RTCA Dinner: Cheney’s Dig at Countdown, Rocca’s Digs at Everyone

By SteveK 

This year’s Radio and Television Correspondents Association Dinner featured something very rarely seen — Vice President Dick Cheney‘s sense of humor.

Before the dinner, the line stretched through the entire lobby of the Washington Hilton, where journalists and other guests waited to reach their way to the room. NBC’s David Gregory schmoozed in the line, while jumping a few spots. He later took home the 2008 Joan S. Barone Award.

The other award of the evening, the David Bloom Award, was presented by Bloom’s daughters, to CBS’s Lara Logan. It was accepted on her behalf by CBS DC bureau chief Chris Isham.

Before Cheney’s speech, a potential VP this year, Mitt Romney, made a surprise appearance. “I see I’m getting the same kind of coverage by CBS that I used to get,” he said to CBS News political director Steve Chaggaris, who took some jabs at Romney in his introduction.

Romney then launched into a Top 10 list of why he left the presidential race. One jaw-dropper: “I’d rather get fat, grow a beard and try for the Nobel Prize.” Ouch.

Then Cheney took the mic, and kicked off his speech in sunglasses and hat, a la his recent fishing trip. “Obviously you’re not the kind to look down on a bitter man who clings to his guns,” he said, addressing the press in the room.

There was pre-dinner buzz that Cheney planned to mention Keith Olbermann during his speech, and the VP delivered. While introducing Mo Rocca, he said, “Mo used to host a TV show called ‘Things I Hate About You.’ I’m sure I’ve seen that program, only I believe it’s now called Countdown with Keith Olbermann.” Click here for the clip…

Rocca took over after Cheney and put the whole dinner into perspective. “That dinner is CNN, this one’s like MSNBC,” he said, referencing the White House Correspondent Dinner next week.

After the jump, Rocca’s take on how Katie Couric can unseat Larry King, which cable channel head is like Hugh Hefner and more, as well as some pictures…

Rocca began listing all the “sworn enemies” in the crowd, and the list turned into a who’s who of Bill O’Reilly targets. Rocca said O’Reilly, “left 30 minutes ago with Rosie O’Donnell.”

He then turned his attention to CBS and Katie Couric. “She’s simply waiting for Larry King to wander off,” he said. “You know things are really bad when CBS News was included as one of the charities in Idol Gives Back.”

CNN was targeted as well. Although Rocca likes the CNN Election Center, he said it looks like “airport rental car center.” “CNN calls itself the Best Political Team on Television. That’s kind of like being the prettiest girl in accounting,” he said.

As for CNN’s multiple panels of election night analysts, Rocco said the third row is “so far back that they’re on MSNBC.”

Turning his attention to Fox News, Rocca described the “revolving door of blondes.” Then he likened CEO Roger Ailes to Hugh Hefner. “Only he knows who will be May’s Anchor of the Month.”

He also delivered a great line to the VP after a few jabs at Cheney: “This must be sheer torture — I mean, sheer enhanced interrogation — for you.”

After the dinner, TVNewser headed over to The Russia House for CNN’s after party. Wolf Blitzer was there, but left early (and was greeted by some anti-Bush protesters on his way out), Dana Bash and Amy Holmes chatted up the crowd, and MSNBC’s Willie Geist showed up, but only for a few minutes. “I’ve got to get up in three hours,” he said.

Each year, CNN invites members of the military and wounded soldiers to be guests of the network at the Radio and Television Correspondents dinner. Pictured is CNN anchor Kyra Phillips with some of those guests at CNN pre-dinner party.

For more pictures from all the events, head to FishbowlDC