WASHINGTON // President Barack Obama joked about Russian President Vladimir Putin and issues closer to home as he headlined the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner Saturday night.
The annual tradition has the president mocking others and himself as celebrities mingle with journalists and politicians.
Mr Obama made fun of conservative television hosts’ talk about Mr Putin’s bare chest, and he joked about opposition claims that he had been born overseas instead of the United States.
Looking ahead to a possible successor in office, Mr Obama said it will be a lot harder for Republicans to prove that Hillary Rodham Clinton was born in Kenya.
The president also poked fun at CNN’s extensive coverage of the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane. He said he was still jet-lagged from his visit in recent days to Malaysia and added, “The lengths we have to go to get CNN coverage these days!”
Mr Obama also turned the humour on himself and his difficult 2013, including the deeply troubled roll-out of the website for his health care overhaul.
First Lady Michelle Obama accompanied him to the black tie event, and Joel McHale, star of the NBC series "Community" was the dinner's featured entertainer. Celebrities attending included Sofia Vergara and the stars of Washington-centric shows like Veep and Scandal.
The dinner has often come at key moments of Mr Obama’s presidency. In 2011, the US president showed up the day before special operations troops killed Osama bin Laden. Last year’s dinner came nearly two weeks after the deadly Boston Marathon.
This time, the US and Europe are anxiously watching Ukraine and Russia’s role in the turbulence in the eastern region of the former Soviet state.
The correspondent’s association, which represents the White House press corps, is celebrating its centenary.
Several journalists were awarded prizes for their coverage of the presidency and national issues.
Glenn Thrush of Politico and Brianna Keilar of CNN won the Aldo Beckman Award, which recognises excellence in the coverage of the presidency.
Peter Baker of The New York Times and Peter Maer of CBS News won the Merriman Smith Award for deadline coverage.
Megan Twohey of Reuters and a partnership between The Center for Public Integrity’s Chris Hamby and ABC News’ Matthew Mosk and Brian Ross won the Edgar A Poe Award for coverage of issues of national significance.
* Associated Press