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While video of Bush's impromptu soft-shoe routine on the White House steps was broadcast far and wide, members of the press corps were sworn to off-the-record secrecy before viewing his Gridiron song & dance. During the routine, Bush joked about Dick Cheney's penchant for secrecy, former FEMA director Michael Brown's incompetence and "some oil rich Saudi."
A few attendees apparently ignored Bush's secrecy directive and surreptitiously filmed the proceedings with cell phone cameras. Videos of the event were posted to YouTube and are reproduced below.
The Gridiron Club has only 65 active members, did not admit women until the 1970's, and did not include television or radio correspondents until just 2005. The New York Times boycotted because of the off-the-record ground rules.
Originally posted by JBA2848
That old White House is behind me, I'm once again carefree, don't have to worry 'bout a crisis in Pyongyang. Down the lane I look Dick Cheney is strolling with documents he's been withholding, it's good to touch the brown brown grass of home."
My fellow Americans, I'm pleased to tell you today that I've signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.
The Gridiron Club, founded in 1885, is the oldest and most prestigious journalistic organization in Washington, D.C. Its 65 active members represent major newspapers, news services, news magazines and broadcast networks. Membership is by invitation only and has traditionally been offered almost exclusively to Washington newspaper bureau chiefs. Recently, however, it has begun opening its doors to such non-newspaper media figures as Tim Russert of NBC News, Bob Schieffer of CBS News, Mara Liasson of National Public Radio, and Judy Woodruff of PBS.
The Gridiron Club is best known for its annual dinner which traditionally features the United States Marine Band, along with satirical musical skits by the members and remarks by the president of the United States and representatives of each political party. The skits and speeches by various politicians are expected to be self-deprecating or otherwise sharply comedic.
It is one of the only remaining large-scale white-tie affairs in Washington. It offers a neutral ground on which members of the press and various elected officials and political operatives can break bread together.
Also as is true of the WHCA Dinner and RTCA Dinner, the Gridiron Club Dinner has been subject to criticism that it encourages journalists to engage in undue coziness with the political officials they are supposed to fairly cover, and also that the public spectacle of "playing footsie" with reporters' main subjects is bringing the political press into disgrace.
For example, at the 2007 dinner, columnist Robert Novak impersonated Vice President Dick Cheney while satirizing the Scooter Libby case, which Novak helped initiate.