Conan O’Brien wants the White House Correspondents’ Association to know that he would be delighted to stand in for President Donald Trump at its dinner this year.
Days after he started calling “fake” press – defined as outlets that report news Trump does not like – the “enemy” of the American people,” Trump announced he would not attend the annual dinner, telling Fox & Friends he made this decision because members “make stories up” and “create sources.”
It marks the first time a president has declined to attend the WHCD since Ronald Reagan in 1981 – but in Reagan’s defense, he had just been shot.
CNN’s Jake Tapper asked O’Brien what advice he’d have for the comedian hired to play host at this year’s event, given the unusual circumstances. The Conan host, having had that gig twice — in 1995, when Bill Clinton was POTUS, and in 2013 when Barack Obama was in the White House — replied without hesitation, “If it were me … I would play both parts.”
He added: “I would play President Trump, and then I would switch and be the comedian. That way I get twice the airtime. All you need, Alec Baldwin has shown us, is a wig – I don’t even need the wig. I’m ready to do it now,” Conan said of his red hair. “I’d just comb this forward, and make a face like I’d eaten a lemon, and I’m there. So I would happily play both parts, and I would just ask for twice the pay.”
The late-night host was visiting Tapper’s show to plug tonight’s Conan Without Borders: Made in Mexico special on TBS.
O’Brien’s TBS late-night colleague, Samantha Bee, already is hosting an alt-White House Correspondents’ Dinner on the same night at a different hotel in Washington, D.C. It’s billed as a safe haven for Hollywood celebrities who love being seen in the Washington political setting but have been losing sleep trying to figure out how to reconcile that with their strong anti-Trump positions. In her January announcement, Bee made a point of saying her alt-WHCD welcomed all “non-irritating celebrities,” as well as journalists.