US President Joe Biden on Saturday, in a possible preview of a 2024 Presidential campaign theme, slammed news outlets he said used “lies told for profit and power” to stir up hatred in the United States, as he coupled his remarks with light hearted jokes about Fox News.
While speaking at the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, Biden referred to “truth buried by lies,” in an apparent reference to false conspiracy theories that his 2020 election win was the result of a massive voter fraud.
Emphasizing on what he characterized as “an extreme press,” Biden at the same time joked that if he called Fox News “honest, fair and truthful then I can be sued for defamation.”
Earlier this month, Fox Corp settled a defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million in a case that centred around Fox’s false claims that the 2020 Presidential election had been manipulated in favour of Biden.
And in a jab at former President Donald Trump, Biden quipped that comedian Roy Wood Jr, who also was a featured speaker at the dinner, had offered him $10 to keep his speech short.
“That’s a switch – a President being offered hush money,” Biden said to laughter.
Presidents — Trump being an exception– normally attend the dinner and use their speeches to nod to the US Constitution’s First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech and the press.
But the deep partisanship that has washed across American politics in recent years has at times turned the light- hearted dinner known in Washington as the “nerd prom,” into a tense affair.
Biden said his administration were “here to send a message to the country and the world that a free press is a pillar of a free society, not the enemy.”
“I believe in the First Amendment,” the 80 year old President quipped, adding “Not just because my good friend Jimmy Madison wrote it. James Madison was the fourth US President serving from 1809-1817.
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