Pixel Tracker

Monday, March 18 , 2019, 4:11 pm | A Few Clouds 67º

 
 
 
 

Peter Funt: Saturday Night Follies Fall Flat for Donald Trump, Political Media

Saturday night is the loneliest night of the week, crooned Frank Sinatra, to which we can now add: and for presidents and the reporters who cover them, the most embarrassing.

Pick your spectacle.

President Donald Trump held a campaign-style rally in Pennsylvania to “celebrate” having survived in office for 100 days. He bashed the news media for more than 10 minutes, fell back on distorted campaign rhetoric, and even read the crowd his vulgar stump favorite: a poem called “The Snake,” a parable about the risks of helping strangers.

Analyst David Gergen, who has served as an adviser to four presidents, said on CNN it was “the most divisive speech I’ve ever heard from a sitting U.S. president.” He called it “deeply disturbing.”

Also disturbing, for profoundly different reasons, was the annual White House Correspondents’ Association dinner in Washington, which presidents traditionally attend and which Trump chose to skip.

It was a dreary event that underscored its own uselessness. The only remotely funny utterances by hired hand Hasan Minhaj of The Daily Show were his slams at the dinner itself.

He noted that few comedians wanted the job this year, in fact, “Don Rickles died just so you wouldn’t ask him to do this gig.”

After that it was a crashing embarrassment. For instance: “Mike Pence wanted to be here tonight, but his wife wouldn’t let him because apparently one of you ladies is ovulating.”

Meanwhile, in Harrisburg ...

“A large group of Hollywood celebrities and Washington media,” Trump told rally-goers hanging on his every word, “are consoling each other in a hotel ballroom. I could not possibly be more thrilled than to be more than 100 miles away from the Washington swamp, with much, much better people.”

Trump’s media bashing is despicable. Yet, the imagery at the Correspondents’ Dinner doesn’t help. Reporters shouldn’t be sipping champagne in black ties and gowns and snickering at lame jokes about the administration they cover 24/7.

The strained explanation by the WHCA that its event is really about raising money for scholarships is ridiculous. There are countless other methods of raising money, and much better ways of showcasing the winners than by having them don formal attire and parade across a stage without saying a word.

Even speeches by legendary Watergate reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein felt tired, as the duo spoke about knocking on the doors of potential news sources in the middle of the night. They identified the mission of reporters as seeking “the best obtainable version of the truth.”

That nuanced description of journalism is clearly too much for Trump. He railed at his rally that it’s all “fake news.”

To which Woodward said, almost as if Trump were seated at the dais, “Mr. President, the media is not fake news.”

It’s too late to worry about the labels; too late to hope Trump will change his act. But it’s not too late for journalists covering the presidency to focus on the difficult task at hand.

“Welcome to the series finale of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner,” Minhaj told the D.C. banquet-goers.

I’ll join Donald Trump in hoping that Minhaj had that part right.

Peter Funt is a writer, speaker and author of the book, Cautiously Optimistic. He is syndicated by Cagle Cartoons and can be contacted at www.candidcamera.com. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today!

Our professional journalists work tirelessly to report on local news so you can be more informed and engaged in your community. This quality, local reporting is free for you to read and share, but it's not free to produce.

You count on us to deliver timely, relevant local news, 24/7. Can we count on you to invest in our newsroom and help secure its future?

We provide special member benefits to show how much we appreciate your support.

Email
I would like give...
Great! You're joining as a Red-Tailed Hawk!
  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.