STORY: U.S. President Joe Biden offered up humor and praise on stage as the White House resumed its annual Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday night.
Biden's presidential speech marks the return of a Washington tradition, after the press dinner had been cancelled for two years because of the global health crisis, and boycotted by Donald Trump during his presidency.
With journalists, media executives and celebrities in attendance, Biden opened his speech with several jokes.
"I'm really excited to be here tonight with the only group of Americans with a lower approval rating than I have."
But his remarks took a more serious turn as he thanked the journalists for their coverage of Ukraine, and made a plea for national unity.
"We've all seen the courage of the Ukrainian people because of the courage of American reporters in this room and your colleagues across the world who are on the ground, taking their lives in their own hands."
"What's clear and I mean this in a lot of my heart that you, the free press, mattered more than you ever did in the last century."
A recent rise in COVID-19 cases in Washington brought an undercurrent of caution to this year's event.
Organizers of this year's event required every attendee to be tested for the virus.
Biden poked fun at Fox News reporters present at the event, many of whom have voiced their skepticism of vaccines on air.
"Everyone had to prove they were fully vaccinated and boosted. So if you're at home watching this and you're wondering how to do that, just contact your favorite Fox News reporter. They're all here, vaccinated and boosted. All of them."
Biden took extra precautions at the event by skipping the dinner portion, attending only the speakers program.