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Sunday, February 12, 2017

If we skip the nerd prom, the terrorists win!

OK, the actual headline over the commentary by Major Garrett of CBS read, "If the press skips the White House correspondents’ dinner, we’d prove Trump’s point."

Now the headline was written by a Washington Post staffer, but nevertheless the headline unmasks the pretense of objective journalism by framing the issue as the press versus Donald Trump.

And if you don't have objectivity, you don't have journalism.

The media in Washington are arguing over whether there should be a White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which was an annual gathering featuring the president and a comic as an emcee.

In the Bush years, it became a nerd prom as media outlets brought in celebrity guests. Ozzy Osbourne showed up one year. Purists began questioning how this event helped advance the cause of journalism.

Under Obama, the dinner became an homage to El Presidente in which comics scorned Obama's critics. In 2011, the Washington Post crossed a line when it invited Donald Trump as a guest, setting him up for a half-hour of ridicule.

Whether he took it or not was not the question.

Why it happened in the first place was.

Yes, Trump was doing that goofy birther thing that greatly marginalized him. But the Washington Post had no journalistic reason or interest in setting him up like that.

So now Trump is president and journalists -- or at least people who like to tell you that is what they are -- suddenly question having the event.

Enter Garrett to make the case for the dinner:
The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner is not a mood ring. It doesn’t care if President Trump — or any president — likes, dislikes, celebrates, scorns or ignores White House reporters. The annual gala does not indicate, illustrate or represent the relationship between the White House and the reporters who cover it. It is an institution that celebrates one bedrock American value, the First Amendment, and two journalistic goals: to highlight excellent reporting and to award scholarships to the next generation of American journalists.
If patriotism is the final refuge of the scoundrel, then the First Amendment is the scoundrel's penultimate refuge.

I suppose a fancy dinner does celebrate the First Amendment. I used to toast it every night at the press club back in my drinking days. As for raising money for the scholarships, why not sell White House Scout cookies? I vaguely recall newsrooms filled with skinny young people who thought they could live forever on junk food.

But of course the diner is a mood ring for Washington journalists. Under Bush 43 it was red, white and blue. Under Obama, a rainbow. Under Trump, black.

Garrett made some good points: "But the Trump presidency has inspired some in the press corps to boycott this year because — if I have this right — reporters are too good for Trump."

Garrett sees the dinner in a way that those of us watching it on C-Span do not: "But no self-respecting White House reporter has ever been a president’s prom date, and the dinner isn’t a date at all. It’s a cease-fire with bad wine and crowded tables."

And Garrett noted:
Consistency matters. The New York Times, among other organizations, has for several years chosen to ignore the dinner. Fair enough. Reasonable journalists can disagree. The suggestion, though, that holding the dinner during the Trump era would be an act of debasement, or that the advent of the Trump administration is the right moment to do away with the event altogether, strikes me as precisely the wrong approach. My outlet, CBS News, will participate this year and proudly so. If they back out now, organizations that attended last year ought to explain what is different about this year. Is it Trump? Or is it them? Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively.
That is a powerful argument because it is true. By "evidentiary cudgel," he means proof.

Those who skip this year after attending last year are doing so only because the people of the United States dared to elect Donald John Trump president.

If Hillary were president, we would not be having this conversation.

Samantha Bee, Amy Schumer, and Lena Dunham would be co-emcees telling jokes as a committee at the expense of Donald Trump.

Andrea Mitchell would receive a Lifetime Achievement Award in which she would show a fealty to Hillary that would rival DPRK News Service's devotion to Kim Jong-Un.

Hillary would then speak and not a dry eye would be found as she recalled her life which began as a poor, black boy in Mississippi.

At the end, the audience would rise and sing, in unison, "Stronger Together."

But you damned voters had to spoil all that, didn't you?

And so it is up to Major Garrett to wave the Constitution and try to rally the troops around the freedom of the press because they are journalists -- even though so few of them are objective when it comes to covering Trump.

The show must go on.

The Washington Post copy desk sees the argument as the press versus Trump. I don't often agree with that newspaper's staff, but they got this one right.


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  1. Let the journalistic snowflakes boycott. Trump can then roast them all in his unique New York guy way.

  2. How was the "birther" thing goofy? At the grassroots level, everyone wanted to see Obama's birth certificate. Trump got Obama to finally put one up and shut down the issue. Is getting results really that goofy?

    I feel these constant back handed insults from our own side will demoralize the base and drop support for Trump over time. Not necessarily from you, Don, but definitely from Powerline blog, conservative radio, Fox news, etc.

    1. I'd still like to see some actual proof that Obama is who his agents say he is. A clearly phony photoshopped "birth certificate" doesn't convince me of anything but the fact that he's committed fraud. (Full disclosure: I once had a phony ID when I was in college. That was a fraud too, but I got away with it because I never showed it to any authorities, only bartenders in poorly-lit bars!)

      So far all I hear is that the "birther" stuff is "debunked" but there's never any actual evidence of debunking. Who's got some factual proof?

      I remain convinced that the whole persona of Obama/Soetoro or whoever he is, is manufactured. The actual Manchurian Candidate who got elected, to effect great harm to our country!

    2. A good friend, who was born in Hawaii the same year as Obama, says Obama's birth cert is not the same as his in format and thus fake. Who knows, but considering the big lies from Obama and his secret college records, I don't doubt my friend.

    3. A good friend, who was born in Hawaii the same year as Obama, says Obama's birth cert is not the same as his in format and thus fake. Who knows, but considering the big lies from Obama and his secret college records, I don't doubt my friend.

  3. it's a free party for the reporters and a tax write off for the media companies. Then again something interesting might happen, so many will go. The insult to the press will be if Trump doesn't show up. That will be contempt. But he may. He has no fear of them.

    1. Yup. That's my thought too. Donald should tell them all to stick it up their asses and he'll get some more work done. How dare these people feel like they are equal. They're inferior people. Inferior.

  4. About those scholarships - from the Washington Examiner -"Julia Whiston, the association's executive director, was compensated $133,150 in 2013, the latest year that tax returns for the nonprofit group have been made public. That year, only $86,000 worth of scholarships were awarded to students at the annual White House Correspondents' dinner."

    In 2015, they gave out $134,000 in scholarships.

    Not bad but not much considering what these organizations pay for their week of parties. Fake news. Fake charity.

    1. Wow. All of these people making millions of dollars and they could only give out $86,000 last year?

      Headlines: "Rich People Justify Extravagance as "Charity.""

      -Mikey NTH

    2. "Journalists" who attend this dinner each receive a swag bag worth at least $500. Subhead: "Rich People Receive Gift if They Attend 'Charity Event.'"

  5. " Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively." Not that we need that, having all the evidence we need from the media since November 8th.

  6. Trump ought to announce that the dinner will be held in the canteen, during the lunch break, of one of the US factories he's save this past month.

    He'd probably get a bunch of supportive laughs from the work shifts as he roasted various media personalities.

  7. Why would any Republican president want to attend this awards dinner?

    -Mikey NTH

  8. Trump should not go. If he goes, a bunch of journos will loudly declare their intention to boycott the dinner in order to "show the man." Trump should not give them the satisfaction. He should stay away and instead do something yuuuuge that night, like maybe hold a state dinner for some VIP, or something patriotic that day, which would make any attacks on him at the dinner seem petty. If the correspondents dinner is a bust, let it all be on the media.

    1. He hasn't held a rally since his post-election "Thank You" tour; he should hold one the night of this stupid dinner.

  9. "...the Washington Post had no journalistic reason or interest in setting him up like that..." Other than the fact that Donald J Trump had offended their lightbringer and deity.

    Maybe the President should send his regrets owing to a scheduling conflict (Hmmm. What's on Netflix that night?). He could send a check, though, for maybe $270,000 which would cover twice the executive director's wages for 2013, or over three times the scholarship money given out that year.

  10. I believe that the MSM is scared. They know that if they show up at a White House Correspondents' Association dinner with President Trump THEY will be the targets of ridicule. None of them want that. - Elric