1 of 7 | President Joe Biden speaks during the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. The annual dinner raises money for WHCA scholarships and honors the recipients of the organization's journalism awards. Photo by Nathan Howard/UPI | License Photo
April 30 (UPI) -- President Joe Biden added his voice to those questioning his age during his White House Correspondents' dinner speech.
In the days since Biden announced his bid for re-election, critics have targeted the 80-year-old president's age, as he would approach 86 at the end of his potential second term. Rather than steering away from the topic of his age in a room filled with members of the press, Biden went to the well on it for laughs.
"And, look, I get that age is a completely reasonable issue. It's on everybody's mind. And everyone -- by 'everyone' I mean The New York Times," Biden said, according to a White House transcript. "'Biden's advanced age is a big issue. Trump's, however, is not.'" Sorry, that was a New York Times Pitchbot. I love that guy. I should do an interview with him."
The president's speech was tailored to supporting journalism in light of attacks against a free press, particularly by Russia. He called on Russia to release Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich, who has been in a Russian prison for a month.
Russia charged Gershkovich with espionage. The arrest of an American journalist on accusations of spying on the Kremlin is something that has not happened since the fall of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.
"The free press is a pillar -- maybe the pillar -- of a free society. Not the enemy," Biden said. "Tonight, our message is this: Journalism is not a crime."
Biden also pledged that the search continues for Austin Tice, a photojournalist who was kidnapped while on assignment in Syria in 2012 and said his administration is trying to secure the release of Paul Whelan, a former U.S. Marine who has been detained in Russia for more than four years.
As Biden shifted his tone to a more humorous one, he chided Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, Don Lemon, Elon Musk and others.
"I want everybody to have fun tonight, but please be safe," Biden remarked. "If you find yourself disoriented or confused, it's either you're drunk or Marjorie Taylor Greene."
Biden had multiple remarks for Fox News, which settled a defamation lawsuit with Dominion Voting Systems for $787.5 million earlier this month.
"Look, it's great the cable news networks are here tonight," he said. "MSNBC owned by NBC Universal. Fox News owned by Dominion Voting Systems."
"You might think I don't like Rupert Murdoch," he added. "That's simply not true. How could I dislike the guy who makes me look like Harry Styles?"
The event was hosted by comedian Roy Wood Jr., a correspondent for Comedy Central's The Daily Show.