Tuesday, May 1, 2012

All Dressed Up...

Caption: Is this how to dress for the White House Correspondents' Dinner? Probably not.

Glenn Greenwald sums up the relationship between the politicians and the press in our nation's capital, in a discussion of how the Obama Administration rewards those who make it look good in the news:

This weekend, the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner was held, and it is — as Gawker‘s Hamilton Nolan explained in the best analysis ever of that event — the purest expression of the total blending of political power, media subservience, and vapid celebrity in one toxic, repulsive, and destructive package. It’s imperial rot — the Versailles virus — in its most virulent form. Of course, Stephen Colbert, in the best political speech of the last decade, used his appearance at that banquet in 2006 to clearly set forth the rules by which they function:

But, listen, let’s review the rules. Here’s how it works. The President makes decisions. He’s the decider. The press secretary announces those decisions, and you people of the press type those decisions down. Make, announce, type. Just put ‘em through a spell check and go home. Get to know your family again. Make love to your wife. Write that novel you got kicking around in your head. You know, the one about the intrepid Washington reporter with the courage to stand up to the administration? You know, fiction!

None of that has changed. When I first began writing about politics, I mistakenly thought that the bias of the Bush-worshipping establishment media was a pro-GOP bias. It isn’t (and it’s obviously not a “liberal bias”). That’s not how they function. They aren’t nearly so substantive as to be driven by any sort of belief or ideology or anything like that. Their religion is the worship of political power and authority (or, as Jay Rosen says, their religion is the Church of the Savvy). Royal court courtiers have long competed with one another to curry favor with the King and his minions in exchange for official favor, and this is just that dynamic. Political power is what can give them their treats — their “exclusive” interviews and getting tapped on their grateful heads to get secret documents and invited to White House functions and being allowed into the sacred Situation Room – so it’s what they revere and serve.

Dog Training The Press Corps
[links from original]

What is the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, and how do the politicians in power use it to "train" the press, as Greenwald put it? From that link in the Greenwald quote, Hamilton Nolan's opening paragraph characterizes it pretty well:

Do you know who knows that the White House Correspondents' Association Dinner is a shameful display of whoredom that makes the "average American" vomit in disgust, or, more likely, simply continue to disregard the findings of any ostensibly neutral journalistic outlet in favor of their own ideology of choice, because they have a fully solidified belief that the "mainstream media" is little more than a bunch of ball-lapping lapdogs to whoever's in power? Everyone. Everyone knows this. Even the members of the media who attend the White House Whores Despondence Dinner know this, deep down, whether they admit it openly or lie defensively about how they, the true professionals, can stand in a receiving line to backslap and shake the hands of politicians like groupies and pose for pictures with Ashton Kutcher and Alec Baldwin and Stephen Baldwin and Anna Paquin and no, it does not matter tomorrow, because they are professionals who would never be compromised by the fact that they just spent their favorite evening of the year joshing playfully with the powerful officials they are supposed to be afflicting and reveling in their close proximity to the celebrities that they wish they were.

Fuck the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner

It's hard to think of a more apt description. Taylor Marsh gave it a try, though:

AT THE 1% INTERSECTION OF ELITISM, access and insider greasing.

Pres. Obama at the Political Insiders Prom

Perhaps the most damning thing about this conclave is the name itself - it's supposed to be a fraternity of the press, not the people they cover. It's supposed to be about having a good time poking fun at each other. Yet, the one person most of us know of who has ever said something funny at this gathering was never invited back, because, ironically, he told the truth. That paragraph Greenwald quoted gets it right in ways most of the attendees are all too aware. The politicians and their other enablers control this form of access as they do most access in that town.

If you have to ask yourself why the DC press looks the other way when whoever is in power is getting us involved in useless wars as they make our lives progressively worse, then you have no idea how access is managed there. The politicians use it as a rolled up newspaper, and only the hardiest dogs disobey.


Dusty,Hells most vocal Bitch said...

They aren’t nearly so substantive as to be driven by any sort of belief or ideology or anything like that. A-friggin-men to that!

I loved this dude! ;-) Because I hate the Corporate Media.

But Obama was funnier this year, except for the damn dog-eating jokes which I found disgusting.

Cujo359 said...

You know, that's the trouble with humor - I assumed it was a woman-eating joke. Sometimes you shouldn't interpret art.

Anyway, I think that many in the press there in DC probably do have an ideology of some sort, but they're perfectly willing to ignore it in the name of "journalistic objectivity", which in this case is the willingness to not make waves in return for access. Beyond that, though, I can't think of any reason to disagree with what Nolan wrote.

Liberal Bias said...

It's a very good article! keep up the work!