Saturday, April 28, 2012

Celebrity-izing the press and the politicians they are supposed to perform journalism on

The White House Correspondents' Dinner, aka, the Nerd Prom, is both a symbol of the shallowness and corruption of our national press and an institution that significantly promotes that shallowness and corruption.

The Huffington Post reports in WHCD 2012: People-TIME, THR, New Yorker Parties Draw Media, Celebrity Pregamers 04/28/2012:

The 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner is upon us, which means media figures, celebrities, politicos and more are party-hopping all over the nation's capital.

Media figures kicked off the weekend by attending the People - TIME party at the St. Regis hotel in Washington D.C. Cable news broadcasters including Chris Matthews, Norah O'Donnell, Andrea Mitchell, Greta Van Susteren, Wolf Blitzer and Willie Geist got down with fellow journalists and celebrities. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Sam Feist and Rashida Jones were in attendance, as were "CBS This Morning" hosts Gayle King and Erica Hill. CBS Chief Leslie Moonves attended with his wife and "The Talk" host, Julie Chen.
The official dinner is on Saturday, but various sponsors do Friday night social events as a warm-up. Even Cenk Uygur of The Young Turks appears in the accompanying slide show, "at a red carpet event hosted by Google and the Hollywood Reporter" on Friday.

This is not to say every person who attends the White House Correspondents' Dinner or its related events will trim their reporting with getting an invitation to next year's version and/or its related events. But the Dinner has become an elite institution of sorts. Charlie Pierce links to another related slide-show which he thinks offers Several Dozen Signs of the Apocalypse Esquire Politics Blog 04/27/2012:

I present to you, in one single slideshow, many of the reasons why we are so very screwed in this country. I even like a lot of these people but, by god, if you were going to put together a diorama of a courtier press corps, you simply couldn't do better than this. A red carpet? A red fking carpet? For pundits? I mean, I like Ed Schultz. Truly, I do. The big mook's heart is in the right place, which is a fishing hole in South Dakota, dammit, not on a red fking carpet like he and his wife are the Newman and Woodward of the fly-tackle store. This photo with [CNN star] Wolf [Blitzer] looking as though [actress] Mila [Kunis] is telepathically fondling him under the table belongs in every journalism textbook in every university in America as an example of what a complete loss of your professional soul looks like. These people have lost forever any right to complain about bloggers's referring to them as The Villagers. Res ipse, motherfkers.
The New York Daily News provides their own slide-show of the White House Correspondents' Dinner's celebrity guest list 04/26/2012. Kim Kardashian and Lindsay Lohan are two of the biggest names this year. Pierce Broznan, Elizabeth Banks of Hunger Games, George Clooney, Dakota Fanning, Anna Paquin and Stephen Moyer of True Blood, Charlize Theron, Sofia Vergara, and Reese Witherspoon are among the invitees. And also Uggie the dog from The Artist. (Seriously!)

As a tool of governance, it makes sense for the White House to host such an event. It creates and reinforces social ties among the elite of the Beltway Village. And it makes media outlets and individual "reporters" less inclined to report stories that might displease the White House or embarrass other members of the celebrity media. So, if you take a leak of highly classified information from an Administration official and use it to write some glowing story about the Administration's performance on, say, Bin Laden's death, your chances of getting an invitation to the next year's Nerd Prom will improve. On the other hand, if you accept leaks of a low-level classified document from a Bradley Manning and use it to write a story that embarrasses the Administration, you may find yourself prosecuted under the Espionage Act.

Sadly, for many of our star "reporters" and pundits, the threat of not being invited to socialize with Uggie the Dog is probably more than enough incentive for them to tow the Village line.

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