Seems I took a day off to recharge, or I was just being lazy...I could also may have fashioned a life, then lost it at the mall...Eh. So let's do some Tumbling and FaceBooking, and see what's up. What has happen this night? Nerdprom? Ah. White House Correspondence Dinner. Let's see if I can gripe about that.
I truly don't get it anymore. It's an event that was meant to celebrate and maintain the healthy relationship between government and media. A chance to break away from the necessarily adversarial nature of their roles. A chance for the press to stop holding government's feet to the fire, and just be whined, dined, and given a laugh.
You enjoy the humor of that last paragraph? That is the problem. It's just an old tradition. The press is regularly being wined, dined, and charmed by the powers that be. The media has a very friendly relationship, a very close one. Everyone is there because, it's expected. And it's important, because everyone says it is. An event Rich Little can MC is not that important.
Of course, some people enjoy watching the spectacle. That's fine. Many people do. But it doesn't take away from my own dissatisfaction and the apparent silliness of it all.
For instance, there is this star watching aspect that feels somewhat new to it, but it could be my faulty memory. It's supposed to be thrilling to see Scarlett Johansson meet John Boehner...Why? Movie stars and politicians...together! Listen. I'm already not watching the Oscars/Emmys/Grammys/Tonys, okay? I'd be more interested more interested if they were meeting in a committee hearing, discussing some national issue of personal importance to them. Instead we get this quasi red carpet deal. It feels so silly.
Yes. The White House Correspondence Dinner has a long a storied past. But that doesn't keep it from feeling like an awards show in the midst of awards show season. And I am talking Cable Ace Awards Show.
If having people like Stephen Colbert hosting was the norm, not an anomaly, the dinner would take on a new modern role. It would be a smart and sharp roast. A roasting of Washington. (Not to be confused with 1814 variation on the theme.) Then it would be a matter of Washington seeing if it can laugh at itself and it's faults.
But it's not about that. It's about laughing at safe jokes, jokes the Washington beltway approves. Jokes meant to steer you away from any serious thoughts about what the elected folk are doing the rest of the year. Jokes meant more to be a pat on the back. Jokes that make light of serious policy questions. Policy like drones and missing WMD's. Maybe when you see that the magic dies.
Watching Bush jokes his way through his failures should shake you.
Of course, I no doubt will eventually watch some of it. Best of clips will be all over tomorrow and at the start of the week. And, if anything good came of tonight it will be nigh impossible to avoid seeing it. It's hard to avoid the grand spectacle.
Wait! One more thing. It's called nerdprom by some the past few years? I think nerds everywhere should be insulted. I think any of us could pick out a better and less exclusive annual event to stand as a prom of sorts (Comic-Con, DragonCon, SXSW, etc.)....Just saying.
Charlie Pierce wrote a good piece excoriating the dinner. It just does get to feel sillier and sillier an event. It has because the overt presentation of what's going on behind the scenes in DC.
Also he notes what I came across in another piece. Thousands of dollars are being spent by news orgs and corporations to wine. dine, and impress, before and after the dinner. Celebrities are being paid to come to Washington and hang around and smile. All this as so many are getting laid off to save on costs.
The dinners are promotional events. It hits me as I see photos of Rachel Maddow (a long time journalistic favorite of mine) at these events playing bartender/mixologist. It's become part of the package. While she is skilled at it and may love it, it's a selling point, come to the party and get Maddow to mix you a drink.
But it helps get corporate advertisers to the event to get schmoozed. It gets the execs to come by. And it offers some glamour and entertainment. But is that what the DC correspondence offices are there for? ...Maybe that is all it really is about. Maybe it is.