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On the Deep Grammar of the White House Correspondents Association Dinner


On the Deep Grammar of the White House Correspondents Association Dinner

Jay Rosen

Have you ever come to know members of a family who collaborate in staying silent about something bad that happened in the past, something no one wants to talk about because to talk about it would probably tear the family apart?


The event at the center of this neurotic system: the failure to detect a phony case for war in 2002 and 2003 and more generally to challenge the Bush forces after 9/11.

Change the word “failure” to “refusal” and you have an accurate statement.



" The result is that serious talk about certain subjects are off limits".

All the Washington presstitutes care about is access. The real truth, like Obama’s, illegal death drones and the inside job of 9/11 are subjects that are off limits if you want to keep your access; your lucrative paycheck and remain a presstituted correspondent. This is a dinner for the Judith Millers of the world; a room full of the Ministry of Truth news people.



Indeed. To speak about the “mistakes” the press/media made is to skirt around the TRUTH that the entire 911 show and all that came after–as a direct and well-planned set of protocols was CALCULATED.

When Mr. Rosen uses the dysfunctional family analogy it pushes the idea of “individual journalistic responsibility,” a derivative of People Magazine style Popularity Politics. Both miss the quintessential truth: that our media is owned and corporately controlled as are our national elections. Mass media’s top-down structure compels those with jobs to adhere to directly spoken or otherwise fully recognized restraints on “impolite” (which is to say holding Power to account) conversation and related reporting.

News that there’s a virtual open season on journalists in and near war zones added to an open season on important Environmental Rights activists (particularly in South America) add to the tone of control, intimidation, and censorship that now abounds. The fate of a number of inconvenient truth tellers–Drake, Kirakou, Manning, Assange, and others lends further proof to this assertion.

Treaties like TPP and TIPP are the final “cherry” on the cake. They allot to corporations their own “rule of law” and the “right” to interpret and arbitrate legal findings. Entire nations–and that means any romantic notion of rule BY The People–lose their sovereignty to this latest assault on humanity and nature.

All this is sure to be fun for all. But Mr. Rosen is darting around the edges in much the same way that his essay’s contents purport to expose.


A Deep Secret hidden in the joviality-fest Correspondents Association Dinner is the Great Unspoken: many correspondents and politicians know there’s a line correspondents will not cross when appearing to strongly question presidents, members of the House and Senate, corporate big-wigs. The vicious message sent to Helen Thomas let her timid colleagues know what was in store for them if they crossed the Big Red Line. Our “correspondents” pretend to ask tough questions, their subjects pretend to give clear responses and the dance continues, often without follow-ups for clarification. The political class has learned the Fine Art of Obfuscation so dear to the legal and propaganda professions. Thin-Skinned by nature, they openly bristle when challenged and signal, “You’ve gone far enough.” Just watch President Obama’s raised-hand gesture to cut off some unappealing question or allegation. How many at the recent Dinner have condemned or would condemn whistleblowers such as Snowden, Manning and the many others who have risked all to come forward with information unpleasant to the powerful? Only the most innocent child or heroic reporter would dare say, “The Emporor is buck naked!” Our current four-day complicity fest may eventually be stretched into a week-long joke-a-thon, because the message is, “We’re all in this together. Let us eat cake!”


It wasn’t a “failure” to detect a flawed premise for war. It was a wholesale sellout to the war dogs and their financial benefactors. Nobody was whipping the country into a war-frenzy like the Beltway media. And the few voices who called for caution and skepticism - like Phil Donahue - were either reined in or fired. If you want to know who you can trust in reporting, look at who wasn’t there, deliberately, people like Amy Goodman.

BTW, did anyone else think Cecily Strong was only so-so last night? I really thought that the entertainment should have been someone like Comedy Central’s Jessica Williams, but that might have gotten a little too close to the truth. My standard for a great set at that event is still Colbert, which is why something like that will never, ever happen again.


What the article didn’t recount was the parade of Glitterati into the grand venue. I watched briefly until it became too much, one camera was on Donald Trump, the “journalist”, I guess, for what seemed an eternity. It reminded me of the gala at the Academy Awards. MSNBC even cut into its never ending prurient Caught on Camera series to cover the spectacle. Farce pure and simple, and another revealing snapshot of the Courtier Class. No one wore I. F. Stone threads.


Thank you for your perspicacious reply. Very well said!


The White House correspondent’s dinner is just another grotesque D.C. kabuki dance. Larry Summers’ admonition to Elizabeth Warren, upon her entry into the snake pit called Washington, D.C, explained it all with surprising candor. Outsiders are never listened to, and to become an insider, the first rule is to never criticize another insider. Any critical thinking person can easily observe the off-the-charts level of dysfunction of the self-congratulatory ruling multinational elite insiders. No wonder it’s forbidden to get anywhere near the truth on many critical subjects and events.

I believe it is Russ Baker who pointed out that George H.W. Bush has for his entire career kept two sets of personal appointment “books” - one of the real events that occurred on those days, and one “official book” with innocuous cover story events should the former come up in public somehow. I would guess that other high ranking elites do the same, but I don’t know for sure. The annual WHCD serves to celebrate all the cooked up events for outsiders that have happened in the past year, that show up on those “second sets” of official ruling elite appointment books.


Thanks back at you. Could the times be any more insane and inverted? Yesterday’s quake shook the blessed Buddhist temples of Nepal.


Armybrat, that simple word, propagandist, aptly sums up all the comments on this article. Eliminate the word correspondent when describing the MSM. From now on propagandist is the word. Spread this apt terminology wide and far; Propagandist, propagandist. Say it with a smile for yourself and a knowing smirk at the Propagandist. Hallelujah, for the new meme!


Hard to say what was most offensive about that grotesque show, but my pick is Obama’s embarrassing duet with his “anger translator.” With the stresses of climate change evident everywhere, our prez does a routine in which he plays being angry about the “stupid” legislators denying its reality. Nice to know we don’t have to take him seriously when next he riffs about climate.


The propaganda includes fables about why mainstream media’s audience is shrinking when the real reason their audience is shrinking is that more and more members of their former audience come tdo the realization that what passes for news is indeed propaganda.


One massive display of ego and narcissism at a time when the seriousness of issues we face as a civilization escalate in number and size.

Either it was sick gallows humor or complete tone deafness to the suffering of human beings aided and abetted by many of those in the room.


Sorry, Joe, but I think that was one of the better moments. I think the president is in alignment with most of us, and that he used the humor of the situation to fire a good shot across the bows of the climate change deniers in congress, that they are indeed being crazy, stupid, short-sighted, and irresponsible. I think it was a good way warn he was going to be real serious about the environment from now on.

Of course, I could be wrong. There are major contradictions to be resolved between the imperatives of climate stabilization and the supposed “imperatives” of neoliberal Capitalism. On the surface at least, it seems that the president has not resolved these contradictions in his own mind. I saw his weekly video (on the TTP), and was in no way persuaded that it will not create massive additional impediments to crucially needed strengthening of environmental regulations and controls. I’m still waiting for President Obama’s explanation of why these concerns are inappropriate.


They have been doing it again with Ukraine. Russia reclaimed Crimea after a vast majority of the residents voted to rejoin Russia – following the illegal overthrow of the elected Ukraine government by U.S.-paid agitators – and that annexation is labeled as “aggression.” When Russia conducts routine military exercises within its own borders, the U.S. labels that as “provocative,” but when the U.S. conducts huge military drills along the Russian border that’s reported in the U.S. as merely being prudent defense policy. And the Western media establishment describes it all in the Pentagon’s own language, as usual. By the way, in light of the latest Hillary Clinton scandals, isn’t anyone in the Washington media going to take another look at Joe Biden’s son being appointed a director of the biggest Ukrainian energy company? No . . . ? Not interested? Nobody? Funny how that works. I suggest that the next Washington Correspondents Dinner be held in Kiev, with travel, accommodations and other bribes being furnished by the new Kiev regime. It seems only fair.