The following is an excerpt from my newly released book, How Trump’s Politics Changed the Mainstream Media and Why He Continues To Drive Them Mad available on Amazon. This section describes how the last White House Correspondent’s Association symbolically marked the beginning of the end for the political media.
How fitting for the mainstream media that it should end where it all began: the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner. Over the years, this event has become for journalists a gala of self-indulgence — a public forum for their collective virtue signaling and expressions of self-regard. At the 2011 dinner, then President Obama, mocked one well-known person in the ballroom by noting the man in question was exploring a run for the presidency. Much laughter ensued. Some say, at that moment, Donald Trump made the decision to throw his hat in the ring.
If Obama could have only foreseen the future, the revelation would have wiped the smirk off his face, as five years later, the object of his ridicule that evening, would be dismantling his “legacy” brick by brick. In a display of poetic justice, it would be Trump who had the last laugh that night. For as they say, he who laughs last laughs best.
Nine years later, all the beautiful people of the political media establishment were once again gathered for the 2018 jovial affair. The only thing missing was the White House part of the White House Correspondents’ dinner. The man who was the subject of Obama’s quip at the 2011 event, was now president and decided, wisely, to skip the event — for the second year in a row.
President Trump’s nonattendance at the 2018 dinner, didn’t prevent members of the media, resplendent in their formal evening attire, from yukking it up among themselves in the ballroom, hobnobbing with Hollywood celebrities and other members of the jet set. The assembled multitude of political journalists in the room were all self-absorbed, quite pleased with themselves as valiant watchdogs, holding a repressive president Trump at bay.
Members of the Mainstream Media-Democratic Party-Complex present in the room were political and cultural clones: all were unabashedly liberal; all were Obama progressives and all despised president Trump and fervently believed it was their sacred duty to help drive him from office at any cost. There wasn’t an original thought or idea among them.
At prior occasions, Obama had previously been the object of the journalists humor and while there were some good-natured and pointed barbs, the White House correspondents dinners during the Obama Administration retained a modicum of decorum and restraint.
But the atmosphere for the vilify-Trump show in 2018 couldn’t have been more different. The mood in the ballroom was combative and pugnacious. The individual who was supposed to be the object of good humor wasn’t present. The dinner was a pathetic sham.
The single most distinguishing and incongruous feature of the entire event was that the guest of honor was in abstentia. The comedian chosen, Michelle Wolf, a card-carrying progressive, took aim at the no-show president and instead of entertaining the audience with her wit, made the entire evening a tasteless orgy of Trump-bashing, all to the eager and riotous applause of a decadent audience of Washington journalists. Coarseness, masquerading as comedy, was the subject matter of the tirade.
Those who were watching on television, must surely have been appalled at the crudeness of the purported jokes as well as the nastiness of the delivery. The spectacle was beyond the pale and indicative of an institution in the throes of irreversible decline.
The political media, with their tasteless and contemptible comedian of choice, may have viewed the event as a joyous and festive occasion for maligning a president they deplored, instead, it revealed to the nation their true selves; it bared their souls. All were willing members of the Resistance. They believed it their duty to speak truth to power and hold the menacing and malevolent president Trump accountable. They fancied themselves the guardians of our liberties, toiling valiantly on behalf of a grateful public. The theme of the evening was the First Amendment; the choice of a potty-mouthed B-grade comedian purportedly an example of free speech in action.
The only thing worse than the vulgarity displayed by Michelle Wolf, was the correspondents, reporters, anchors and pundits who all laughed, with reckless abandon, at the “jokes.” Had they any sense of propriety or good sense, these elite members of the mainstream media should have voted with their feet.
For journalists, the 2018 correspondents dinner took place under a menacing cloud of profound transformation. The uncouth comedy of errors on display was a nervous reaction to a new political reality: the influence and power of the mainstream media under the new president began its process of terminal decline. Perhaps Obama himself presaged the beginning of the end for the mainstream media when he said to the journalists gathered at the 2011 event, “Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.”
The 2018 dinner was a signature event because it represented the nadir of the mainstream media’s corruption, their enormous self-regard, overt bias and insularity from the public, on whose behalf they ostensibly labor. The uncultured attacks against president Trump at that dinner brought to the fore the mainstream media at its absolute worst, indicative of an institution that had slowly and inexorably drifted into irrelevance.
By refusing to attend what had degenerated into a nauseating display of institutional narcissism, Trump sealed the fate of the White House Correspondent’s dinner as well as the future of political journalism. His absence diminished the event, perhaps irreparably. Michelle Wolfe’s performance had the beneficial effect of exposing the mainstream media as nothing more than a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party.
The final curtain on the media’s 2018 get-Trump show would be prophetic, for it would mark the beginning of the end for the assembled audience of smug, arrogant, out of touch journalists, who, from that moment on, would further corrupt an already incorrigible institution with their fanataic zeal to drive the president from office.
For the media, the moment Trump announced his candidacy in June 2015, the battle lines were drawn. The struggle would continue and intensify once he was in office. But, as Washington media elites would quickly learn, much to their chagrin, Trump was unlike any other president or any other Republican journalists had encountered. More importantly, he refused to play by their rules.
After the momentous 2016 election, it would be the Mainstream Media-Democratic Party-Complex that ultimately would be vanquished by the new Sheriff in town. The stupor this unexpected and discomfiting reality induced within the ranks of the political media would end up driving them, Stark Raving Mad…