If you happened to watch the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday night, you may have caught this odd exchange between White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason and Daily Show comedian Hasan Minhaj where Minhaj said, during his comedy bit, that he was told to hold back on anti-Trump jokes while Mason can be heard off camera saying it wasn’t true. From the Washington Post:
Early in his burn-laced act, Minhaj implied his hosts told him not to roast Trump. “I was explicitly told not to go after the administration,” he said after launching his first jab at the president, looking over at White House Correspondents’ Association president Jeff Mason with a look of exaggerated apology. (An item in Saturday’s New York Post hinted at a similar embargo, citing “a source who saw the comic” at a Manhattan gig, claiming organizers had declared POTUS off-limits, “because Trump is so thin-skinned.”)
Mason disputes that — and even tried fact-checking the comedian during his act. “You were not told that,” Mason can be heard saying, with a wry smile, as Minhaj claimed he’d been gagged.
Mason told us on Sunday that he was confused by the bit, since he “absolutely” never instructed Minhaj to steer clear of Trump. The two did talk about the theme of the evening, he said, which was to honor the work of the White House press corp and the importance of the first amendment. “I had said all along that I wasn’t looking for someone to roast the president in absentia,” Mason says.
This is actually a big deal. Either Mason is lying and he (or someone else at the WHCA) told Minhaj to hold back on skewering Trump or it’s Minhaj who is lying to make himself look like he’s the one not afraid to speak truth to power.
So, which one is telling the truth and which one is “fake news”?
Our bet is on Minhaj as the truth-teller as Mason is already on record saying the WHCA “was not looking for somebody who was going to roast the president in absentia. That’s not fair, and that’s not the message that we want to get across.”
Hasan Minhaj has made plenty of digs at Trump in past, but Mason says WHCD speech won’t be a “roast” of president https://t.co/F62uVmTuoA
— Hadas Gold (@Hadas_Gold) April 11, 2017
Minhaj touched on the WHCA’s attempted restrictions on his speech in his closing remarks, saying “Only in America can a first-generation Indian-American Muslim kid get on this stage and make fun of the president”:
— Dave Itzkoff (@ditzkoff) April 30, 2017
— Twitchy Team (@TwitchyTeam) April 30, 2017