By Dave Andrusko
I thank Byron York and those members of the media not in the tank for the Democratic Party who suffered through Saturday’s miniaturized White House Correspondents’ Association [WHCA] dinner to tell us what actually happened and put it all in context. Referring to the first two hours of mawkish apple-polishing/self-congratulation, followed by a painfully vicious 30-minute “speech” by Comedy Central performer Hasan Minhaj that followed, York concluded.
[T] he media self-regard on display at the Hinckley Hilton Saturday was of a degree seldom, if ever, equaled at traditional Washington events — and that is saying something.
Here are a few thoughts, based on reading York along with a bundle of self-important stories written by members of the Media Establishment, along with watching a replay of Minhaj this morning.
First and foremost, with President Trump refusing to show up, the core of any of these dinners–whomever the President is–had been hollowed out. Filling the gap were faux-brave expressions of adolescent defiance mixed with the usual the-end-is-near-unless-we-bash-Trump-more filler.
The dinner was a collective group hug. To quote Jeff Mason, the Reuters correspondent who is this year’s president of the Correspondents’ Association, “We are here to celebrate the press, not the presidency.”
Emphasis on the celebrate.
Second, for the life of me I can’t find it online, but as I read the dead tree version of the Washington Post at home this morning at home, there was a story that talked about how attendees had to cover their faces when Minhaj was making particularly egregious slams. They knew C-SPAN was covering the dinner and they didn’t want to appear “biased.”
Third, Woodward and Bernstein were hauled out to give the gathering some gravitas and (one more time) to send tingles up and down their spines. Just think, these two men brought down a president. Sort of difficult to miss the message, wouldn’t you say?
Fourth, to quote from York’s very perceptive story,
“And that brings me to the toast,” Mason continued. “Tonight, we salute White House reporters. Please raise a glass to them, to freedom of the press, and to journalists here and around the world.” For a dinner dedicated to toasting the president, it was an involuntary change in tradition. (At last year’s dinner, Association president Carol Lee looked at President Obama and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, please raise a glass for what is by tradition our only toast of the evening: to the President of the United States.”)
And the nature of the toast wasn’t just because Trump was somewhere else–at a rally in Pennsylvania. It was a not-so-subtle nostalgic acknowledgment that Mr. Cool was gone, out on the hustings making $400,000 a speech and angling for a $60 million book deal.
Obama treated reporters like unruly junior high students, on his best days, even though they gave him reverential coverage, and was inaccessible for long, long periods of time. President Trump, for all his harsh criticism of the media (which they richly deserve) “has been wildly accessible to the press,” York noted. Which, of course, is one of those inconvenient truths for which Trump gets no credit
Finally, Mason insisted, “We are not fake news. We are not failing news organizations. And we are not the enemy of the American people. The WHCA is proud to stand up for all of our members. An attack on any of us, is an attack on all of us.”
To which one might respond, do you even scan the webpages of the major newspapers? If you did, Mr. Mason, you would see one after another after another after story/op-ed/editorial/”news analysis” which all have a single theme: President Trump is a menace to the nation, if not the world (if not the universe) and only a resolute press can save us all.
To which one might respond, “Lighten up, Francis.”