#NeverTrump Efforts To Take Down Donald Trump Could Take Tips From 2011 Correspondents Dinner President Obama and comedian Seth Meyers made cracks at the real estate magnate's expense over birtherism and Trump's political credentials — mocking him relentlessly at the event.

#NeverTrump Efforts Could Take Tips From 2011 Correspondents Dinner

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Donald Trump has based his presidential campaign on resentment toward the establishment. As some Republicans are working now to stop Trump, it got our media correspondent thinking about the last attempt to knock Trump down, when he was all over the air waves questioning President Obama's place of birth.

NPR's David Folkenflik takes us back to the evening five years ago when two representatives if the political and cultural elite made Donald Trump the butt of a national joke.

DAVID FOLKENFLIK, BYLINE: It was the final day of April 2011.


BARACK OBAMA: My - fellow Americans...


FOLKENFLIK: The White House Correspondents' dinner.


OBAMA: ...Mahalo.


FOLKENFLIK: Marcus Brauchli, then executive editor of The Washington Post, was there.

MARCUS BRAUCHLI: Every year, the White House Correspondents' Dinner is a scrum of politics -politicians and celebrities.

FOLKENFLIK: The Washington Post's celebrity guest? Donald Trump. And Brauchli showed him around.

BRAUCHLI: Trump was, I would say, in pretty high spirits on the way into the dinner.

FOLKENFLIK: And that would change. For weeks, two teams of writers had been working on rival remarks - one set for President Obama, another for comedian Seth Meyers. Trump had emerged as the figurehead of the birther movement. Jon Favreau, then Obama's chief speechwriter, wanted to convert an insult into a punchline.

JON FAVREAU: A couple weeks prior to the dinner, Trump decided to send his team of investigators to Hawaii and determine whether or not the president of the United States was actually born in the United States.

FOLKENFLIK: Now host of NBC's "Late Night," Seth Meyers was to be the final speaker of the night. At the time, he was anchor of "Saturday Night Live's" mock newscast, "Weekend Update," and he was the show's lead writer.

SETH MEYERS: Donald Trump was not in our crosshairs when we sat down three weeks out. He did us the great favor of ramping up his demands for the birth certificate as we got closer to the show.

FOLKENFLIK: Obama finally dispatched a lawyer to retrieve his long-form birth certificate in Hawaii - releasing it with some irritation. Seth Meyers didn't even realize Trump would be at the dinner.

MEYERS: At the time, he was sort of a bipartisan target. The Republican Party didn't own him at the time the way they own him now. So everyone in Washington, I think, saw him as this buffoonish character who was saying he could come in and understand how politics worked. And so he was a perfect target in that the entire room was ready to hear jokes about him.

FOLKENFLIK: Obama started light.


OBAMA: Now, I know that he's taken some flak lately. But no one is happier - no one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than The Donald.


OBAMA: And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter, like did we fake the moon landing?


OBAMA: What really happened in Roswell?


OBAMA: And where are Biggie and Tupac?


MEYERS: I don't care what your politics are. This is the funniest president with the best delivery in the history of - certainly televised comedy.

FOLKENFLIK: Seth Meyers says this as much as a complaint as a compliment.

MEYERS: And this is, I think, what most comedians would be thinking. My first thought was how is this going to affect me? And how is this going to affect my Trump material? Are they going to be laughed out on Donald Trump by the time I get up there?

FOLKENFLIK: Speechwriter Jon Favreau held aspirations beyond the comedy.

FAVREAU: What we wanted to accomplish more than anything was show people how absurd he was, how absurd his line of inquiry into the president's, you know, legitimacy was and also sort of poke fun at Trump thinking that he was qualified to possibly be president of the United States based on his very successful career as host of "The Celebrity Apprentice" reality show.

FOLKENFLIK: It's true. Trump was thinking hard about a White House bid even then. Favreau's colleague Jon Lovett had consulted the comedian and director Judd Apatow. Apatow pitched a bit that led Obama to bury Trump in praise.


OBAMA: No, seriously, just recently in an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice..."


OBAMA: ...At the steakhouse, the men's cooking team did not impress the judges from Omaha Steaks.


OBAMA: And there was a lot of blame to go around. But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump nodded at one point. But, as Meyers notes, he otherwise took it impassively.

MEYERS: Very unkind angle from the C-SPAN cameramen.


OBAMA: And so, ultimately, you didn't blame Lil Jon or Meatloaf.


OBAMA: You fired Gary Busey.


OBAMA: And these are the kind of decisions that would keep me up at night.


FOLKENFLIK: Meyers was up next.

MEYERS: And then, of course, there's Donald Trump. Donald Trump has been saying that he will run for president as a Republican, which is surprising since I just assumed he was running as a joke.


FOLKENFLIK: Meyers killed, too.

BRAUCHLI: They went after him hard.

FOLKENFLIK: Marcus Brauchli says Trump's discomfort mounted.

BRAUCHLI: When he walked in, he felt like he was in the crowd and of the crowd. And within an hour, he's the focus of massive ridicule from the most powerful man in the room and the celebrity guest of the night.

FOLKENFLIK: Brauchli says Trump and his wife Melania exited swiftly. Trump spoke here to "Fox And Friends" on the morning after the dinner.


DONALD TRUMP: I thought the delivery was good. I thought Seth Meyers - frankly, his delivery was not good. He's a stutterer, and he really was having a hard time.

FOLKENFLIK: Meyers approached Trump at a charity event a few days later and thanked him for being a good sport. Meyers says Trump told him - you went too far.

MEYERS: Also, I want to point out that he hadn't been a good sport. But I was allowing him the window to embrace this revisionist history where he had been a good sport. But he chose (laughter)...

FOLKENFLIK: He did not - he didn't want any part.

MEYERS: He really wanted no part of it.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump wouldn't comment for this story. But last month, he told The New York Times he loved the dinner. Marcus Brauchli notes that President Obama had just secretly authorized a special forces team to Pakistan to hunt down Osama bin Laden.

BRAUCHLI: I thought back on that evening how Obama managed to finish off one enemy. But it turned out the blow he delivered to Trump was temporary and may just have served to harden Trump's resolve to go after the elites who were then laughing at him.

FOLKENFLIK: Trump made the establishment's refusal to treat him seriously a cornerstone of his campaign, seeking to get the last laugh. David Folkenflik, NPR News.

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