On Thursday, The Washington Post editorializes that Donald Trump has been campaigning on “bogus” issues and that he should “cease and desist.” An article in the news pages the same day reports that the great orange charlatan’s “simply wild speculation” has “almost no basis in fact.”
Then, on Saturday night, Post reporters and editors, in black-tie finest, go to the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner to host their invited guests, including .”‰.”‰. Donald Trump.
Awkward though the Trump invitation is, it is just one of the many problems with the annual dinner and its satellite events….
The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank has written his second column blasting the DC media in as many months (see Milbank slams fawning, stenographic media in Issa scandal: “Rotten to the press corps”).
The piece begins with an explicit criticism of his own paper, though as with the last piece, the editors softened the headline from the print edition’s “Journalists gone wild,” to “How the journalist prom got out of control.” Still the metaphor of DC journalists as irresponsible adolescents remains.
Here’s more of the piece exposing the journalist-celebrity-politician industrial complex:
The fun begins, appropriately enough, at the offices of the American Gas Association, where White House reporters are feted by the lobbyists of the Quinn Gillespie firm. More lobbyist-sponsored entertainment comes from the Motion Picture Association. Along the way, journalists wind up serving as pimps: We recruit Hollywood stars to entertain the politicians, and we recruit powerful political figures to entertain the stars. Corporate bosses bring in advertisers to gawk at the display, and journalists lucky enough to score invitations fancy themselves celebrities.
Cee Lo Green sings for us. Seth Meyers tells us jokes. Lindsay Lohan’s ex, Samantha Ronson, is our DJ. All the cool kids “” Sean Penn, Kate Hudson, Steven Tyler, Paula Abdul, Courteney Cox, David Byrne and Bristol Palin “” want to party with us. A Johnnie Walker “cigar tent” furnishes us with scotch and hand-rolled stogies. We are handed Fiji water, or Grey Goose vodka, to slake our thirst and Shea Terra Organics Vanilla Body Butters to soothe our pores.
The correspondents’ association dinner was a minor annoyance for years, when it was a “nerd prom” for journalists and a few minor celebrities. But, as with so much else in this town, the event has spun out of control. Now, awash in lobbyist and corporate money, it is another display of Washington’s excesses.
There are now no fewer than 20 parties, plus a similar number of receptions, at the Washington Hilton before the dinner….
But the cumulative effect is icky. With the proliferation of A-list parties and the infusion of corporate and lobbyist cash, Washington journalists give Americans the impression we have shed our professional detachment and are aspiring to be like the celebrities and power players we cover.
My late colleague David Broder once recalled how, when he began newspapering in mid-century, journalists embraced the credo that “the only way a reporter should ever look at a politician is down.” He said they “prided themselves on their independence, their skepticism, and they relished their role in exposing the follies and the larceny of public officials.”
Is it any wonder that reporters have increasingly become stenographers for those they cover (see Must-read (again) study: How the press bungles its coverage of climate economics “” “The media’s decision to play the stenographer role helped opponents of climate action stifle progress”)?
At least one good thing came from the journo prom:
- Must read Newsweek stunner: Why the “status quo” establishment media’s coverage of global warming is so fatally useless