While an option to inform and entertain went unrealized in earlier speeches, the WHCD itself remained entertaining, as in 1944 when U.S.
(6) In fact, one extant document shows the WHCD was placed "in the category 'off the record' to the press" by the Eisenhower administration (U.S.
Yet the WHCD speeches demonstrate an earlier trend, with John F.
Where JFK and Johnson began to invest in such humor at the WHCD, in the next period of speeches presidents brought the enthymematic capacities of jokes to bear on more serious personal and public crises.
Jimmy Carter's WHCD speeches exhibited less crisis joking and a choice to hold a serious, breakfast interview format with the press in 1978.
Reagan's background as a performer, use of experienced joke writers like Landon Parvin (who wrote many WHCD speech jokes for Reagan and both Bush presidents), and general willingness to tell jokes helped spur the trend along, but some changes in the WHCD format probably influenced the president's choices.
Bush's WHCD jokes were less adventurous than Reagan's, including a choice to do only one joke at the 1992 speech, given the Los Angeles city riots (Bush 1992).
In sum, presidents tested and deepened their use of enthymematic jokes to address crises during this period of WHCD speeches.
raised the stakes for presidential joke making during the WHCD, Clinton turned the speech into a veritable art form for crisis rhetoric.
Consistent with jokes at the WHCD from Nixon forward, Bush's joke spoke to a need to come across as less than monarchical, asserting the humility to self-deprecate and appear confident in the face of problems.
Rather, it was the vast mass of Internet users that created these two moments of forced reflexivity by deciding to download, watch, forward, recommend, and rewatch clips from Crossfire and the WHCD. And by creating such a huge amount of traffic in both the clips and metacriticisms of the mainstream media, Internet users inadvertently forced the hands of such powerful media players as CNN, The New York Times, and The Washington Post to either cover the stories or abandon their claim to newsworthiness.
(5) By the WHCD appearance, Colbert was an established media figure, with The Colbert Report averaging 1.2 million viewers during its opening week in October 2005 (Amter 2005).