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Obama packs the punch lines at White House correspondents' dinner

At his first White House correspondents’ dinner, US President Barack Obama regaled his audience with anecdotes about his administration, his teleprompter reliance, the opposition - or the lack thereof - and the media coverage of his presidency.

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AFP - US President Barack Obama poked fun at himself, his cabinet and the journalists who covered him Saturday at his first star-studded annual dinner with White House correspondents.

The president joked about his reliance on a teleprompter and at what critics say the easy ride he gets from Washington journalists

"Most of you covered me, all of you voted for me," Obama told more than 2,000 guests in the Cabinet Ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel.

"In the next 100 days, I will learn to get off the prompter and Joe Biden will learn to get on the prompter," the president continued referring to his vice president.

The dinner was a rare chance for big political beasts from the stuffy US capital to rub shoulders with Hollywood royalty.

But critics claim the dinner is symptomatic of a too-cosy relationship between Washington journalists and the politicians they are supposed to cover, and accuse scribes of fawning over A-list stars.

Obama's first appearance as president at the dinner drew a bevvy of top stars, many of whom are sympathisers and big donors to his Democratic Party.

Guests at the Time Magazine table included film director Steven Spielberg while Fortune Magazine nabbed "Fatal Attraction" star Glenn Close and the father of "Star Wars" George Lucas.

Actress Demi Moore, hubby Ashton Kutcher and actor Val Kilmer were reportedly in line for CNN hospitality, while People Magazine had a red carpet's worth of stars including Sting, Kevin Bacon and Brooke Shields.

There were not just stars but heros at the dinner.

Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger the pilot who ditched his crippled US Airways jet in the Hudson River, miraculously saving all his passengers, was chowing down with the New York Daily News.

And Captain Richard Phillips, dramatically rescued by US special forces off Somalia, after giving himself up as a hostage to save his crew and cargo ship, was also there, fresh from a meeting Saturday with Obama at the White House.

One political star who didn't make it was former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who stayed at her governor's post in Alaska to deal with flash floods.

The White House Correspondents' Association was set up 1914 as a broker between reporters on the presidential beat on the White House. Every president since Calvin Coolidge has taken part in the dinner.

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