Friday, April 29, 2011

The Celebrity Press Prom - Updated

That time of year again when the White House Press Correspondents throw themselves a big party, or rather I should say when the power players of The Village throw a party for them. Years ago it wasn't much noticed outside of the DC establishment, rating perhaps a few paragraphs in the big newspapers. But now it's morphed into a gala, star studded event where the feted media stars breathlessly report each celebrity encounter on Twitter and numerous sites live blog gossipy reports and video from the scene.

Today, after giving us a rundown of the various parties, Dana Milbank announces he's going Galt on the sorry spectacle:

I don’t fault any one host for throwing a party, or any journalist for attending. Many of them are friends. There’s nothing inherently wrong with savoring Johnnie Walker Blue with the politicians we cover.

But the cumulative effect is icky. With the proliferation of A-list parties and the infusion of corporate and lobbyist cash, Washington journalists give Americans the impression we have shed our professional detachment and are aspiring to be like the celebrities and power players we cover.
Um, Dana, it's not just the party that gives us that impression. Following any major media celeb's twitter feed solidifies that every day. And yes, there is something inherently wrong with "savoring Johnnie Walker Blue with the politicians" and that's especially wrong because they're friends. Because once you're friends, it tempers your coverage. It just does, as even "The Dean" admitted in his early days:
My late colleague David Broder once recalled how, when he began newspapering in mid-century, journalists embraced the credo that “the only way a reporter should ever look at a politician is down.” He said they “prided themselves on their independence, their skepticism, and they relished their role in exposing the follies and the larceny of public officials.”
Those days are long gone. Now the news cycle runs on meaningless, ginned up controversies based mainly on single quotes taken out of context. Yet the press corps has lately taken the affection of calling WHPC's extravaganza, the "Nerd Prom," implying the fascination with the horserace somehow conveys serious wonkery on actual issues. This from my morning cruise through Twitter sums up the absurdity of that:
Jamison Foser: Hate the term #nerdprom. Political media are more Heathers than Nerds. #dontflatteryourselves
Which brings us back to Dana's going Galt on the affair:
As I began to do the RSVPs for a few of this year’s parties, I thought about what our hardbitten journalistic forebears would make of Cee Lo and SamRo and the Donald. Then I made other plans for the weekend.
Call me cynical, and would be happy to be wrong and find out that he's done it on principle, but my first thought was he didn't get invited to one of the A-list events and decided to cover his disappointment by not going at all. But I will give him some credit for chiding his colleagues, however mildly.

Update: I rest my case. Didn't follow the hashtags this year but I'm sure they'll be revealing.

All I'm saying is DC journalism is morphing from a profession into a party. Don't begrudge them the fun. Doesn't make them bad people, but that level of familiarity fairly negates any claim to being impartial witnesses. It just does.

[Big thanks to Michael J.W. Stickings from The Reaction for the kind link at MIke's Blog Roundup. If you're not reading him regularly, you're missing out.]

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5 Comments:

Blogger Keith said...

When did Dana "Mad Bitch" Milbank grow some integrity?

11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Batocchio said...

Milbank is a tremendously smug douche, but he does have his occasional moments of insight and candor.

6:25:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Dana got enlightened when he became a victim of the Banksters foreclosure scams when what should have been a standard refi turned into a tiresome mess.

He has been writing some good stuff of late, but I'm still not letting these guys get away with saying there's nothing inherently wrong with being drinking buddies with those they're supposed to afflict.

It's part of the problem. It just is.

8:28:00 PM  
Blogger Batocchio said...

You'll enjoy this if you haven't seen it yet.

4:10:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

I did see that but it never gets old. Made me LOL all over again.

5:55:00 PM  

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