a show on c-span. was sorry to say the joke --the ratings were not the other thing that was interesting is it is the total of evisceration of an individual i have ever seen one of these dinners. the president's jokes about donald trump, and i had a good view of trump during the entire dinner, they really hit. president claims that he
was not bothered and he laughed hard, he was bothered. steve: we had a clear view. what was happening that night? what do you remember? julia: there were several vips in the audience. hollywood celebrities. they had a private tour scheduled the next afternoon at the white house. all of a sudden, everybody was getting a message on their cell phone, your tour is canceled. table andre at the they looked at that and said, what is going on? said, maybe aace pipe burst, i do not know. steve: let's take a look at the president's performance in 2011. mr. obama: donald trump is here tonight.
i know he has taken flak lately, no one is happy or prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest then donald. that is because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we faked the moon landing? [laughter] mr. obama: what really happened in rothwell? where are big eat and to box -- tupac?re biggie and all kidding aside, we all know about your credentials and breadth of experience. [laughter] example, just anently, and then it -- in
episode of celebrity apprentice, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from omaha steaks. there was a lot of blame to go around, but you recognized the real problem was the lack of leadership. ultimately, he did not blame you fired gary d c. decisionsthe kind of that keep me up at night. [laughter] [applause] mr. obama: well handled, sir. well handled. he would bring some change to the white house.
[laughter] was 2011.t george: we're still waiting to see if we'll have that change to the white house. steve: what made that so effective is it was not just cheap jokes about his hair. was cut right to mr. trump's self-image. steve: singed but not burned, what humor work and what does not? self-deprecation always works when it comes to the president. no matter who is president right now, barack obama is a very hard act to follow. had fortertainer we
this eight year said, his timing is impeccable, i cannot believe i have to follow him. this is tough. steve: one of those moments might have been in 2005 when george w. bush is taken off the stage by his wife. bush: he came across this old cowboy. the city slicker asked the old guy how to get to the nearest town. >> not that old joke, not again. [applause]
>> i have been attending these dinners for years. [laughter] >> and quietly sitting there. i have a few things i want to say. [applause] this is going to be fun because he really does not have a clue about what i will say next. george always says he is delighted to come to these press dinners, baloney. [laughter] >> he is usually in bed by now. i am not kidding. him the other day, george, if you really want to end tyranny in the world, you will have to stay up later. [applause] [laughter] i am married to the president
of the united states. here is our typical evening. 9:00, mr. excitement is sound asleep. i am watching desperate housewives. [applause] bush: ladies and gentlemen, i am a desperate housewife. if those women on the show think they are desperate, they ought to be with george. steve: 12 years later, you are still laughing. julia: imed. i will tell you why.
he was a genius. he used to call me and say, why don't we have to -- why don't we just have a joke war? he was such a good sport. he would schedule his vacations around dinner. did you have any idea that the first lady would do that? julia: none. give ther, we president's a list of special guests in the room. it turned out that year they knew that the cast from desperate housewives would be there. one of those things. steve: have there been years where humor worked? george: absolutely. my favorite year was the 1975 dinner when helen thomas was the president. she was the first woman to be
president of the correspondents association. the theme was woman hear me war. roar. somebody got the bright idea if we have a lebanese american, let's get an american lebanese as an entertainer. daughter was there. she's a feminist. she was celebrating the first breakthrough for women. , and thomas gets up there starts doing his las vegas act. the theme of which was, women, you love them but they don't have brains. they just can't think. have you ever seen a woman drive? jokes about women drivers and women being dumb. it is a tough audience. they started booing and hissing. he got madder and madder. i haveted trying --
women on pedestals but they can't drive. it got worse and finally he stopped and women reporters from boston star were following. on them and said, what are your names? i will have you both fired. we have all been there where we love our parents but we know they have done something embarrassing. she was there following and saying, he is getting. that was a disaster. ,wice rich little was there 1984 and 2007. half the people he was doing in his act were dead. and sullivan, johnny carson, nixon. that bombed. there are others i could mention.
andy thomas is my favorite. steve: let's talk about another moment. 2006, the white house calls you the night before the dinner and says what? it wasn't the white house that called, it was the secret service. secondid we will have a -- on stage. that means senior president bush will be joining his son on stage. they said, as far as we know. steve: this is what happened in 2006. members of the white house correspondents association, distinguished guest
, ladies and gentlemen, here i am. [laughter] curing him at another dang press dinner. i could be home asleep. pretend i liketo being here. [laughter] bush: the media really sticks me off. the way they try to embarrass me by not editing what i say. [laughter] let's get things going or i will never get to bed. thank you, mark. i am absolutely delighted to be here.
[laughter] as is laura. >> she is hot. [laughter] steve: how did he pull that off? how did the white house secret service organize all of this? julia: the white house advance .ad booked a room up in a hotel steve bridges was another guest walking into the hotel earlier that morning. his makeup was put on up in the rim and they brought him down right before he walked on stage in a freight elevator. steve: see you had no idea? julia: no. steve: this is the same dinner
stephen colbert was at. the next day, more people stopped about stephen colbert. why are we still talking about him? george: there was a tremendous divided about the reaction in the rim and the people watching on c-span. , bob hope first talked about this at the 1945 dinner. before people in the room would laugh at his jokes, they would look to present it roosevelt. it is a natural thing. he is the guest of honor. you are aware of his reaction. that night, you really were aware of the reaction. colbert was in a very tough spot. he could not follow the normal rules of comedy at these dinners of making fun of both sides. he was in character.
he was playing the character that he plays on tv. he could only make fun of one side. he was aware that it was not going well. planning on presenting diplomaident with a from getting out of eighth grade. he knew that was not going to go well. it was an impossible situation when you cannot make fun of both sides and are only targeting the president. steve: we began talking about the origins of the dinner. ronald reagan who was that most of the dinners, we will show an excerpt from his final dinner. did he enjoy going to these? george: he did.
some people have said no number ofenjoys -- a presidents do. president obama enjoyed it. george w. bush enjoyed going to the dinner although he hated how long they were. it cut into things he wanted to watch, like baseball games. he wished it was shorter. president clinton hated his first few, really enjoyed the last couple. steve: tell the story about monaco lewinsky -- monica linsky. in 1999, one of the awards that we gave was to michael lasso called. it was for a very controversial article regarding resident clinton. they knew how the program was going to go. the white house told us the president would be arriving late
that night. they did not come right out and say it. everybody knew that's what it was. so, they were not at the head table when dinner started to be served. i had moved people over so they were not on an island eating alone. said, we havevice a departure. i said, where? the president is at the sheraton. i said, we did not expect that. i quickly got the maitre d'and said move these people over. i had to go out and meet them when they arrived. room, hail to the the chief. i looked down at mike mccurry who was the press secretary. i said, how did you this? said, i told him i would kick
his but if he did not get here early. it all worked out. the only difference was, we had a vip reception beforehand and that was scheduled after the dinner. our board and others could be with the president and aretha franklin who was the entertainer. president's go to -- clinton is not the only one who was unhappy about having to give an award to reporters. the people getting the awards usually wrote something when they found a scandal. the first award was given in 1945. only three years later president truman had to give the word for somebody who wrote a story he hated. diary, truman wrote you have to give an award to a guy who wrote a practice -- pack of lies. when he actually presented it, he did not know it at all. so thatd the reporter
only he could hear them and he told him, if you keep mucking around with these things long enough, you will get a kick in the pants. pants is what was written, but what he really said is you will get a kick in the asked. s. president nick was furious when awards were presented in 1971 -- president nixon. he wrote several thousand long memo blasting his staff. he pointed out to them, i still would have been there for enough of the boring three-hour program as it was. he also wrote, he dismissed the award winners and the reporters there as way out left wingers. wasyone of the recipients receiving an award for a vicious attack on their ministration. i had to sit there for 20 minutes while the drunken
audience laughed as the award citations were given. the clinton was not alone. steve: how did you find this for your book? george: a lot of research. steve: you mentioned aretha franklin. that is significant. she is not a comedian. julia: she is not. for several years we have had ray charles. steve:.ha franklin let's go back to 1988. >> george bush is doing well. george has been a wonderful vice president. nobody is perfect. i put him in charge of anti-terrorism in the mclaughlin group is still on-air. [laughter] on the so much focus presidential election, i have been feeling little lonely these days.
i am so desperate for attention i'll must considered holding a news conference. [laughter] at the 40thou look president ronald reagan? george: he was a natural at the dinner. he enjoyed it. the only one he did not enjoy in 1982 when he had to go to anders air force base before the dinner and watch kaufmann come back from beirut. he was so upset when he got there, he told the president of the association, i cannot be funny. i'm not in the mood. he did not do his usual bit. he was a little bit distracted. steve: i want to show a very short clip, the advent of video in these routines. this is the final dinner with bill clinton. >> i wish i could be here more.
>> weiait! steve: when you look at that, hasn't been effective? julia: it has been. we always plan for, but the white house does not usually tell us that they have video until the day of the day before. two final moments we want to share. the final dinner with george w. bush in 2008 third let's watch. mr. bush: i love the band. i will save my farewell to you by doing something i have always wanted to do. of the in the spirit shared love for our country.
[applause] ♪ [laughter] [applause] steve: what the story behind this? george: the head of the marine band was in the oval office getting his commission, being congratulated on being named the full colonel. the president mentioned i admire you. i have always wanted to direct this. the colonel said, we will make that happen.
the president initially wanted to do gridiron, the colonel thought it would be more effective. they had the whole marine band come in and set up in the east room. the president when and for several personals. the colonel was quite pleasantly surprised that the president had some musical sense and was not a complete disaster at directing. he really enjoyed it. he was serious about it. they pulled off the surprise. the marine band told us, the white house told us. the marine band always plays people into the room. they play for the colors in the president. they usually leave and get on the bus. this time, we had them leave and go into the cabinet room where we have the private reception. dinneris portion of the -- for this portion of the
dinner, they came back quietly and were ready when the carbon -- curtain opened. steve: was there a mineral moment -- was there a memorable moment over the years? let's conclude with last year's moment with barack obama. mr. obama: this is a testament for those of you debated your lives. for those who shine a light on the truth every day. i want to close my final white house correspondent dinner by thank you -- by saying thank you. i'm proud of what you have done. it's been an honor and a privilege to work side-by-side with you to strengthen our democracy. [applause] with that, i have two more words to say. obama out. [laughter] [applause] that was president obama
last year. your thoughts? what youhat he said is have come to expect at the end of these dinners. presidents poke fun at you but at the end, they always conclude with showing they understand the system. we are all americans, we are all miss together. that is what is disappointing about the interaction with the white house this year. they do not seem to have the same feeling. steve: next year, you can watch the dinner on c-span. what moments stand in your mind? that i am onyear stage but behind a pillar in case people need be from the head table. and i see the color guard come and i everyone standing think, this is really pretty darn special. i get chills every year. i have each time. steve: we look forward to the book coming out. what has stood out?
in your research what stories are most interesting? george: one was last year. the 1946 dinner, i found the first african-american ever at the dinner. negro pianoyear-old playing prodigy from new york. his name was frankie sugar child robin said. he is still alive. him, i invited him to the dinner last year. with julie's help, i was able to take him to the reception and introduced him to the first african-american president. it was pretty moving. i was glad to help make that happen. steve: the book comes out in a year. george: i'm going to finish it this year and it will come out next year.
steve: we look for to that. george condon and julie winston. thank you to both of you. thank you for being with us. julia: thank you. >> five coverage of the white house correspondents dinner begins tonight at 9:30 p.m. with daily show comedian hassan panache. n. donald trump will not be there. up, we will be taking you to the national mall for climate change rally. it is one of several happening across the country this weekend. today's event and washington, d.c., is being organized by the people's climate movement. it should get underway around 3:00 p.m. has removedunced it several pages from its website including those that had to do with climate change. they said itt,
once to eliminate confusion by removing outdated language and make room to discuss how the epa is protecting the environment and human health by partnering with states and working within the law. those visiting the website are being informed that updates are happening to reflect epa priorities under the leadership of president trump. you can read more at the hill.com. >> this weekend, on american history tv. tonight, at 8:00, on lectures and history. townsend history professor on victorian era culture in the u.s. and the last half of the 19th history. >> these are the values that victorian are promoting. restrain yourself, do not give into your urges, be modest, do not brag. work hard, do not be lazy.
film 10:00, the 1984 soviet active measures about the soviet union's effort to use forgery, bribery, and fake news to further their cold war agenda. secret packages would be brought into my office. each time, there would be forgery there. at 6:30 p.m. theirians talk about roles as expert witnesses for court cases. >> history is sort of an add-on. it is the source of evidence or context to which most judges and loggers turned to to the extent that it is useful in a particular case. >> at 8:00, presidential historians on the most influential first ladies. >> dolly madison really