The dinner, held Saturday night, was a markedly different affair from years past — in a break with precedent, Trump did not attend the dinner, opting instead to bolster his fans at a rally in Harrisburg, Pa.
Despite Trump’s absence, Minhaj, the featured speaker for the event, went ahead in roasting the president and noting the importance of the First Amendment.
“Now that King Joffrey is president, it feels like the Red Wedding in here,” he said. “For the record, the WHCA is a group of journalists; they are not King Joffrey’s goons.”
Read his speech below:
Thank you, wow, oh my God. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the series finale of the White House correspondents’ dinner. Oh man.
My name is Hasan Minhaj, or, as I will be known in a few weeks, Number 830287.
Who would have thought, with everything going on in the country, that a Muslim would be standing on this stage — for the ninth year in a row, baby.
We had eight years of Barack. What’s another year? I see you, fam. I see you, Barry. What you doing? You jet-skiing while the world burns. That’s cool. That’s cool. That’s cool.
For those of you who do not know me, I’m a correspondent on the Daily Show on Comedy Central. Now, I see some of you whispering to each other. What is Comedy Central? It’s basically an internship for Netflix.
I would like to thank Jeff Mason and the White House Correspondents’ Association for having me. I would say it is an honor to be here, but that would be alternative fact. It is not. Uh, no one wanted to do this. So, of course, it lands in the hands of an immigrant. That’s how it always goes down. No one wanted this gig. No one.
Don Rickles died just so you wouldn’t ask him to do this gig, all right? RIP to Don Rickles, the only Donald with skin thick enough to take a joke like that. RIP to the legend.
I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That’s my only — that’s my only Trump joke. I was explicitly told not to go after the administration, I promise you that’s my only Trump joke. Believe me.
It is amazing to be surrounded by some of the greatest journalists in the world and, yet, when we all checked into the Hilton on Friday we all got a USA Today.
Every time a USA Today slides underneath my door, it’s like they’re saying, “Hey, you’re not that smart, right?”
USA Today is what happens when the coupon section takes over the newspaper. Is this an article about global warming or 50 cents off Tide? Either way, the pictures are so pretty.
Tonight is about defending the First Amendment and the free press, and I am truly honored to be here, even though all of Hollywood pulled out. Now that King Joffrey is president, it feels like the Red Wedding in here. For the record, the WHCA is a group of journalists; they are not King Joffrey’s goons.
Okay, listen, I get it. I get it. We gotta 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. It is a very long flight. It’d be hard for Vlad to make it. Vlad can’t just make it on a Saturday. It’s a Saturday.
As for the other guy, I think he’s in Pennsylvania because he can’t take a joke. Now, for the nine people watching on C-SPAN, there also was another elephant in the room, but Donald Trump Jr. shot it and cut off its tail.
You know, a lot of people told me, “Hasan, if you go after the administration, it would be petty, unfair and childish.” In other words, presidential, so here we go.
I get why Donald Trump didn’t want to be roasted tonight. By the looks of him, he has been roasting nonstop for the past 70 years.
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.
Now, a lot of people in the media say that Donald Trump goes golfing too much. You guys are always like, “He goes golfing too much,” which raises a very important question: Why do you care? Do you want to know what he is doing when he’s golfing? Being president. Let the man putt-putt. Keep him distracted. Teach him how to play badminton. Tell him he has a great body for bobsledding. Play him tic-tac-toe. The longer you keep him distracted, the longer we are not at war with North Korea. Every time he goes golfing, the headline should read:
Take the W.
This is great. I love this. Even if you guys groan, I’ve already hired Kellyanne Conway. She’s going to go on TV Monday and tell everybody that I killed, so it really doesn’t matter. But I love that everybody is drinking, having a good time. This is beautiful.
You know that Donald Trump doesn’t drink, right? Does not touch alcohol, which is oddly respectable. But think about that. That means every statement, every interview, every tweet — completely sober.
How is that possible? We’ve all had that excuse, haven’t we? Been like, “I said what? No, listen, babe, I swear to you I was hammered. That’s not who I really am.” What does Donald Trump tell Melania? “Listen, babe, last year on that bus with Billy Bush? That’s exactly who I am.”
He tweets at 3 a.m. sober. Who is tweeting at 3 a.m. sober? Donald Trump. Because it’s 10 a.m. in Russia; those are business hours.
You know, now that a professional wrestler is our president, anything is possible. You know that statement ‘anything is possible,’ used to have a positive connotation? Anything is possible! Now, we’re all like, “Anything is possible.” Anything. The news coming out of the White House is so stressful, I’ve been watching House of Cards just to relax. I’m just like, “Oh, man. A congressman pushed a journalist in front of a moving train? That’s quaint.”
Now, it’s not just the president who decided not to show up. His entire administration is not here. Betsy DeVos couldn’t be here; she’s busy curating her collection of children’s tears. Now, a lot of people think Betsy DeVos is out of touch with working-class America, but you listen to me, and you listen to me right now: Every morning, Betsy DeVos is up at 5 a.m., putting her children on their flight to school. So don’t you tell me she’s out of touch, okay?
Hey, has anyone seen Rick Perry since he became energy secretary? I have a feeling he’s sitting in a room full of plutonium, waiting to become Spider-Man. That’s just my hunch.
Now a lot of people think Steve Bannon is the reason Donald Trump dog-whistles to racists. That is just not true. Ask Steve Bannon. Is Steve Bannon here? I do not see Steve Bannon. I do not see Steve Bannon. Not see Steve Bannon. Nazi Steve Bannon. Nazi Steve Bannon.
Frederick Douglass isn’t here, and that’s because he’s dead. Someone please tell the president.
Mike Pence wanted to be here tonight, but his wife wouldn’t let him because apparently one of you ladies is ovulating. Sooo … good job, ladies. Because of you, we couldn’t hang out with Mike Pence.
Now, Ivanka Trump isn’t here, either, and I wish she was. Because if she was here, I would ask her the question we’re all thinking: Why? Why do you support this man? ’Cause I get it. We all love our parents. But we wouldn’t endorse them for president.
If someone was like, “Hey, Hasan, should your dad be president of the United States?” I’d be like, “My dad, Najme Minhaj? The guy who tries to return used underwear to Costco? No.”
Jeff Sessions couldn’t be here tonight. He was busy doing a pre-Civil War reenactment. On his RSVP, he just wrote no — just no, which happens to be his second-favorite N-word.
You know, even Hillary Clinton couldn’t be here tonight. Hillary Clinton couldn’t — I mean she could have been here, but I think someone told her that the event was in Wisconsin and Michigan. What? What? You guys, Nate Silver told me that joke would kill. Nate Silver told me there was a 74.1 percent chance of that joke killing. I believed you, Nate. Did you hear that groan, Nate? I can’t believe I believed you, man.
Okay, enough about House Slytherin, we are here to talk about the truth. It is 2017, and we are living in the golden age of lying. Now is the time to be a liar, and Donald Trump is liar in chief. And remember you guys are public enemy Number 1. You are his biggest enemy. Journalists, ISIS, normal-length ties.
And somehow, you’re the bad guys. That’s why you have to keep your foot on the gas. Especially with Sean Spicer, who is not here tonight because I think he is at home googling how to fake his own death. But I love it when you give it to Sean Spicer. Sean Spicer gives press briefings like someone is going through his browser history while he watches.
Just panic. Like, “No, wait, stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop shaking your head. Stop shaking your head. Stop shaking your head. We’ll talk about this tomorrow.” It is the best.
Now, you guys are laughing, but realize Sean Spicer has been doing PR since 1999. He has been doing this job for 18 years, and somehow after 18 years his go-to move when you ask him a tough question is denying the Holocaust. That is insane. How many people do you know that can turn a press briefing into a full-on Mel Gibson traffic stop? Only the Spice man. Only the Spice man.
You know what’s crazy? Every day on the Daily Show, we do these jokes all of the time. We’re like: “The administration lies. Trump flip-flops.” It doesn’t matter. His supporters still trust him. It has not stopped his momentum at all. It’s almost as if the Daily Show should be on C-SPAN. It has left zero impact. It’s true. And I realized something: Maybe it is because we are living in this strange time where trust is more important than truth.
Supporters of President Trump trust him, and I know journalists, you guys, are definitely trying to do good work. I just think a lot of people don’t trust you right now, and can you blame them? I mean unlike Anderson Cooper’s bone structure, you guys have been far from perfect.
Remember election night? I mean, that was your Steve Harvey Miss Universe moment. The look on your faces at 11 p.m. on election night. It was like walking into a Panera Bread and finding out your sixth-grade teacher has a part-time job there. I was like what? Mr. Leddington? I guess you don’t have all the answers.
It was all fun and games with Obama, right? You were covering an adult who could speak English. And now you’re covering President Trump, so you have to take your game to a whole new level. It’s like a bunch of stripper cops have to solve a real-life murder.
Fox News is here. I’m amazed you guys even showed up. How are you here in public? It’s hard to trust you guys when you backed a man like Bill O’Reilly for years. But it finally happened. Bill O’Reilly has been fired. But then, you gave him a $25 million severance package, making it the only package he won’t force a woman to touch.
Now, in O’Reilly’s defense, he was told by a close friend: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.”
You guys are having a hard time with Jesse Watters right now, too. He’s on a break right now. Right, he’s on a break. Just like my childhood dog is staying on a farm upstate. I get it. I know that move.
Now, I know some of you are wondering, “Hasan, how do you know so much about Fox News?” As a Muslim, I like to watch Fox News for the same reason I like to play “Call of Duty.” Sometimes, I like to turn my brain off and watch strangers insult my family and heritage.
MSNBC is here tonight, and I’m glad you guys are here tonight. That way, if I’m bombing, Brian Williams will describe it as stunning. It’s hard to trust you guys when you sending us so many mixed messages. On the one hand, you tell us the prison-industrial complex is the problem, and then you air five straight hours of “Lockup.” You can’t be mad at corporations profiting off of minorities in prison when you’re a corporation profiting off of minorities in prison. It’s like …
I have one quick request: MSNBC, please tell Rachel Maddow to chill about Trump’s tax returns. I don’t know what you think you’ll find in there, but there’s isn’t going to be a line item that just says “bribes from Russia.” That’s not how it works. You’re going to be like: “Oh, I found the 1040. USSR.” It doesn’t work like that.
You’re the liberal news outlet. Look, we dress the same. I look like a melanin version of Chris Hayes. I want to root for you guys, but you’re turning into conspiracy theorists. Every night, you’re like: “The Russians hacked our elections. The Russians hacked our elections.”
Meanwhile, everybody in Latin America and the Middle East is like: “Ah, a foreign government tampered with your elections? What is that like? Do tell, MSNBC.”
Just pump the brakes. We’re only on Day 100. By the end of the year, you’re all going to have tinfoil hats and jars of urine all over your desks.
Now, I had a lot more MSNBC jokes, but I don’t want to just ramble on; otherwise, I might get a show on MSNBC.
Last but not least, my favorite entertainment channel is in the building tonight. CNN is here, baby. Now, you guys got some really weird trust issues going on with the public. I’m not going to call you fake news, but everything isn’t breaking news. You can’t go to Defcon 1 just because Sanjay Gupta found a new moisturizer. Every time a story breaks, you guys go to nine screens. Nine boxes on the screen. I’m trying to watch the news, not pick a player in “Street Fighter.” It’s giving me anxiety. If you have nine experts on a panel, what is your barrier of entry?
Here to talk about transportation infrastructure is my Uber driver, Gary. Gary, what have you got? It just says, “Gary, 4.8 stars.” He’s like: “I don’t know. I got a mint.” “Thanks, Gary. Let’s go to the countdown clock to the next countdown clock.
All you guys do is stoke up conflict. Don, every time I watch your show, it feels like I am watching a reality-TV show. “CNN Tonight” should just be called “Wait a Second. Now Hold On. Stop Yelling at Each Other,” with Don Lemon.
You know you’re news right? Come on. But every time I watch CNN, it feels like you’re assigning me homework. “Is Trump a Russian spy? I don’t know. You tell me. Tweet us @AC360.” No, you tell me. I’m watching the news. But it feels like I’m watching CNN watch the news. Please just take an hour, figure out what you want to say. Then go on the air.
But whenever I turn you guys on, it feels like a little kid just ran into the room and is trying to tell you a story. You’re just like: “There’s a wall. [Inaudible]Paul Ryan.” Breathe. Take a minute. Drink some milk. Then tell us the story, Wolf.
I know I’m busting balls. I don’t have a solution on how to win back trust. I don’t. But in the age of Trump, I know that you guys have to be more perfect now more than ever. Because are you are how the president gets his news. Not from advisers, not from experts, not from intelligence agencies, you guys. So that’s why you gotta be on your A-game. You gotta be twice as good. You can’t make any mistakes. Because when one of you messes up, he blames your entire group. And now you know what it feels like to be a minority.
And I see some of you guys complaining. Like, “What? I gotta work twice as hard for half the credit?” Remember, you’re a minority. You guys have a lot more experience than me, but I got three decades of being brown, so if you want to survive the age of Trump, you got to think like a minority. And now that you’re a minority, oh man, everyone is going to expect you to be a mouthpiece for the entire group.
So, I hate to say it, but somewhere, right now, all of you are being represented by Geraldo Rivera. See now that you are truly a minority, there’s a distorted version of you out there. You know, Taco Bell for Mexican culture. Panda Express for Chinese culture. Huffington Post for journalism.
And then, when you actually manage to do great work, you get hit with the most condescending line in the English language: “Hey, you’re actually one of the good ones.” Then you have to smile and say thank you. Kind of sucks, doesn’t it?
By the way, you guys aren’t really minorities; you guys are super white. But, but — I could see MSNBC being like, “We got our minority card.” No. But your work is invaluable. I mean that as a fake journalist. I am rooting for you. We are 100 days in; 1,360 days to go.
You guys are running the marathon, and I’m at the half-mile mark giving you tape for your nipples.
So I’m wishing you nothing but the best. You chafed, Van? You a little chafed? It’s a long way to go.
This has been one of the strangest events I have ever done in my life. I’m being honest with you. I feel like I am a tribute in the Hunger Games. Like, if this goes poorly, Steve Bannon gets to eat me.
But I was asked to not roast the president and the administration, in absentia, and I completely understand that. We are in a very strange situation where there is a very combative relationship between the press and the president. But now that you guys are minorities — just for this moment — you might understand the position I was in. And it’s the same position a lot of minority kids feel in this country. And it’s, you know, do I come up here and just try to fit in and not ruffle any feathers? Or do I say how I really feel?
Because this event is about celebrating the First Amendment and free speech. Free speech is the foundation of an open and liberal democracy, from college campuses to the White House.
Only in America can a first-generation, Indian American Muslim kid get on the stage and make fun of the president. The orange man behind the Muslim ban. And it’s a sign to the rest of the world. It’s this amazing tradition that shows the entire world that even the president is not beyond the reach of the First Amendment.
And he’ll be doing that completely sober. And that’s his right. And I’m proud that all of us are here tonight to defend that right, even if the man in the White House never would. So, I would like to thank the White House Correspondents’ Association for having me here. I want to thank all of you. I want to thank Woodward and Bernstein for inspiring a generation of journalists.
And I would like to thank Donald Trump for inspiring the next. Thank you so much. It’s been an honor. Good night. I love you. Thank you.