White House correspondents shouldn’t get stars in their eyes
Laughter can’t solve the many serious problems America faces at home and abroad. But it can provide comic relief from those ominous challenges.
So good for President Barack Obama’s gag writers for giving him witty material to deliver at Saturday night’s annual White House Correspondents Association dinner at the Washington Hilton.
The president approached the microphone at that star-studded soiree not to the strains of “Hail to the Chief” but to DJ Khaled’s rap hit “All I Do is Win.”
He then proclaimed: “Rush Limbaugh warned you about this — second term, baby — we’re changing things around here a little bit.”
Later, in mock reflection on aging into his second term, President Obama said: “I get it — these days I look in the mirror and I have to admit, I’m not the strapping young Muslim socialist I used to be.”
Certainly host Conan O’Brien seemed past his prime with this gagger:
“Also joining us is a congressman from New York named Steve Israel. That’s right — he’s from New York and his name is Israel. Now there’s pandering and then there’s pandering. That’s like having a congressman from South Carolina named Jesus H. Gun.”
At least Mr. O’Brien didn’t mine the ample ridicule material offered by our ongoing 1st Congressional District race. And at least Mr. O’Brien is in show biz.
Those White House correspondents, however, are in the news biz.
Yet Saturday night’s spectacle of media, political and entertainment stars again blurred the lines between journalism, politics and the modern celebrity culture.
A year ago on “Meet the Press,” former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw explained why he stopped attending the dinner: “If there’s ever an event that separates the press from the people that they’re supposed to serve, symbolically, it is that one.”
Last week, Mr. Brokaw told Politico: “I think any organization has to have a kind of self-policing instinct and what we’re doing with that dinner, as it has been constituted for the past several years, is saying, ‘We’re Versailles. The rest of you eat cake.’ ”
And when the folks who are supposed to be watchdogs on the powers-that-be become their lapdogs, the joke’s on all of us.