It is now the day after the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner and, as usually is the case, there are a lot of people complaining about the event. What is different is who is doing the complaining. Most years it’s just conservatives who take issue with what happens at the event known as “Nerd Prom,” and rightfully so, as it’s mostly a night for the D.C. press corps to openly display its hostility for non-coastal Americans under the guise of it being a “roast.”
The 2018 affair went too far for many in the media, however, and they immediately took to Twitter to express their displeasure.
The story still has some legs it seems, as this showed up in one of my Tweetdeck columns a few hours ago:
Perspective: For the sake of journalism, stop the White House correspondents’ dinner https://t.co/oYJK28BJkU
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 29, 2018
The author of the op-ed piece is Margaret Sullivan, and she immediately gets to the big ethical problem with the WHCD, noting that it isn’t ever a good idea for journalists to “cozy up to the people they cover,” and then goes on to say that these days doing so is “close to suicidal for the press’s credibility.”
We obviously disagree on exactly how much credibility the press — specifically the political press in D.C. — has these days, but she does make some other good points.
Sullivan admits something that almost no Beltway member of the MSM will: that trust in them is “low” and that last night’s dinner seem to reaffirm the president’s frequent assertion that the media are “out-of-touch elites who don’t represent the interests of real Americans.”
The premise of her defense of the integrity of the political press is a bit much:
“Journalists do not present false stories. When they get something wrong, they correct it.
“They do their best to be impartial, and — contrary to what the president told his supporters — they aren’t out to get him but to merely cover him. They are not the opposition party.”
The mainstream media’s only evidence that they’re impartial is the fact that they keep saying they’re impartial. No objective observation of any random hour of CNN programming would leave anyone with the impression that Anderson and Co. didn’t have a side.
The notion that they don’t present false stories is itself a false story. Just last week the MSM ran with a couple of allegations against Admiral Ronny Jackson that were provided by a Democratic senator without anything to back them up. The Secret Service has already said that the allegations are false. True, some news outlets did run what could be called corrections. Reporting that something was wrong without admitting that you repeatedly reported the incorrect information isn’t really a correction, it’s a “make it all go away” ploy, especially when it’s done late on a Friday night.
To give you an idea about how delusional the D.C. press corps is about what they’re doing, CNN was given an award for their reporting on Trump and collusion with Russia, which thus far has turned out to be the biggest non-story of the past two years.
Sullivan twice refers to “the optics” of the WHCD, implying that it’s just the way things looked for one night, not really the way things are.
I’ve been monitoring and writing about the mainstream media for a very long time now. They have become an even greater interest in the Trump era. I spend a good chunk of every weekday watching the social media feed of networks, news agencies, and the individuals they employ. They are, for the most part, a clique of petty, catty Trump-haters who cheer each other on. We aren’t talking about optics, we’re talking about deeply-rooted animosity that is plain for even a casual observer to see. That is precisely what makes criticism of Saturday’s WHCD from within the ranks of the MSM so noteworthy.
Sullivan says that “the dinner may be fizzling out of its own accord,” which I find difficult to believe. The egos in the Beltway Media Bubble love this annual mutual virtue lotion massage. It’s the Oscars for the crowd known as “Hollywood for ugly people.” They aren’t going to let it wither on the vine.
It would, however, be great if they did stop it cold and publicly proclaim it is all for the sake of the integrity of journalism.
And it would be even better if they then got around to doing some actual journalism.