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CNN LIVE EVENT/SPECIAL
The White House Correspondents' Dinner. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired April 25, 2015 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:08] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The tables are set. The jokes are written. And the red carpet is buzzing.
I'm Poppy Harlow. Stick with us for D.C.'s most glamorous night of the year.
HARLOW (voice-over): Tonight, Hollywood's hottest celebrities are sharing the spotlight with Washington, D.C.'s biggest star.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hello, Mr. President.
HARLOW: We're giving you a VIP invitation to the most exclusive party of the year in the nation's capital.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, you're partying. I was impressed.
HARLOW: Join A-list celebrities and Hollywood stars as they wine and dine with America's power players.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sort of the clash of Hollywood and politics. What am I going to regret I said tomorrow morning?
HARLOW: It's a nice of all-out glamour and lots of laughs with SNL's Cecily Strong headlining the night.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's sort of known as a tough room.
HARLOW: But the best punch lines may come from the president as he pokes fun at the top names in entertainment, the media and politics.
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These days, the House of Republicans actually gives John Boehner a harder time than they give me, which means orange really is the new black.
HARLOW: Now, the red carpet is out for a star-studded celebration at the heart of power. This is CNN's coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
HARLOW: Hi, everyone. Welcome to the program. It is Saturday night, and it's going to be a great Saturday night for us as we cover the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
You could say the center of power in Washington is the White House on most days but right now, the concentration of political power and celebrity power is at the Washington Hilton. Politicians, journalists, celebrities, tech titans, even YouTube stars are all taking their turn on the red carpet to unwind and to be entertained by, who else, the president himself.
Good evening. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. Welcome to CNN's special coverage of the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.
With me this evening, I've got quite the group. I'm glad they're here.
Comedian D.L. Hughley, CNN commentator and conservative strategist Tara Setmayer, former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, reporter Patrick Gavin who recently spent a year looking at this iconic events, all the good, the bad and ugly of it, and he has just released a documentary called "Nerd Prom: Inside Washington's Wildest Week." Also with me, my very good friend and CNN Money tech correspondent Laurie Segall. She's going to be looking at the social media component of all of this throughout the evening.
And tonight, you're gong to see some of the funniest comedians doing their best political comedy over the years, at this dinner. You're going to hear some of the best jokes bar none from presidents past and present. Also, you're going to hear the jokes that fell pretty flat.
But this hour, it is all about the glam so let's get right down to the glamorous Brianna Keilar, my good friend who joins us on the red carpet.
You could not look more stunning, Bri, and you definitely have the better gig, because you are on the red carpet.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: This is insane here, Poppy. I have to tell you, covering the red carpet here at the White House Correspondents' Dinner, this is arguably the biggest night in Washington, maybe second to an inauguration, but that happens only once every four years.
So, just look around me. This place is teeming with celebrities, their entourages, a lot of politicos, politicians. This is the night when Washington collides with Hollywood.
And I did catch up with one of the biggest stars at CNN, the new face of CNN Sunday and "STATE OF THE UNION," our Sunday program, Jake Tapper.
KEILAR: CNN Sunday.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, yes.
KEILAR: And your beautiful wife, Jen Tapper.
JAKE TAPPER: Most importantly.
JEN TAPPER, JAKE'S WIFE: Happily, yes. Hello.
JAKE TAPPER: This is the last Saturday night we'll have because of the Sunday show.
KEILAR: Exactly. So, he'll be working seven days a week. What do you think about that?
JEN TAPPER: I think we'll power through it.
JAKE TAPPER: We'll figure out a way to make it work.
JEN TAPPER: It's going to be an exciting year.
JAKE TAPPER: Yes, it's going to be a great race.
KEILAR: It really is.
So, who are you guys excited to see?
JAKE TAPPER: This is really it. This is the one -- this is what this night is about, this one right here. So --
KEILAR: OK. So, spending time with your wife for your last free Saturday. And he brings you to the big shin dig in Washington. But which celebrities do you want to see tonight?
JEN TAPPER: Who's coming tonight?
KEILAR: Cecily Strong.
JEN TAPPER: Yes, we saw her from afar last night, and we expect a lot of feminist, funny comedy coming from her. I hope she does it.
This event lacks feminine comedy. So, I'll be looking forward to that.
JAKE TAPPER: We haven't had a lot of women comediennes. Wanda Sykes and that's all I can think of.
KEILAR: That's right. That was several years ago. Is that surprising to you?
[19:05:00] JAKE TAPPER: No, because a lot more male comedians than female, but it will be good to see what she does. Also, Taya Kyle is here, Chris Kyle's widow. I interviewed her. So, I'm psyched to see her again.
KEILAR: And we think Bradley Cooper, who played Chris Kyle is coming.
JAKE TAPPER: That's the hope. I want to talk about the Eagles with him. We have lots of concerns. He's a fellow Philadelphian. So, we've got problems going on with our team right now. KEILAR: OK. So, judging from last -- let's judge from last White House Correspondents' Dinner, who do you think will be funnier, Cecily Strong or President Obama?
JAKE TAPPER: The president is almost always funnier than the comedian. There have been a few exceptions. I thought Seth Meyers was good, Jimmy Kimmel was good. But for the most part, the president gets the best jokes. He has more writers working for him to deliver the best jokes.
KEILAR: Which is amazing, considering, right?
JAKE TAPPER: Well, so many comedians want to help the president because so many are liberal. So, yes, maybe not that surprising.
KEILAR: All right. Well, you guys have a great night. Enjoy your last Saturday night free together.
JAKE TAPPER: Thank you. You're the second most beautiful woman I've seen here tonight.
JEN TAPPER: Yes, I was about to say that.
KEILAR: Thank you. Just second, but I'll take it.
KEILAR: All right. I'm here now with another big star of "Orange is the New Black," the new season coming out June 12th.
You just won an Emmy, Laverne Cox. Tell me about that.
LAVERNE COX, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK: I'm still -- I kind of can't believe it. Laverne Cox, a documentary I produced for, executive produced for MTV and Logo won a daytime Emmy last night. I am so proud of the seven young people, Daniela (ph), Kai (ph), Avery (ph), Ari (ph), Zoey (ph), oh, my God, I'm forgetting name, Luray (ph), and Shane (ph).
COX: Who came forward and told their stories so beautifully and so truthfully and trusted us. Thank you so much.
KEILAR: You have broken a ceiling as a transgender actor. And big news today as we hear Bruce Jenner coming out as a woman saying that he has struggled with a transgender identity since childhood. You talked to Bruce. Tell me a little bit about sort of the process that Bruce is going through and also the advice you gave Bruce.
COX: I think a lot of people tuned in last night to this special, sort of a media spectacle and they saw a beautiful human being who is a parent who deeply cares about their family. I always believed any transgender person who comes forward to tell their story and live visibly is a deeply into revolutionary thing in a world that tells us that transpeople shouldn't exist. So, I feel that Bruce is deeply courageous. When we spoke today,
again, they were concern about their family and how they impact them, and also, they really wanted to come forward to hopefully make a different, to make a change and hopefully save lives so the other transperson have to go through the turmoil that they had to go through.
KEILAR: And it's something that you have done as well for the community.
Thank you so much, Laverne Cox. I hope you have a wonderful evening. You've been one of the most popular celebrities here on this group line. Thanks for talking to us here at CNN.
COX: Thank you very much.
KEILAR: So, big night, Poppy. You can just see this place is crawling with some really big names.
HARLOW: Have a blast. We're going to come back to you throughout the evening, Brianna Keilar.
Peter Hamby is going to join us in a little bit. Very cool to hear from Laverne Cox, and a very important message to send.
Let's talk about what this evening means, because, of course, there's the glam and celebrities. There's also a lot of politics going on as always. So, let's bring our guests back in.
To you, Patrick. Let me begin with you. So, you just wrote, directed, filmed, did all of it for your documentary all about tonight.
PATRICK GAVIN, FILMMAKER, "NERD PROM": Yes.
HARLOW: The nerd prom. Before we get into the criticism of it, walk me through what people can expect this evening.
GAVIN: Well, obviously, once everybody kind of leaves that red carpet, they head into the Washington Hilton, mingle around, get a couple of drinks. Eventually, they will ask the crowd to quiet down, they bring out the president and the first lady, they get introduced.
Eventually, they announce the scholarship winners. The president of the association will make remarks. They'll give out some journalism awards. Then you have dinner for an hour or so. Then, the real business begins, which is the president and Cecily Strong.
HARLOW: Let's remind people of the history of this. This is an 80- plus year event, and this was started for our viewers watching who think this is like the Oscars -- no, this was started by journalists for journalists to maintain access to the White House, when that access was threatened.
GAVIN: That's right. It started actually -- this is the 101st anniversary of the association that throws the dinner that started -- HARLOW: The 84th dinner.
GAVIN: Right. 1921 was the first. Back then it was 50 people, all white men. Now, it's 2,600 people.
HARLOW: I'm glad they let the women in.
GAVIN: It's about five days of parties, about two dozens of them. So, the dinner is the hub of the wheel but hardly the only thing going on this weekend. And as you can tell, it's hard to look at that picture and think access and White House correspondents are the real focus. It's kind of moved on.
[19:10:00] HARLOW: Right, a lot of celebrities. Look, if you're not there, we're not there but we're having fun around it in New York, you can be there frankly through social media.
Laurie, you've been watching what people are saying on social media. What are they buzzing about?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: I think first of all I should introduce the hashtag that people use, and it's #nerdprom. I'm right on this one, Patrick.
SEGALL: So, #nerdprom. So, there have been some really funny tweets coming in.
But one thing that's so interesting to me this year are the social stars. So, the idea that you see all these celebrities and see people tweeting about them. There are a couple of people going all sitting at Arianna Huffington, editor in chief of "Huffington Post", they're sitting at her table, and they are people like Tyler Oakley and these are YouTube activists, people who have a huge following.
So, they're all beginning to walk the red carpet now. These are people that people will look at and may not take pictures of. They have no idea who these people are. But when they tweet, you've got millions of followers.
Let's go to the red carpet. Brianna Keilar is with the one and only Wolf Blitzer and his lovely guest.
I see you have other ladies there. You have Jane Fonda and you have Marie Harf.
KEILAR: That's right.
OK, so I have to tell you, Poppy, Wolf Blitzer has been in the habit of bringing on his arms around two lovely lady guests to the White House Correspondents' Dinner here for the last couple of years. I once got to do that, that was pretty fun.
This is Marie Harf, of course, a spokeswoman for the State Department, our very own Wolf Blitzer and Jane Fonda.
So, you're here as a guest of CNN. This is quite the spectacle. I'm sure you've been here before, right?
JANE FONDA, ACTRESS: I have, yes. And I've known Wolf since 1991.
KEILAR: OK. So, what do you think about this event? And also how it's changed over the years since you first started coming?
FONDA: Well, we'll see. I'll see. Oh, it's the best party in the world.
KEILAR: So, the '90s was when it really started to blow up, when people would come and notable faces like yourself would start showing up.
Do you see a difference between then and now?
FONDA: I think as there is in every corner of life more emphasis on celebrity. I'm not sure it's good, but it is what it is.
KEILAR: Wolf, you've really outdone yourselves with your guests this year.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: It doesn't get any better than Jane Fonda. Can you believe I'm here with Jane Fonda? And Marie Harf, acting spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department? How cool is that?
KEILAR: So, Marie, I know in isn't exactly new to you, but this is a phenomenal event that really is second only to the inauguration. It's sort of an opportunity for Washington to get very I guess awestruck by celebrities. Anyone you're looking forward to seeing?
MARIE HARF, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESWOMAN: First, I was looking forward to meeting Jane Fonda, so that was really a dream come true.
FONDA: We've done selfies in the car.
HARF: Right. We've already done selfies in the car. But I also love seeing people who are in TV shows that are about D.C., the people on "Veep" or "Scandal," shows that are about what we do. It's kind of fun to meet them, too. So --
KEILAR: And it's also about a lot of people coming with a message, right? So many people are doing outstanding work, and they also want to talk about it. Do you have anything going on that you've been working on or I guess sort of admire in some of the folks who are here?
FONDA: I have a new series.
KEILAR: Tell me about it.
FONDA: It's a Netflix series called "Grace and Frankie." I co-star with Lily Tomlin. And it screens May 8th.
KEILAR: May -- oh, that's right around the corner. Oh, so we are so looking forward to seeing that.
All right. Wolf, final word about your expectations and can you talk about the fact that Cecily Strong is the host tonight? No doubt she's going to be hilarious. But we don't see a woman hosting this dinner very often.
BLITZER: Once in a while they do, but this is good. I think she's going to be really excellent. She's going o be funny. I anticipate a lot of laughs.
The president of the United States is pretty good with the jokes himself. So, it might be a fun night. You just want to relax and enjoy and see what happens.
KEILAR: All right. Jane, Wolf, Marie, thank you so much to all of you.
That was a very fun trio there, as you can see, Poppy.
HARLOW: You know, Wolf every year just outdoes himself with the guests, year after year after year.
Bri, thank you. That was fun.
And I can tell you, Cecily Strong is going to be hysterical. I interviewed her, the woman headlining tonight. We'll show you how she's preparing later in the program.
But, D.L., what do you like seeing so far?
D.L. HUGHLEY, COMEDIAN: I just like that I see a transgender person and an old white dude with two white women.
HARLOW: Is that old white dude Wolf Blitzer?
HARLOW: He's not that old.
TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Be specific, and it's --
HUGHLEY: It makes me feel like, I don't know what kind of party this is. I'm like, am I missing it by not being there? You can clearly tell that the country has changed and evolved, and you can tell by the people who attend these kind of things. You could have never imagined seeing the star of "Orange is the New Black" at a function with so many political people as well as writers together. It's really nice to see that we're growing up. It's kind of fun.
HARLOW: Amen to that.
All right. Guys, stick around. We're going to take a quick break and continue with our coverage because the dinner hasn't even started yet. [19:15:01] The red carpet is certainly still buzzing as you can see.
We're going to talk no more Hollywood A-listers ahead, plenty of politicians as well.
I did sit down with the woman of the night, Cecily Strong, hosting the dinner, giving her speech, making some of those pointed jokes. What does she think about performing before this crowd?
Stay with us.
HARLOW: Some are calling President Barack Obama the funniest president. You be the judge. Is he? Here are some of his best jokes from past dinners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks are saying that with my sagging poll numbers, my fellow Democrats don't really want me campaigning with them. And I don't think that's true, although I did notice the other day that Sasha needed a speaker at career day and she invited Bill Clinton.
I was -- I was a little hurt by that.
I am not giving up. In fact, I'm taking my charm offensive on the road. A Texas barbecue with Ted Cruz, Kentucky Bluegrass concert with Rand Paul, and a book burning with Michele Bachmann.
One senator who has reached across the aisle recently is Marco Rubio, but I don't know about 2016.
[19:20:02] I mean, the guy has not even finished a single term in the Senate and he thinks he's ready to be president.
Kids these days.
Despite many obstacles, much has changed during my time in office. Four years ago, I was locked in a brutal primary battle with Hillary Clinton. Four years later, she won't stop drunk-texting me from Cartagena.
Four years ago, I was a Washington outsider. Four years later, I'm at this dinner.
Four years ago, I looked like this. Today I look like this. And four years from now, I will look like this. (LAUGHTER)
Donald Trump is here tonight.
Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately. But no one is happier, no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald. And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?
Good evening. You know, Ed's right, I work a lot. So I wasn't sure that I should actually come tonight. Biden talked me into it. He leaned over, and he said, "Mr. President, this is no ordinary dinner. This is a big (BLEEP) meal."
Good evening, everybody. I would like to welcome you all to the 10- day anniversary of my first 100 days. I am Barack Obama. Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.
(END VIDEO CLIPS)
HARLOW: He's pretty funny. But can Cecily Strong be funnier? That is her challenge tonight, certainly.
Let's go back to Brianna Keilar on the red carpet.
Bri, I'm so jealous because I was a figure skater my whole life and you got some of my idols.
KEILAR: Oh my goodness, I have two skiing phenoms, Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir.
And they our anchor, Poppy Harlow, back in New York ice skated as a child, and you guys are a huge inspiration to her.
So, this is your first time at the dinner. What are your expectations?
TARA LIPINSKI, FIGURE SKATER: My heart has been pounding. This is so out of our realm. But I'm so honored and so excited to be here.
JOHNNY WEIR, FIGURE SKATER: It's so special to be here to celebrate media and to really just enjoy each other's company, to all be on the same team for a night. It's so special. I know Tara wants to do her flying squirrel.
LIPINSKI: I need to meet the president. This is the thing, I'm going to be that girl that's like, hi!
WEIR: Hi. KEILAR: So, what would you say to him? You have to have thought about that.
LIPINSKI: No, I haven't, because If I rehearse it, it will be awkward and weird. So I'm just going with it.
WEIR: I feel like boxers or briefs definitely comes to my mind.
LIPINSKI: That's a Johnny question.
WEIR: That's a Johnny question.
KEILAR: OK, so if you ask him that and he gives you an answer, are you going to put it on your amazing Instagram account so we'll all know what he told you?
LIPINSKI: Immediately. You will see it all.
KEILAR: So I fell in love with you two during the Olympics, watching your Instagram accounts. You are hilarious, your little videos and pictures. You have a joint account as well. But what I wanted to know because I thought this during the Olympics, why don't they have a show together? Tell us. Tell us.
WEIR: Well, you know, we work so much. We did the super bowl this year for NBC. We of course worked during the Kentucky derby. We have a lot of fun that way. But I can't say that we're not working on our own project together.
LIPINSKI: Yes, it might be exciting.
KEILAR: OK, Washington speak, we would say, he's neither confirming nor denying. So, we'd like to take that as a year, but we'll also --
KEILAR: You can't say no.
WEIR: But we can wink.
KEILAR: News made right here on CNN.
OK, you guys have such a wonderful time.
[19:25:02] Thanks for talking to us here on CNN.
LIPINSKI: Thank you.
WEIR: Thank you.
KEILAR: OK, Poppy. I'm nerding out because I'm such a huge fan of them. I'm glad you are, too.
HARLOW: I'm so jealous! I'm super duper jealous, increasingly jealous by the minute, Bri. Yes, I love them, and I agree they should definitely have a show and it should be here on CNN. We'll get back to you in just a minute, Brianna.
Let's go to Laurie, because as we were talking about earlier, social media is huge. If you can't be at the dinner you can sort of feel like you're at the dinner from our coach. What are we seeing on social media?
SEGALL: Well, we've been monitoring what our viewer are looking at what people are tweeting from the red carpet, obviously lots of celebrities. You got Jessie Tyler Ferguson, you got -- my own favorite celebrity, Don Lemon, folks from "|True Detective".
And everyone, you know, I think part of this thing is you get to the red carpet, you tweet with a hashtag, your tweet kind of goes viral. That's how everyone knows you're there. You weren't there if you didn't tweet. That's how things go.
There was also someone interesting, a social media star, the second most followed person on Vine. So --
SEGALL: He has 11 million followers. Less than Obama, probably less than Taylor Swift but a lot.
HARLOW: Some people would give anything to have that kind of following.
SEGALL: I mean, you think about it. You look at why Washington is now caring about some of these people who are like Snapchat celebrities. I can't even believe I'm saying Snapchat celebrity. There's a talent agency?
HUGHLEY: Say it three times.
SEGALL: You'll have a field day. There's a talent agency now for Vine stars and Snapchat stars. You can see why they're invited to the dinner this year.
HARLOW: You certainly can.
HUGHLEY: I still can't see why they're invited.
HARLOW: D.L. is not on this train.
HUGHLEY: It's not being skeptical. I don't know how that is relevant.
But I think that, again, it's indicative of where we are as a nation and what we find important and what we find intriguing and what we're interested in. So, I think in that way, I guess it would make sense.
SETMAYER: Yes, but what concerns me about this -- and I know Patrick will probably agree -- is that it waters down what the dinner was supposed to be about.
SETMAYER: We can do the celebrity thing, but now when we start getting into Vine celebrities and Snapchat celebrities and whatever the next social media invent will be, you know, next year, I think let them have a different dinner for that. There are certain traditions and things that I think should maintain at least some journalistic integrity. We're losing that.
HARLOW: We're going to talk a lot about that all night. We'll play clips from Patrick's documentary which addresses just that. What is the dinner supposed to be about, and what has it become?
D.LL, hang on to that thought. We'll take a quick break and come back in a minute talking about, you know these shows, "Scandal", "Veep", "House of Cards", "Madam Secretary". These are all huge shows about our nation's capital, and they're all with celebrities on the red carpet tonight. What is America's fascination with political drama?
We'll talk about it, next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The only halfway interesting thing they do is throw a big dinner party once a year where they pat themselves in the back and rub shoulders with movie stars.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Of course, that's a fictional journalist Zoey Barnes from Netflix political drama, hit series "House of Cards" lamenting over Washington's version of the Academy Awards, which is under way right now.
But as fiction mirrors reality, tonight is already showing some of the hottest celebrities making their way to the big event, including "Veep's" Timothy Simon who is just accosted a short time ago by some of the stars from "House of Cards." Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFED MALE: The dumbest thing a politician --
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Stop talking! No one cares.
UNIDENTIFED MALE: You guys, I'm doing something very important. You guys, yes, OK, guys. Great, great. Thank you. Thank you. Very important stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you!
UNIDENTIFED MALE: Just some fans. Just some fans from the neighborhood. Just neighborhood D.C. kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: Just some fans. Let's talk about the close relationship between Hollywood and Washington. With my guests, Patrick Gavin, you did the documentary all about this. Where does this fascination with Washington come from in terms of all the celebrities that are -- it's a tough ticket to get. Is it because there are all these shows now that are doing so well, "Scandal," "House of Cards," et cetera?
HARLOW: Or are those shows because celebrities have always been interested in Washington?
GAVIN: I mean part of the reason celebrities are here, two reasons. One, I think they actually do enjoy going to dinner with the president. Some of them do actually play a role --
HARLOW: Them and 2600 other people.
GAVIN: Right. They probably think they're closer than they are. What's funny about all these TV shows, like "Scandal" or "Veep" or "House of Cards" is, you know, people in Washington can be very flattered by that. Look at all these great shows on TV. But you look at all of them, they portray Washington, D.C., horribly.
I mean, in "House of Cards," politicians are killing people, "Veep," I don't think you want a vice president like that vice president. I mean, maybe that's funny, but not that dysfunctional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We almost had one like that.
GAVIN: Those sort of shows, think about 15 years ago, it was "West Wing," which viewed Washington I think in very laudable terms but now these shows show us how the rest of the country views us. They're all funny, entertaining shows. But if it is at all reflective of the way Americans view us, that's really bad.
HARLOW: There hasn't been a "West Wing" since "West Wing," (INAUDIBLE) in such a positive light.
HUGHLEY: The one thing I'll say about those shows is that they have characters that are somewhat redeemed. But a lot of political figures we have these days are craving. Like you couldn't write some of the things in the show that they actually say. You couldn't write it.
HARLOW: You think real Washington is crazier than "House of Cards" Washington?
HUGHLEY: I think Michele Bachmann and some of the things -- I could pretend as if I wrote that and some of the things she says wouldn't even make television because people would think it's so absurd. But I think at least they have a redemptive quality. When you're talking about "West Wing," there was a stake to it. There was -- I think we wanted to be better than we actually were.
HUGHLEY: We wanted to --
HARLOW: What was the movie "The American President"?
HUGHLEY: Yes. Michael Douglas, right.
SETMAYER: Yes, I think there's a certain intrigue about Washington, D.C., because people are fascinated like, can this possibly be this dysfunctional and then people, so they try to make fun of it which is why I absolutely love "Veep." The writing is fantastic. (INAUDIBLE) my favourite writers, any way.
But they nail it. For people like us who are inside the beltway, folks who -- I spent 20 years in Washington. I can watch an episode of "Veep" five times and find another line, like, inside the beltway speak. But they're making fun of what goes on there, but a lot of it is actually pretty close to how things go, which is what makes it so fascinating and really, really good.
And with "House of Cards", it's like the same thing as people being fascinated with the mafia. The "Godfather" and "Goodfellas," you know, the mafia, they're a bunch of murderous sociopaths but there's a certain intrigue about the mafia. It's the same thing I think with Washington, D.C. people just want a glimpse inside of it, whether they think it's real or not. They feel as though they have a glimpse inside something that they may never experience.
HARLOW: Absolutely. We're going to talk more about it. We have to get right in because this dinner is about to start. We are seeing live pictures. Take a look, people are gathering around their tables. Those seats they fought so hard to get. The dinner is about to start. The best of the red carpet still to come. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Welcome back to our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Brianna Keilar has a great guest with her on the red carpet. Hey, Bri.
KEILAR: Hi, there, Poppy. I'm here with Donald Trump and his most beautiful wife, Melania. This is sort of an example of what this is all about, Hollywood running into politics a little bit. You're obviously toying with the idea of running for president. You all but said you would yesterday in Richmond. Tell us about that. Are you going to?
DONALD TRUMP, CEO: Well, we're looking at it very seriously. The country is going to hell. Such bad decisions are being made. We're not respected by anybody. I'll be making a decision very soon. We've had great response. I mean nobody thinks I'm going to run. That's the only thing.
KEILAR: Well, you've toyed with it before.
TRUMP: I looked at it before, but well, unfortunately Mitt Romney didn't carry the ball very well and he failed us. I don't think we want to see that happen again. Politicians are all talk. They're no action. Lots of problems for the country that can be easily solved, Brianna. So I'll make that decision June, July at the latest.
KEILAR: June, July at the latest. Why then?
TRUMP: It just seems to be an appropriate time.
KEILAR: OK. And so I guess as you're looking around, let's talk about something a little lighter. You're here to bump into some politicians. You're going to see the president tell some jokes. There are a lot of other celebrities here as well.
Who are you most excited to see -- let me ask you, Melania, who are you excited to see this evening? Or anyone that you have met that you hadn't met before maybe?
MELANIA TRUMP, MODEL: Well, I met a lot of people already. It's an exciting night. We will have a great time. Just to have fun.
KEILAR: Who do you think will be funnier, Cecily Strong or president Obama?
TRUMP: I think they'll both be good. When President Obama was doing the thing a few years ago with me, I thought it was very well delivered. Actually much better than a comedian. I thought he really did a good job. I think it's going to be great. I think it's going to be a fun evening. We'll have a good time.
KEILAR: He's mentioned you before. Do you think that could happen again?
TRUMP: Many times. I mean, I just don't know. Certainly he mentioned me a lot that night. And I had a great time. It's sort of interesting. I had this incredible time. Then the next day I woke up and the papers all said I was miserable, I didn't have a good time. I was saying to everybody, I love this. I mean, I was like a big focus. You know I like that. I did have a great time.
KEILAR: OK. We'll see if that repeats itself tonight. Thank you so much for coming tonight and for chatting with us.
MELANIA TRUMP: Thank you so much.
TRUMP: Hello, Jeff Zucker (ph).
KEILAR: He did say that he wanted to say hello to his friend, Jeff zucker, the head of CNN, Poppy.
I heard. HARLOW: But he didn't say hi to me, and I've interviewed Donald Trump before. Apparently he likes my boss more than me. I don't understand.
KEILAR: He couldn't hear you. That's all it was.
HARLOW: I won't take it personally. Thanks, Bri. Good interview. Maybe he'll run. We'll see June or July. Seems like a good time. Let's talk about it with our guests. What do you think, D.L. Hughley?
HUGHLEY: Having a Donald Trump host a political event is like having (INAUDIBLE) host a spelling bee -- stop. Stop. It's a shame to be the last one -- like my job is to make people laugh. That's the gig. He doesn't get that he does it anyway. He can't be that tone deaf.
HARLOW: (INAUDIBLE) but that was very interesting guys. I mean, he said, the headlines were that last year when President Obama made fun of him, the look on his face. But we only saw a snap shot. That was not the whole evening. He said he had a ball. All of us got it wrong. The press got it wrong last time.
SETMAYER: Of course he's going to say that. He's not going to say he was seething and how dare the president go after him like that.
HARLOW: He came back.
SETMAYER: Well, of course. He admitted himself he likes this. He likes to be in front of the cameras, likes being the focus and center of attention. Usually if he's in control of it though, which he was not at the time last year. I don't care what he says. He was not happy in those shots.
He doesn't realize that CSPAN has roving cameras where you see people you don't necessarily know. I don't think he realized the camera was on him as long as it was. We all saw that. Donald Trump is a good PR guy, knows how to spin things. He can say whatever he wants but this whole flirting with I'm going to run, maybe I won't. He's done this many times before and it continues to give him a platform to say what he wants to politically so he keeps flirting with the idea and people keep giving him airtime.
I don't really see him running for president, but he would much rather flirt with the idea and keep himself at the center of attention.
HUGHLEY: I will just add, anybody in that room who gets made fun of that doesn't like it is lying.
SETMAYER: That's right.
GAVIN: Getting the president of the United States to even mention your name, I mean, you made it, that's a huge status. You know, people in that room, who say he hurt my feelings, stop it. It's the highlight of your life.
HUGHLEY: Name me one joke Donald Trump ever told at his own expense. That's how you can tell if somebody is enjoying it. They have a level of (INAUDIBLE).
HARLOW: It's interesting because one of President Obama's speech writer is going to be joining us a little bit later. Jon Favreau said the president always insists on having self-deprecating jokes. It's interesting. We'll definitely see some of those tonight. Laura, what's your impression?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's interesting. He always makes for a very, very good segment. He always says interesting things that people love to talk about it.
HARLOW: Very diplomatic, Laura (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
HARLOW: We want to know what you think. Tell us what you think about Donald Trump and a possible run for president. Tweet us, of course. But also we want to know what you think about who the funniest president is at these things. President Clinton, Bush, or President Obama. You can tweet us your response at #CNNvote.
Also you can go online to cnnpolitics.com. We'll reveal your answer later. Who is the funniest president?
Well, you think the president has a tough job with his speeches. Wait until you hear what the comedians have to say about it. Speaking of the president, we are just moments away from his grand entrance here at the Annual White House Correspondents' dinner. We'll bring you that as soon as it happens. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Welcome back to our special coverage of the White House Correspondents' Dinnder. So consider this, right -- you're an up and coming comedian, you're at the top of your game and you get the call -- the call, to speak at the White House Correspondents' dinner in front of, you know, just the leader of the free world and 2600 other people and the rest of the world watching. It's a dream come true, right?
Maybe not, according to our Brian Selter. Here's his story.
BRIAN SELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every spring the White House Correspondents' Dinner is the hottest tickets in Washington. One of the big draws, the hosts, who roasts the president and many of the politicians in the room.
Jimmy Kimmel hosted back in 2012 and said it's not your run of the mill gig. JIMMY KIMMEL: You have a very unusual mix of people sitting in the room with the president and all the top people in media, and then you hire some bafoon to come in and entertain. In a way you feel like you've been commanded by the king to be the court jester or something.
SELTER: Well, before Stephen Colbert was tapped to host the late show, the comedian performed one of the most memorable and controversial roasts ever back in 2006. The target, President Bush.
STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: I stand by this man. I stand by this man because he stands for things. Not only for things, he stands on things. Things like aircraft carriers and rubble and recently flooded city squares. And that sends a strong message that no matter what happens to America, she will always rebound with the most powerfully staged photo-ops in the world.
SELTER: Another Comedy Central star, Jon Stewart, hosted the dinner back in 1997, long before he was a household name.
JON STEWART, "THE DAILY SHOW" HOST: Congratulations in order to Mr. Greenspan and Andrea Mitchell were married. That's excellent news. Ms. Mitchell you must be thrilled. I mean in the (INAUDIBLE) of journalism, how would you not be swept off your feet by the electrifying charisma of a veteran economist?
SELTER: Last year's host David Mckale told David Letterman how he prepared for the dinner and also grilled the "Late Night" host.
DAVID MCKALE: I called everyone I knew. I called everyone who has done it. Why haven't you done it?
DAVID LETTERMAN, "LATE NIGHT" HOST: I thought about it. I was invited. They were nice enough years and years ago to invite me and I just thought, I can't get this done.
SELTER: Jay Leno has hosted the dinner four times, more than any one else but was criticized for recycling jokes from the "Tonight Show" at his most recent appearance in 2010.
JAY LENO: Well, you know, I tell you something, a lot of critics felt that President Bush did a better job getting the ball over the plate. That's what they said but on the other hand, President Obama can talk. So I think it balances.
SELTER: Before being named the host of NBC's Late Night Seth Myers hosted the dinner back in 2011.
SETH MYERS: Donald Trump has said he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising, because I just assumed he was running as a joke.
SELTER: And prior to hosting, he told C-SPAN what he was looking forward to.
MYERS: Maybe a tough room, and somebody that follows politics, it's really exciting to go into a room where people are incredibly well informed. You can probably make jokes about the minutia of politics that wouldn't work on "Saturday Night Live" unless you had a bunch of setup before hand.
SELTER: Like Myers, the host this year also spent time at "Saturday Night Live's" weekend update desk.
Now as for whether Sicily strong will use material from her most famous character --
STRONG: Tell me true or false --
MYERS: About what?
SELTER: We will just have to wait and see.
Brian Selter, CNN, New York.
HARLOW: And you're going to see tonight how she does. I asked tonight's host Cecily Strong what her strategy and preparing for the big speech. That is ahead. Also her message to one of my very good friends here at CNN, Brooke Baldwin. We'll bring you that next and we'll take you back to the red carpet as we prepare for the White House Correspondent's dinner. Stay with us.
HARLOW: Welcome back to our special coverage of "The White House Correspondents' Dinner." I learned a little something in the commercial break, Mr. D.L. Hughley. I learned that you said no to hosting this dinner.
HUGHLEY: Well, because they wanted to know what jokes we were going to tell.
HARLOW: Who's they?
HUGHLEY: I don't know if it was him or his staff, but they wanted President Bush -- they want to have -- to us tell what jokes we were going to tell. The only reason to be in front of powerful people like that is to make them nervous. How could (INAUDIBLE) comedian who sees what goes on in the world knows that every time you turn around a black kid shot or every time we turn around somebody gets killed by a drone or every time you turn around some state is making some law harder for gay people to have a pizza and not --
HARLOW: You're a little exaggerating.
HUGHLEY: No, but I'm just say.
HARLOW: I get your point. HUGHLEY: Isn't that comedy? Comedy is exaggeration.
HARLOW: There you go.
HUGHLEY: It's supposed to make people (INAUDIBLE) to me, when Colbert did that, that's the only reason to do it is to make people --
HARLOW: So (INAUDIBLE) in 2006, Stephen Colbert really pushed the envelope and you saw some very uncomfortable moments between him and then President Bush. Some people loved it, some people hated it. Afterwards, they were worried about who goes the next year.
HUGHLEY: I can speak as comedians. We loved it. We loved the idea. If you're the same guy on stage in front of a concert as you are in front of the most powerful people in the world, that's a level of confidence. When you recognize yourself in either of those places, that's the only reason to do so.
HARLOW: Tara, what do you think we're going to hear from the president tonight?
SETMAYER: I think that the president will put on a good show. He has good comedic timing. In the past, he was funnier than Joe Mchale was last year. Actually. So I think that, you know, he's going to pop some fun at himself. Definitely he's going to go after journalists. That's what they do. I mean the whole thing is about self self- deprecation for the most part. So I'll be curious to see if he touches on any of the racial controversies that's going on or any of those things that are a little bit more controversial. I'll be curious to see if he uses this as an opportunity to throw some humor but then get in a couple of jokes.
HARLOW: You say that because I asked Cesily Strong about that (INAUDIBLE) hosting tonight. She said I don't feel like it's appropriate for me to go there.
HARLOW: However, just because she said because of her personal experiences, but as a woman, she said there's a lot I can make fun of in terms of breaking through the glass ceiling still and talking about the challenges that women (INAUDIBLE). So I think we'll listen to that from her as well tonight. It will be interesting.
SETMAYER: I will be curious to see if there's any Hillary jokes tonight.
HUGHLEY: Of course there will be.
SETMAYER: I hope so.
HARLOW: It is 8:00 on the East Coast and all eyes are on Washington, D.C. right now.