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.
"Trump the Establishment," my look at the general election, is available in paperback at Create Space, or if you prefer or (via Instapundit) Amazon as a paperback.
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This is the sequel to "Trump the Press," which covered the nomination. It is available on Kindle, or in paperback on Create Space.
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