April 27, 2006

When the Press and the Politicians Are Too Buddy-Buddy

Posted by Eric Jaffa
Thursday March 23rd 2006, 7:26 pm
Filed under: Government, Free Press

I hate dinners in which journalists and editors laugh it up with government officials.

The following writer doesn’t like these dinners, either:

From GENE KRZYZYNSKI: Washington’s annual Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association dinner is Wednesday night, after which it might not be a bad idea to put the event on hiatus for a few years. Along with the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner and, yes, even the white-tie granddaddy of them all, the Gridiron. Out of respect for the troops. At least until the wholesale bloodshed subsides in Iraq.

If we are to take what the president of the United States said this week at face value, the carnage in Iraq will extend beyond when his administration folds up its tent in 2009. It’s unseemly, then, for these unctuously self-congratulatory schmoozathons of government and media elites to blithely continue amid a protracted war caused largely by their own collective shortcomings.

It was at the Radio-Television Correspondents’ Association dinner two years ago this week, in fact, that the low-water mark in tastelessness was reached when the president was interrupted by laughter and applause nearly three dozen times in 10 minutes for purported humor such as:

“Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.
(Laughter and applause.) …

“Nope, no weapons over there. (Laughter and applause.) Maybe under
here. (Laughter.) …”

Bet those lines went over big with loved ones of soldiers who have been
killed or maimed.

No wonder the Gridiron doesn’t allow camera coverage.

C-SPAN’s telecast of the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last year put the government-media commingling in especially high relief, including periodic glimpses of the Washington Post executive editor and the secretary of state sitting shoulder-to-shoulder and, in a most unbecoming way, repeatedly forcing stage-like laughter at the efforts of a comedian who, while at least tasteful, was, for the most part, in over his head and, well, bombing. Politesse, I guess.

What lingers is the question of whether shoulder-to-shoulder is exactly what the framers of freedom of the press had in mind or whether the public interest might be better served by a little more detachment.

The press should be adversarial to the government.

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