But Obama touched on serious themes as well, remembering The New York Times’ Anthony Shadid and Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times of London who died while covering the uprising in Syria.
“Never forget that our country depends on you to help protect our freedom, our democracy and our way of life,” Obama said.
Then he returned to the lighter side: “I have to get the Secret Service home in time for their new curfew.”
Kimmel, the night’s featured entertainer, asked Obama: “You remember when the country rallied around you in hopes of a better tomorrow? That was hilarious.”
“There’s a term for guys like President Obama,” Kimmel said with a pause. “Probably not two terms.”
Proceeds from the dinner go toward scholarships for aspiring journalists and awards for distinction in the profession.
The association was formed in 1914 as a liaison between the press and the president. Every president since Calvin Coolidge has attended the dinner.
Several journalists were also honored at the dinner:
— Matt Apuzzo, Adam Goldman, Eileen Sullivan and Chris Hawley of The Associated Press, for winning the Edgar A. Poe Award for their stories about the New York City Police Department’s widespread surveillance of Muslims after the Sept. 11 terror attacks. It’s the fourth major prize for the series, which has also won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting, the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting and a George Polk Award.
— ABC’s Jake Tapper and Politico’s Glenn Thrush, Carrie Budoff Brown, Manu Raju and John Bresnahan, for winning the Merriman Smith Award for excellence in presidential coverage under pressure. Tapper won in the broadcast category for breaking the news that rating agency Standard & Poor’s was on the verge of downgrading the federal government’s triple-A credit rating because of concerns over political gridlock in Washington. In the print category, Thrush, Budoff Brown, Raju and Bresnahan of Politico won for their report on the deal between Obama and congressional Republicans to raise the U.S. debt ceiling.
— Scott Wilson, of The Washington Post, for winning the Aldo Beckman award. Wilson was recognized for his “deeply reported and nuanced stories, his evocative writing and his clear presentation of complex issues, particularly on the foreign policy front.”