May 1, 2023

Roy Wood, Jr. at 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Transcript

Roy Wood, Jr. at 2023 White House Correspondents' Dinner Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsRoy Wood JrRoy Wood, Jr. at 2023 White House Correspondents’ Dinner Transcript

Wood is the latest figure from ‘The Daily Show’ to participate in the event, following Trevor Noah’s hosting gig in 2022. Read the transcript here. 

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Roy Woods Jr. (00:03):

Y’all give it up for Dark Brandon. Thank you. I’m happy to be here. Oh, real quick, Mr. President, I think you left some of your classified documents up here. You can get them. Here. No, don’t give them to him. I’ll put them in a safe place. He don’t know where to keep them that much.

Happy to be here though. Happy to be here. Very happy. Very happy to be here. It’s a pleasure to be here amongst our country’s greatest leaders, distinguished media organizations, both Property Brothers and Dr. Fauci. If you see Fauci, take a picture with him. That’s your new booster shot. But y’all look good though. I’ve been watching and looking around all night. Y’all look good. You’re dressed nice. You got the nice threads on. You got the jewelry glistening. Look like everybody got a little piece of that settlement money from Fox News.

That’s all I have to say about that because I’m not going to have Dominion on my ass. I love Dominion. Matter of fact, let me just say right now, my favorite voting machine is Dominion voting machines. When I go to the polls, I make sure it is a Dominion machine that I use. If your election needs the truth, put Dominion in your booth. I ain’t going to get sued. There’s three people you don’t want to see in the courtroom. That’s Dominion, Cardi B, or Gwyneth Paltrow. You going to lose.

I’d like to thank Tamara Keith and the White House Correspondents’ Association for having me. Thank you for that. I’m well aware that not everybody in this room knows who I am, so let’s just address the elephant in the room. I know what it is. Half this room think I’m Keenan Thompson. Other half think I’m Louis Armstrong. President Biden thinks I’m the daddy off Family Matters. Nonetheless, I’m happy to be here at this event amongst government officials who speak to MSNBC, former government officials who now work at MSNBC, and future government officials who currently work at MSNBC.

An often overlooked purpose of tonight’s dinner, it’s serious business. An overlooked purpose of tonight’s dinner is to award scholarships to students who have shown great achievements in journalism. That’s right. These brave young souls are the future of the industry and I’d like to stop right now and congratulate tonight’s top scholarship recipient, Arizona State Senior George Santos. Oh yeah, George couldn’t be here tonight. He’s auditioning for RuPaul’s Drag Race. That’s my bad. That’s my bad. We say good luck to you George, and sashay away.

Also, speaking of drag queens, can we stop with the grooming stuff? Can you stop talking about that? Drag queens are not at a school to groom your kids. Stop it. Even if they were, most of them kids going to get shot at school, it ain’t no problem. Don’t groan, pass legislation. Like they boos going to bother me. I’m like, “I’m like Mitch McConnell. I ain’t got no soul.”

It’s a tumultuous time in the media though. We got layoffs everywhere. Buzzfeed News, NPR, Axios, Washington Post, ESPN. Paramount Global, right now, is considering offers from Byron Allen and Tyler Perry to purchase BET. That’s how bad it is out there. These companies are so broke, they’re giving BET back to Black people. Which, by the way, is not what we meant when we said Black people wanted reparations. We meant cash. You can give it to us in them Harriet Tubman twenties.

But, tonight, we are all unified under one thing and that’s scandal. Scandals. Scandals have been devouring careers this year. The untouchable Tucker Carlson is out of a job. Yeah. Okay, some people celebrate it. But the Tucker staff, I want you to know that I know what you’re feeling. I work at the Daily Show so I, too, have been blindsided by the sudden departure of the host of a fake news program. Tucker got caught up. Got caught up like that dude from Vanderpump Rules. Text message stuff. I don’t know what Vanderpump Rules is about. I just watched it a couple times. My friends told me it’s like BMF, but for white people, or is that Succession? No, Succession is power for white people. No, Tucker Carlson is power for white people. No, that’s white power. You know what? Never mind. Don’t worry about that. Don’t worry about that.

We got to get Tucker back on the air, Mr. President, because right now there’s millions of Americans that don’t even know why they hate you. Fox claimed Dominion conspired with the Democrats to rig the election, and the Democrats should be flattered that they thought that y’all were smart enough to rig an election. Warnock needed a runoff to beat a werewolf. But it’s not over for you, Fox News, you still got more bad news coming down the pipe. That Smartmatic voting machine lawsuit is coming. That’s right. Smartmatic is coming for you and they want more money than Dominion. Matter of fact, let me just say right now, my favorite voting machine is the Smartmatic voting machine. If your election needs the truth, put Smartmatic in your booth.

But I think it’s fair that we should give credit where credit is due. Tucker Carlson is the first host to get fired from Fox News for something that’s only partially about how he treats women. That’s progress. He shattered the asshole ceiling. Speaking of assholes, Don Lemon is out of a job. Don Lemon. My dog, Don Lemon. Don Lemon released a statement saying he got fired from CNN. Then, CNN released a statement saying that they offered Don a meeting. They had to part ways because Don Lemon can’t even accurately report a story about Don Lemon.

I still think that Don deserved more CNN. That ain’t how you fire somebody. It’s messed up. How funny is it that you work in the news, then watch on the news that you got fired from the news? Don Lemon is now the most obnoxious guy in the history of CNN. That’s not fair. Even Jeffrey Toobin looking at Don Lemon like, “Hoo, he rubbed me the wrong way.” Letting Don go was the wrong move. You shouldn’t have let him go. Not this soon, CNN. First off, Don was fine when y’all was letting him drink. You shouldn’t have cut off his liquor. You don’t fire your host after the first couple of scandals. The scandals got to stack up. You got to get ratings. Yes, Don Lemon was a diva and he said a couple of women are raggedy in the face, but that’s a promotion at Fox News.

But I, ultimately, understand why CNN did what they did. I get it. It’s about morals. There should be no place on air for someone who speaks with wild disregard and doesn’t consider the blowback to their coworkers or their company. Thankfully, CNN has taken steps in the right direction. They got rid of Don Lemon and they’ve now given his show to Charles Barkley. To Charles Barkley’s co-host, Gayle King, we say good luck. I think it’s going to be a good show. The whole show is going to be Charles Barkley saying something crazy, then Gail King looking into the camera, “Charles, Charles.”

Scandals. That’s what connects us. So many scandals. The King of Scandals, President Donald Trump. Just for a moment, can we just all acknowledge, can we just all be honest and just say that the Trump arrest didn’t hit like we thought it was going to hit? We’re so desensitized to scandals now that Trump arrest, it didn’t do what I thought it was going to do. The Trump arrest was like a pot brownie you ate four hours ago and you’re like, “Hmm, do I feel justice? This don’t feel like justice. Let me try one of them Georgia arraignment brownies. Maybe that’ll hit. Okay, that one, that’s got some kick to it.”

Can’t follow Trump’s scandals. There’s too many Trump scandals to keep up with. Keeping up with Trump’s scandals is like watching Star Wars movies. You got to watch the third one to understand the first one. Then you can’t miss the second one because it’s got Easter eggs for the fifth one. Donald Trump is the only politician whose scandals got spinoffs on Disney+. But the Trump arrest, it made everybody question what they believe. You thought you leaned one way politically, then Trump got locked up, everybody started waffling. Put Republicans between a rock and a hard place. Donald Trump got locked up. For years, all Republican, all y’all been saying for years, “We got to get tough on crime.” Trump got arrested. “We meant Black crime.” Same thing with the Liberals too. Liberals was all confused after Trump got arrested. “We got to abolish prison.” “Trump got arrested.” “Bring back Rikers.”

I don’t know about y’all but, for me, the easiest scandal to follow was the Trump document scandal. That was the one that was easy to follow. It was simple. There’s some stuff that’s supposed to be in the White House that ain’t. The media, y’all did y’all’s job. Y’all jumped on that story. As soon as the Trump document story broke, everybody was down in Mar-a-Lago. “We’re reporting live from the documents and we going to find them.” And then, we found out Joe Biden had documents too and it was like, “Oh, it’s not a big deal. It’s not a big deal. Everybody got documents. Everybody got documents. Mike Pence has some documents. Don’t care about. Oh, look, a Chinese spy balloon. Would you look at that? Ooh.” Well done, media.

Happy to be here. Very happy to be here. If there’s one person that could use a scandal, it’s Ron DeSantis. That boy is just running around just passing every controversial law he can think of, thinking that’s going to activate voters. That’s not how you activate voters in this country, Ron. Everybody know how you do politics. This is America, we don’t pass laws. You make a promise to voters, and then you don’t do it. That’s what the great leaders in this room understand. You know how to make things not happen.

The only thing Ron DeSantis has done that I got to give him credit for, this boy got people riled up over stuff they can’t understand. Don’t nobody, they don’t know what critical race theory is. Got these people riled up about something that they can’t even define, like crypto or NFTs. Ask any Republican that’s anti CRT. Ask any Republican try and explain CRT. They sound like a Democrat trying to explain the charges against Trump. “It’s bad. They’re everywhere. We just got to stop it. We got to stop it. We got the files. We got files. We’ll be right back. I’m Rachel Maddow. I have files.” When Rachel Maddow get them files on you, it’s a wrap.

I think, Republicans, y’all would be surprised, man, if y’all would just be real about what CRT is. You’d be surprised. Some Black folks might meet you halfway, but you got to tell the truth. You can’t lie to Black people. Call it what it is. Anti CRT policies are an attack on Black history and an attempt to erase the contributions of Black people from the history books. That’s what it is. You are trying to erase Black people, and a lot of Black people wouldn’t mind some of that erasure as long as that Black person is Clarence Thomas.

A billionaire named Harlan Crow is flying Clarence Thomas all over the world on unreported trips like an Instagram model. Taking Clarence to the Maldives and the beaches and all. Paid for his mama’s house, this billionaire. Paid for Clarence Thomas’ mama’s house. I got to give it up to billionaires. Billionaires, boy, y’all are relentless. Y’all always come up with something new to buy. Just when you think of everything you could buy on earth, a billionaire will come up with a new thing. Y’all done buy space rockets. You bought Twitter. This man bought a Supreme Court justice. Do you understand how rich you have to be to buy a Supreme, a Black one on top of that. There’s only two in stock, and Harlan Crow owns half the inventory. We can all see Clarence Thomas, but he belongs to billionaire Harlan Crow and that’s what an NFT is.

Everybody’s got some scandals though. Despite the challenging times we live in, I look around this room and I see people that are hardworking. Many of you, I don’t even think you should be working that hard. We should be inspired by the events in France. They rioted when the retirement age went up two years to 64. They rioted because they didn’t want to work until 64. Meanwhile, in America, we have an 80 year old man begging us for four more years of work. Begging, begging. “Let me finish the job.” That’s not a campaign slogan. That’s a plea. “Let me finish it. Let me finish it.”

I do wish you the best of luck on the campaign trail, Mr. President. You got a lot of things that you’re going to have to navigate. A lot of hurdles. You’ve had quite a few scandals. We know about the documents, we know about the laptops, but there’s been no scandal more damaging than the scandal of is Joe Biden awake? Hey, say what you want about our president, but when he wake up from that nap, work gets done. He might doze off but then, “Infrastructure bill. Student loan forgiveness. Did we free Brittney Griner? Free Brittney Griner.”

But I think the most insulting scandal to fall to the feet of the Biden administration was placed at the feet of our Madam Vice President, the scandal of what does Kamala do? Which is a disrespectful question. That’s a disrespectful question because nobody ever asked that question of the Vice President until a woman got the job. Nobody asked. I don’t know what Mike Pence did. The only thing I know about Mike Pence is that he’s really good at playing hide and seek at the Capitol. You got to be crafty to catch Mike Pence in that Capitol, baby. He know all the nooks and crannies.

Don’t put the camera on her on a Mike Pence joke. Don’t do that. They trying to set you up, Madam Vice President. You see what they do. At the end of the day, as a Vice President, the only thing you got to do is just be better than Dick Chaney. That’s the bar. Just be better than Dick Chaney. They made a documentary about Dick Chaney. Now, I don’t know much about the job of Vice President, but I do know if they can make a documentary about your time as Vice President, you Vice Presidented incorrectly.

If a VP’s job is really just waiting to step in to save the country in case of emergency, then the job of Vice President is a perfect job for a Black woman. Shouldn’t be, but it is. Whatever you do accomplish, whatever you do accomplish, all they going to do is just give a man credit for it. Anything you do. Oh, the immigration stuff you knocked out. You got all this banking and you got the internet down there. You’re taking care of all this postpartum stuff. They just going to give a man credit for what you done. By the way, Mr. President, great job at being the first woman Vice President of color. I don’t even know how you did that part. Wonderful job.

Happy to be here. But, tonight, tonight is all about you all, the journalists, the defenders of free speech. The people who show truth to the world through different mediums, through television, through print, through radio, through whatever China let us see on TikTok. But the industry that covers all of these scandals isn’t immune to them theirself. The issue with good media is that most people can’t afford that. All the essential, fair and nuanced reporting is all stuck behind a paywall. People can’t afford rent. People can’t afford food, not healthy food. They can’t afford an education. They damn sure can’t afford to pay for the truth. Say what you want about a conspiracy theory, but at least it’s affordable. I mean, well, unless you Alex Jones, it cost you about $900 million.

I understand that we have to put the stuff behind the paywall because creating the truth is important. People can’t afford the truth, but you all can’t afford to go find the truth for free. The work you do as journalists is important. It’s essential. It’s dangerous. My father was an embedded reporter on the front lines with Black platoons in Vietnam. He was in the South African Soweto riots. He covered that. The Civil War in Rhodesia, which we know today as Zimbabwe. My father came back home and co-founded the National Black Network because he wanted to tell Black stories. It’s American Urban Radio Networks now and they’ve been doing it 50 years, and that’s part of what my father wanted to build. I know it was hard because Black daddies love telling you when something was difficult. “They was shooting at me, boy, but I never dropped my tape recorder.” My daddy tell war stories like Brian Williams. All right. Lester Holt didn’t laugh at that one. Okay, sir.

Good journalism costs. That’s the truth of the matter. Good journalism costs the people, but it also costs the journalists. It could even cost you your freedom. We talked about Evan of the Wall Street Journal sitting in a Russian prison as we speak on espionage charges. Which, espionage charges by the way, that’s the foreign equivalent of saying someone fits the description. Evan and hundreds of journalists, they’re imprisoned all over the world simply for doing their job. We got to defend brave journalists.

Most national stories in this country, at some point, were first a local story. Those stories are championed by reporters at outlets that many of them have now folded. If we can’t figure out a way to pay local reporters then, as a country, we’re only left with that many more blind spots to where the bull is happening. You hear about all these newsrooms getting cuts. That’s every article that Tamara has been sending me the last two months. It’s just the newsroom is getting cut. We’re cutting people. We’re cutting budgets. But you never hear about the multimillion dollar executives reducing their salaries within these organizations. Now, how do we fix this? I don’t know. I’m a comedian. I was just up here. It’s not my job to have the solution, that’s on y’all. But local reporting, it’s very important.

My mother is here tonight, and I know she’s furious right now because I’m trying to put her on camera, but my mother was amongst a group of Black student protestors fighting for equality in the ’60s at Delta State University. That was a dangerous time. But those types of incidents were covered by local reporters. Some of the shame that came from the national embarrassment of treating people inhumanely, it’s part of the pressure that helped to create that type of change. What would’ve become of my mother and those other protestors if a local journalist wasn’t there telling the story.

Now, it’s no different. But, thankfully, my mother’s story was told. She got to complete her degree at Delta State and continued on to Florida A&M and got another degree. And then, for the last 45 years, has worked at a historically Black college as an educator and administrator. One of those many Black colleges that need a little bit more funding. You got a $20 on you, Joe? Send that down to one of the Black colleges.

To my mom, I say thank you for everything you’ve done for me and for helping countless students in Birmingham have the opportunity to see a college degree and to see an opportunity to grow. My mother’s journey may not have even begun, if not for brave journalists who chose to chronicle history in real time. I don’t know how to ever repay my mom for what she’s done for me and what she’s done for so many people in Alabama. But just know, mama, if a white billionaire call you and offer to buy your house, please sell it, because I might want to become an NFT.

Thank you so much to the Correspondents’ Association. Thank you so much to Tamara Keith. Thank you all so much. Good night. Thank you.

Speaker 2 (25:36):


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