The Contrarian

“In the investment markets, what everyone knows is usually not worth knowing.”

The Annual Correspondents Dinner in Washington

This dinner is the annual event designed to present the illusion to journalists that they really matter to the politicians. Imagine, the alleged watchdogs of 315 million Americans can be bought with a ticket to an annual dinner. And they sit there, listening to so-called jokes, laughing or smiling politely, although they are the butt of many of the jokes.

Their so-called “news organizations” even pay for the tickets of top administration people who sit at their tables. Each side probably thinks they are spying on the other, getting some useful information. It’s a game.

Bob Garfield, co-host of “On the media,” criticized the annual correspondents’ dinner. On CNN he said it is ‘a sham.’ He said this president has given the media the least access, the least opportunity for questions.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Garfield on the dinner, headlined:

When The Watchdogs Wear Tuxedos, Politicians Rest Easy.”

GARFIELD: Well done. What story are you chasing tonight?

(Wolf) BLITZER: I’m not chasing anything. We’re here to have fun.

GARFIELD: Correct. CNN hosted New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, Texas Governor Rick Perry, a White House special assistant and a couple of members of Congress. CBS had HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan. The Washington Post had Transportation’s Anthony Foxx. NPR had Education Secretary Arne Duncan. Yahoo News had Attorney General Eric Holder. ABC had Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, whose department routinely ignores press questions about detaining and abusing American citizens at the border and lethal force against unarmed suspects. But Johnson and the others sat there in their tuxedos, offering nothing more to their news organization hosts than the basket of dinner rolls, in no jeopardy whatsoever of journalism breaking out. In the week leading up to the event, I asked Steve Thomma, president of the Correspondents Association, about the propriety of cozying up to the very officials his membership is supposed to be watchdogging.

STEVE THOMMA: Every reporter in this town who covers a beat, we all take people out to lunch or dinner. Either ’cause we’re already talking to them every day or we’re hoping they’ll return our calls and talk every day. And I just don’t have a problem with it. It’s up to every journalist what they do with their source. We’re just not going to get involved in that relationship.

GARFIELD: Abusive though it may be. This is an administration that has systematically stiffed the press corps for six years. Access is so bad the press usually can’t even take photos at photo-ops. Saturday’s dinner, putting reporters face to face with Obama for five solid hours, was by far their longest presidential encounter of the year. Yet, of course, not one question about Ukraine, immigration, the Keystone XL Pipeline, the budget, the NSA, the climate, the Mideast peace process or anything else. As for everyday opportunities to see the president, Thomma assured me that objections of the Correspondents Association and its allies have been duly registered at the White House.

For the entire article:

The president would make a good stand-up comedian. According to the polls after the event, his ratings for delivering jokes was ahead of the hired comedian that evening by a factor of 9 to 1. But the comedian had one good line, about people who remember when CNN was a news network. How true! My opinion is that you have to be over 60 years old to remember that. Even the CIA would watch CNN to find out what was going on around the world.

Today the CIA would only find out what political candidate is ahead in the hundreds of different polls. Anyone who wants important international news has to watch one of the foreign TV channels.