I’ve always been revolted by the annual dinner of the White House Press Corps, but never more than this year — after the pompous umbrage the hacks have taken to the scathing monologue delivered at the dinner by comedienne Michelle Wolf.
The Economist‘s US correspondent is no admirer of the event, either, and has written an equally scathing commentary on it. Extract:
Calls for press-corps civility are in fact calls for servility, and should be received with contempt. Some might argue that insults do not deserve the same protection as investigative journalism, but that is a distinction without a difference. Anyone who wants to outlaw or apologise for the former will end up too timid to do the latter.
In open societies, self-censorship—in the name of civility, careerism or access preservation—is a much greater threat to the media than outright repression. The only person owed an apology here is Ms Wolf, for being scolded by the very people who invited her to speak, and who purport to defend a “vigorous and free press.”
Right on! But there’s a serious point here. Trump and his acolytes treat serious journalism with contempt. (See Jay Rosen’s splendid NYRB essay). Given that, why should they be entitled to civility or respect?