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The Daily Show‘s Hasan Minhaj took the stage at the 2017 White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night and addressed President Donald Trump’s absence almost immediately.
“Welcome to the series finale of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” he began. “My name is Hasan Minhaj, or, as I’ll be known in a few weeks, No. 830287.”
Minhaj criticized Trump throughout his 2016 campaign and during his first 100 days as president through segments on The Daily Show With Trevor Noah. He continued his criticism of the “liar-in-chief” during his speech.
“We’ve got to address the elephant that’s not in the room. The leader of our country is not here. And that’s because he lives in Moscow.” He also asked, “Who is tweeting at 3 a.m. sober? Donald Trump, because that’s 10 a.m. in Russia — those are business hours.”
“Historically, the president usually performs at the Correspondents’ Dinner, but I think I speak for all of us when I say he’s done far too much bombing this month,” joked Minhaj.
“I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact. It is not. No one wanted to do this,” he said. “So, of course, it lands in the hands of an immigrant.”
Minhaj also asked why reporters care that Trump golfs so much. “Why do you care? Do you want to know what he’s not doing when he’s golfing? Being president. Let the man putt-putt. Keep him distracted. … The longer you keep him distracted, the longer we’re not at war with North Korea.”
While the annual gathering of journalists took place, Trump was at a rally in Pennsylvania, where he addressed the crowd, saying, “There is no other place I would rather be.” In addition to blasting the WHCD, the 45th president also took aim at the general U.S. media, saying, “CNN and MSNBC are fake news. And they’re sitting [in Washington], and they’re watching, and they would love to be with us right here tonight, but they’re trapped at a dinner, which will be very, very boring.”
Trump announced in February that he would not be attending the annual event, which celebrates the work of journalists and correspondents who cover the White House.
The absence of the 45th president is the first since President Ronald Reagan skipped the event in 1981. Reagan, who missed the dinner after the assassination attempt on his life, delivered his regards at the event via telephone.
Trump’s decision came after The New York Times, CNN and Politico were denied access to a White House news briefing in the first weeks of his presidency.
Before Trump decided against attending the dinner, The New Yorker and Vanity Fair canceled their dinner-themed events for this year, with CNN deciding to bring young, aspiring journalists to the event instead of the usual list of celebrities.
Watch Minhaj’s full speech below.
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