(Corrects name of comedian in par 7 to Roy Wood Jr)
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Saturday, in a possible preview of a 2024 presidential campaign theme, attacked 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 pointed jokes about Fox News.
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.
“Lies told for profit and power. Lies of conspiracy and malice repeated over and over again designed to generate a cycle of anger and hate and even violence,” Biden said.
That cycle, Biden added, has emboldened local jurisdictions to ban books, and “the rule of law and our rights and freedoms to be stripped away.”
Zeroing in 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 centered around Fox’s false claims that the 2020 presidential election had been manipulated in favor 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.
On April 4, Trump was charged with 34 felony counts in a case involving an alleged $130,000 hush payment to an adult film star during his 2016 presidential campaign. Trump pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
(Reporting by David Shepardson, additional reporting by Leah Douglas; writing by Richard Cowan; Editing by Lincoln Feast)