By Alexander Jasinski
This years correspondents dinner differed from years of the past, The President of the United States, Donald Trump did not attend. Could this have been a strong showing against what he views as the “Fake News” or rather a showing that this administration will be shielded in secrecy, out of the public eye and those who aim to show the public what is happening behind the curtain?
The dinner as it has been for decades has been full of lighthearted jokes and hard-hitting opinions by the most well respected and awarded journalist in our nation. Several journalists hit back against President Trump’s rhetoric about journalism being “fake news” “failing news organizations” and “the enemy of the people”. Journalist cheered and praised the defense of the 1st amendment and the freedom of the press.
Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the famous Watergate reports, gave influential speeches that should echo in the ears of all journalist and those who aspire to be journalist. They described the Watergate investigation as “the best obtainable version of the truth.” due to all of the great obstacles they faced in uncovering a scandal that rocked generations. Every scandal from that time since has ended with suffix “–gate” due to the monumental nature of the their reporting. Carl Bernstein said “not only to follow the money but follow the lies.” This time, more than ever, it is important to obtain the best version of the truth. Bob Woodward gave a stern statement that “very aggressive reporting is often necessary” and concluding with “Mr. President, the Media is not fake news”. Bob Woodward also referenced former President Nixon and his quote “ the problem with journalist is that they look in the mirror when they should be looking out the window.” Impossible to capture the true picture of these “grandfathers of the press” I highly recommend that you listen to their speeches in your free time.
Let us not forget the host Hasan Minhaj, a Muslim, who joked about the fact that he was actually at the podium. Hasan Minhaj made jokes of the entire Trump cabinet as none of these cabinet members attended. A ‘Daily Show’ correspondent and comedian did not veer away from calling Steve Bannon a Nazi and mocking Sean Spicer for telling a reporter to stop shaking their head. The host also joked about Trump being an agent of Russia several times during the night. Not even mainstream Media news organizations got a pass from Mr. Minhaj. From MSMBC, Fox News and CNN no one was safe from his jokes.
The Dinner minus the President and members of his administration being present was very routine for the journalist and members of news organizations. Few will remember President Trump’s absence from this event over the course of his administration as his remarks against journalism and news organizations will unlikely change. Let this White House Correspondents Dinner be a monument to the resilience of the press and a celebration of freedom of the press.