After declining to attend last year’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, President Trump told Reuters last April he will “absolutely” attend the event in 2018.
“I would come next year, absolutely,” Trump said.
We hope he changes his mind.
Almost every April for the past century, the White House Correspondents' Association has held the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Presidents usually attend these soirees, along with other politicians and the upper echelon of the national press corps. The event, a benefit for college journalism programs, is a lighthearted affair featuring comedians poking fun at the powerful.
It’s also a complete embarrassment to everything journalism should stand for and should have died a quiet death decades ago.
Speculation about last year’s dinner increased to a fever pitch as Trump and his administration entered the White House with a distinct bunker mentality aligned against the free press.
No matter. The show must go on.
At least two media organizations, however, decided to take a (very belated) stand.
The New Yorker last year canceled the kickoff party it usually holds, and Vanity Fair declined to co-sponsor last year’s most exclusive after-party.
While it was commendable Vanity Fair and The New Yorker (which hasn’t sent journalists to the actual dinner in almost a decade) took action, only a wholesale cancellation of the entire spectacle will do. And it shouldn’t have anything to do with this president specifically. It’s the principle of the thing.
“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations,” George Orwell once wrote.
How, exactly, does one maintain that adversarial spirit when you’re hobnobbing with the very sources you’re supposed to be covering and jockeying for space on the red carpet?