Observations on an ethics fiasco:
1. I can’t decide if I regret not writing about Brian Stelter’s self-rebutting, smoking gun screed excoriating the President for not attending the annual White House Correspondents Dinner before the dinner took place, as was my original intention. It looks even more ridiculous after the dinner, which, as even a fool could have predicted, was a festival of Trump-hate. One reason I didn’t write it earlier was that I had written essentially the same post earlier this month, after two Washington Post writers criticized the President for not throwing out the ceremonial first pitch when the Washington Nationals opened their season. I wrote in part,
Boy, you can’t get much more intellectually dishonest than this. Gee, why wouldn’t the President subject himself to loud, open-air jeering from the majority of a crowd of 40,000, a demonstration of contempt that would be played over and over on CNN, MSNBC, NBC, CBS and ABC, with mocking commentary? What a puzzlement! I have no theories, do you?… Boy, I cannot imagine why President Trump wouldn’t be eager to walk into this trap. The dishonest authors of the Post article,
They want to see the President embarrassed, and are disappointed that he isn’t so foolish as to allow himself to be…
Well, I was wrong. You can get more intellectually dishonest, and CNN’s hack media critic, Brian Stelter, was just the man for the job. In an essay that managed to pretend that the journalists at the event, including him, hadn’t spent three years denigrating and ridiculing Trump personally and 18 months trying spin the news to drive him out of office, he wrote in part,
Presidents don’t always want to show up and tell jokes and socialize with the press corps, but until now it’s been a part of the job in the modern media age.
“Historically presidents have felt that it’s important to send the signals, both to Americans and to the rest of the world, that they support this sort of quintessential part of American democracy, the First Amendment,” correspondents association president Margaret Talev said on CNN Saturday morning.
Trump evidently believes it’s politically advantageous to snub the affair and hold a rally instead. “Big crowd tonight, will be live on T.V.,” he tweeted on Saturday morning.
Well, he certainly doesn’t believe it’s politically advantageous to walk into an event where he has a target on his back, and have to sit quietly with a forced smile while everyone laughs as he is humiliated and insulted. Until now, it has been part of the job of journalists covering a presidency in any age to display a base level of respect for the man in the office, because he is in the office. Before Trump, journalists could be expected to treat Presidents with respect at least for a single night. Not now. Who would not assume that last night’s dinner would be a Trump-bashing orgy whether he attended or not? Is Brian Stelter unethical beyond belief, or is he just stupid? I have frequently wondered, and his article made me wonder more. The President isn’t doing his job by not allowing vicious and unethical journalists to undermine him in a public display of contempt? I am grateful to the President for avoid such an embarrassment for the office and the nation.
As for Taley, whom we will hear more of later, what self-serving crap. The news media has disgraced itself and its mission, and neither President Trump nor any American citizen should support the way today’s journalists abuse their special status. Trump would be a hypocrite to help corrupt and biased journalists celebrate their poisoned craft, and to applaud while they pat themselves on the backs for misinforming, inflaming and dividing the American public.
2. Then came the actual dinner, and it was worse than even Trump could have imagined. Gee, Brian, now what do you say? Were you shocked? Really? You couldn’t see this coming? Can you see now that the President was wise—not that it took any great feat of analysis, though it was obviously beyond your meager intellect— not to force Americans like me—you know, those who respect the office and still are stirred when they hear “Hail to the Chief” no matter who the Chief is—to see the office denigrated and insulted while arrogant, entitled, ink-stained wretches guffawed? He had a duty not to attend. Do you understand now?
3. As I noted in yesterday’s warm-up, the hired entertainment, deliberately recruited from the cabal of anti-Trump cable and network comedy shows, delivered as she was expected to, and was uniformly vile, even to the members of the White House staff who were the journalist’s guests. The representative Ethics Dunce for the fiasco was Bloomberg correspondent and president of the association Margaret Talev, who dropped one astoundingly disingenuous statement after another to rationalize it.
“My goal in putting together last night’s dinner was to unify the room and the country around journalism and the First Amendment, and I shared what I believe about those subjects in my own remarks,” she said at one point. Yeah, having the President of the United States called a pussy, a Nazi, a racist, a misogynist, xenophobic, unstable, incompetent and impotent is obviously the way to do that. After Michelle Wolf’s ugly act was widely panned, Talev said,
“The association, by tradition, does not preview or censor the entertainer’s remarks. Some of them made me uncomfortable and did not embody the spirit of the night. And that is protected by the First Amendment. I appreciated Sarah Sanders for joining us at the head table and her grace through the program.”
- The organization may not preview the remarks, but when it intentionally hires a comedian from Comedy Central’s all-Trump-bashing-all-the-time “The Daily Show,” its president cannot credibly say “we had no idea she’d say those mean things!” And Talev would have made the same statement-winkwink!—if she had hired Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jimmy Kimmel or Alec Baldwin. Seriously, I think it’s great that the head of the journalists association lies like that. It helps dispel lingering illusions that Journalism is about truth any more.
- So anything that is protected by the First Amendment is appropriate content for the Correspondents Dinner….did I understand that correctly? Where were the race jokes, the rape jokes, the jokes making fun of the Parkland shooting victims? Where was the hard core sex? Or is bad taste only appropriate when it is directed at the President of the United States, his staff, and Republicans?
- Aw, that’s so nice that she appreciated Sarah! Here’s some of what Sarah had to sit politely and listen to:
“I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in ‘The Handmaid’s Tale.’ Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it….”
“Every time Sarah steps up to the podium, I get excited, because I’m not really sure what we’re going to get. You know, a press briefing, a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams….”
“I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies….”
“And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders, you know? Is it Sarah Sanders, is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders, is it Cousin Huckabee, is it Auntie Huckabee Sanders? What’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter….”
Hey, but Michelle Wolf didn’t make fun of Huckabee’s appearance, so it’s all just good fun ! Absolutely not! By the way, here’s Aunt Lydia:
Several commentators have suggested that the organizers of the dinner owe the President and his staff an apology. They do, but even if they had the decency to do it (‘What? Apologize for exercising First Amendment rights?’), it would allow the news media to get off cheaply for its true offense that this episode only highlights.They have stopped practicing ethical journalism. They need to apologize for that.