White House correspondents just want to have fun.
That was the message that members of the media and others making the rounds at Friday night’s parties had for Tom Brokaw in the face of his renewed criticism of the Correspondents’ Association dinner.
“As a former White House Correspondent, it’s really nice for people in politics and media to come together and have a little weekend of fun,” MSNBC host Alex Wagner told POLITICO at a reception at the Hay Adams hotel. “I understand the idea of the ‘celebrification’ of the event but I think it’s more of a testament to how interesting and compelling Washington politics is to the outside world.”
Brokaw touched off the debate over the dinner when he told POLITICO’s Patrick Gavin in an interview that he won’t be attending this year’s gathering and that the last straw for him was when Lindsay Lohan was invited in 2012. The veteran newsman bemoaned the number of celebs at the dinner and worried how it all looks.
“What kind of image do we present to the rest of the country?” Brokaw asked. “Are we doing their business, or are we just a group of narcissists who are mostly interested in elevating our own profiles? And what comes through the screen on C-SPAN that night is the latter, and not the former.”
Some journalists said they didn’t see any downside to the dinner on Saturday night and the weekend of parties and events.
New Yorker editor David Remnick, whose magazine threw a Friday night soirée on the roof of the W Hotel, told POLITICO he doesn’t think the White House Correspondents’ Dinner undermines the press.
“Look at what we publish,” he said. “Does it seem like it corrupts us?”
Yes it does.
What is interesting here is Politico didn’t bother soliciting some outside-the-beltway opinions. That’s like polling a NORML convention on pot legalization. Your results will be a little skewed.
There is a reason that cops and crooks don’t hang out together. Their occupations are mutually incompatible. Whenever the two groups mingle it is bad news for the rest of us.
The press is supposed to be watchdogs for the rest of us. They are supposed to keep an eye on our public servants. When the press and politicians join forces the inmates have taken over the asylum.
Numerous polls over the past few decades have consistently shown that public respect and esteem for politicians and the press is declining. Or perhaps “plummeting” is a more accurate term. This trend mirrors the increasing insularity and incestuousness inside Washington DC.
If the White House Correspondents’ Dinner was the only time that politicians and the media socialized together that would be one thing. But in recent years the line between the two groups has become blurred as the players keep switching back and forth between teams.
The WHCD is just a symptom of a much large problem.