Trevor Noah’s Speech Was Humorous and Yet Inspiring

From The Poynter Report wit Tom Jones:

Trevor Noah’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner was humorous and yet inspiring

“The Daily Show” host Trevor Noah crushed it as host of Saturday night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. It was a speech that perfectly roasted those in attendance and in the news, but also closed with a robust reminder of the important role a free press plays in our society and democracy.

Noah took aim at everyone — the right, the left and the media — in the first WHCA dinner since 2019. He even poked fun at the fact that this year’s event might have been (should have been?) postponed because of COVID-19, saying, “It is my great honor to be speaking tonight at the nation’s most distinguished superspreader event. For real, what are we doing here? Did none of you learn anything from the Gridiron dinner? Like, do you read any of your own newspapers? I mean, I expect this from Sean Hannity, but the rest of you, what are you doing here? You guys spent the last two years telling everyone the importance of wearing masks and avoiding large indoor gatherings. And the second someone offers you a free dinner you all turn into Joe Rogan. Fauci dropped out. That should have been a pretty big sign. Fauci thought it was too dangerous to come tonight. Pete Davidson thinks it’s OK. And we all went with Pete.”

Around 2,000 people attended Saturday’s dinner and now we’ll all hold our breath and hope it doesn’t turn into a superspreader.

Back to Noah. If you missed it, click here for his full remarks. But here are some of his better lines:

  • “I know a lot of you are worried and, yes, it is risky making jokes these days. We all saw what happened at the Oscars. I’ve actually been a bit worried about tonight, I won’t lie. What if I make a really mean joke about Kellyanne Conway and her husband rushes up on the stage and thanks me?”
  • “What I like about Ron DeSantis is if Trump was the original Terminator, DeSantis is like the T-1000. You’re smarter than him. You’re slicker than him. You can walk down ramps. Trump said he won the election, but everyone was able to look at the numbers and see that he was wrong. That’s why Ron DeSantis is one step ahead. First you ban the math textbooks, then nobody knows how to count the votes.”
  • “Think of all the journalists whose careers have been hurt by the Biden presidency. People like Daniel Dale. He used to be CNN’s fact-checker on TV every day but now there’s barely anything to check. Same for Glenn Kessler at The Washington Post. On the way here, I saw him offering four Pinocchios for a dollar. Mr. President, that’s on you. What about Maggie Haberman? For four years, it was exclusives. … Now look at her. She spends all day fighting with random people on Twitter like a common political reporter.”
  • “Fox News is sort of like a Waffle House. It’s relatively normal in the afternoon, but as soon as the sun goes down, there’s a drunk lady named Jeanine threatening to fight every Mexican who comes in.”
  • “They spent $300 million on CNN+. Three hundred million. Can I be honest, CNN? I think Stanley Tucci was playing you guys. I think that dude knew exactly where Italy was and he was just going to keep searching as long as you were paying.”

It was Noah’s closing remarks — serious and powerful — that made a lasting impression. While Noah poked fun at everyone, he closed with a not-so-subtle reminder of how fortunate we are to live in the country we do, where the media plays a critical role in our democracy.

Noah said, “So as we sit in this room tonight, I really hope we all remember what the real purpose of this evening is. Yes, it’s fun. Yes, we dress nice. Yes, the people eat, they drink, we have fun. But the reason we are here is to honor and celebrate the Fourth Estate and what you stand for — an additional check and balance that holds power to account. And gives voice to those who otherwise wouldn’t have one.”

Noah continued, “I’m not just talking about like CNN or Fox or any of the other major organizations. I’m talking about everyone.”

Noah said he was talking about local journalism in places such as Flint, Michigan, and Des Moines, Iowa, and El Paso, Texas.

“Every single one of you, whether you like it or not, is a bastion of democracy,” Noah said. “And if you ever begin to doubt your responsibilities — how meaningful it is — look no further than what’s happening in Ukraine. Journalists are risking and even losing their lives to show the world what’s really happening.”

Then Noah said, “You realize how amazing it is. In America, you have the right to seek the truth and speak the truth even if it makes people in power uncomfortable. Even if it makes your viewers or your readers uncomfortable. You understand how amazing that is? I stood here tonight and I made fun of the president of the United States and I’m going to be fine. … Do you really understand what a blessing it is? Maybe it’s happened for so long, it might slip your mind. It’s a blessing.”

He then closed by saying, “Ask yourself this question. If Russian journalists who are losing their livelihoods and their freedom for daring to report on what their own government is doing — if they had the freedom to write any words, to show any stories, or to ask any questions, if they had basically what you have, would they be using it in the same that you do? Ask yourself that question every day because you have one of the most important roles in the world.”

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