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Biden vows to take action against detained American journalists in White House Correspondents’ Dinner speech

pResident Joe Biden used his keynote speech at this year’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner to highlight the fight against global press freedoms and the illegal detention of Americans abroad .

The Correspondents’ Dinner, affectionately known as the “nerd prom,” is Washington DC’s premier social event. Celebrities and media elites descend on the nation’s capital for a long weekend of exclusive gatherings centered around the dinner, which was headlined this year by Commander-in-Chief and comedian Roy Wood Jr. The event aims to celebrate the Washington press corps, which the speakers are expected to roast. Biden certainly used his speech to do that, but not before touching on more serious issues.

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The president began his speech by recognizing the families of Evan Gershkovich, the Wall Street Journal reporter wrongfully detained in Russia on trumped-up espionage charges, and Austin Tice, the reporter and U.S. Navy veteran who being kidnapped in Syria in 2012 and believed to still be. lives in government custody. Tice’s mother, Debra, and Gershkovich’s parents were present at Saturday’s dinner.

“Tonight our message is this: journalism is not a crime. Evan and Austin should be released immediately along with all other Americans detained abroad,” Biden said. “I promise you, I’m working like hell to bring them home.”

Biden also acknowledged Paul Whelan, the former US Marine who Russia has also detained on espionage charges, saying he and his administration would not rest until the American was freed.

In a happier moment, he noted Brittney Griner’s attendance at Saturday’s dinner. The WNBA star’s nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony – for carrying vaporizer cartridges containing minimal amounts of cannabis oil through a Moscow airport – was reduced when Biden agreed to a swap prisoners for convicted Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout in December.

Biden asked the two-time Olympic gold medalist to stand to be recognized, and Griner received a standing ovation from names across the political spectrum. She was seated next to FBI Director Christopher Wray, who rose to celebrate with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) at the table to the right and former Trump adviser the White House Kellyanne Conway and the chairwoman of the Republican National Committee Ronna McDaniel. at the tables directly behind.

As the mood turned somber, Biden changed his tone with a few digs at his old age

“I believe in the First Amendment,” he said first. “Not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it.”

“He calls me ‘old?’ I call it being seasoned. You say ‘I’m old,’ I say I’m wise. You say ‘I’m on the hill,’ Don Lemon would say that’s a man in his prime,” he continued to reference. to the recently ousted CNN anchor’s controversial comments about former South Carolina Nikki Haley’s age.

When he passed the mic to Wood, the president offered the comedian a warning that referenced Biden’s alter ego from conservative meme culture.

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“Roy, the podium is yours,” Biden said as he pulled on his classic aviator sunglasses. “It’s fine with your jokes, but I’m not sure about Dark Brandon.”

Wood began his speech with a jab at the president, saying, “Oh, very quickly, Mr. President, I think he left some of his classified documents up here.”

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