The White House press corps used to be made up of the creme de la creme of Washington journalists. It was the most coveted job in the business, even before the onset of television networks turned reporters into celebrities.
What is it now? Well, they have their very own headquarters office in the White House and their own little club — the White House Correspondents Association. And every year they put on a black-tie dinner where national celebrities mingle with media celebrities and the line between entertainment and news is further blurred.
The notion that they are “journalists” in any fundamental understanding of the word has been abandoned. They have become caricatures of a free press — to the detriment of the people and the government of the United States. Philip Freneau would be turning in his grave if he could size up this gaggle of gossiping, grasping, power-mad mini-Napoleans.
And Freneau would instantly recognize them. He played the partisan media game better than anyone ever has. He did Thomas Jefferson’s bidding in attacking his political rivals, including driving Alexander Hamilton to distraction, and committed the sacrilege of attacking George Washington himself. He was unfair, partisan, and unscrupulous — and utterly fearless.
This bunch whines if the latte machine isn’t working.
I suppose it’s not surprising that many in the media have expressed open admiration for White House press secretary Jen Psaki. She’s nice to them. She doesn’t call them names. And her lies are palatable because of it.
ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jon Karl told The Washingtonian, “She takes questions from everybody,” says Karl, who has covered four presidents and more than a dozen press secretaries. “She doesn’t get rattled. She doesn’t lose her cool.”
“She’s a pro, you know?” says Peter Baker, chief White House correspondent for the New York Times, who has covered the Oval Office since Bill Clinton occupied it. “She’s unflappable.”
It’s easy to be “unflappable” when the people asking you questions are polite and ask questions in a reasonable tone of voice while not accusing you of working for Satan himself.
While Trumpites gleefully performed belligerence on camera, Psaki’s tone is measured and warm; if you’re a reporter hoping for any insight from her, she’ll ask after your kids or your spouse and then politely decline to help you with whatever story you’ve got in the works. “She’s firm and sunny, and she can generally make people feel good about their interactions,” the White House reporter explains. “And she’s never going to be super-helpful, and that’s frustrating, but that’s kind of her job. It’s one of those weird things where you leave the process feeling good about it even though, when you hang up the phone, you realize: F—, she said nothing helpful.”
That piece of overwrought fluff was written by Jessica Goldstein, a contributing editor at the publication. Psaki should hire her as a publicist.
Andrew Stiles at the Washington Free Beacon
When Democrats are in charge, for example, our noble journalists can’t help but be consumed by “The Awkward Feeling of Rooting for the White House Press Secretary.” So reads the headline of a Jen Psaki profile published in Washingtonian magazine. Members of the White House press corps, writes Jessica M. Goldstein, are “quite taken with how polite she is,” while casual viewers are “wooed by what one could describe as little more than competence porn.”
Perhaps the journos themselves are equally wooed by Psaki’s “competence.” Erik Wemple, media critic for the Washington Post, posted a link to the profile on Twitter, the popular social networking website. “Reporters blindsided by the return of competence and civility to White House briefing room,” he remarked, pithily. Donald Trump is to blame, obviously.
It’s not that this Psaki-worship is so unexpected. It’s that it’s so openly contrary to what a “journalist” is supposed to be. The reporters can’t plead ignorance. Most of them are graduates of prestigious schools of journalism where it’s presumed they were taught about the “adversarial” relationship between those in power and those reporting on them and that it was a healthy part of democracy.
When those responsible for keeping an eye on the henhouse end up making love to the fox, America is in trouble.