We aren’t big fans of the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner. The black-tie event has deteriorated in recent years — too many celebrities and too many classless comedians telling off-color jokes.
The event is intended to promote comity between the president and the White House press corps. However, President Trump declined to attend for the third year in a row. He called last year’s dinner “a total disaster and total embarrassment to our great country ...”
He wasn’t too far off.
But this year’s event, held this past Saturday, was a refreshing change. The organizers of the event opted to have esteemed historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ron Chernow address the crowd instead of a comedian.
We encourage our readers to check out Chernow’s speech which is easily accessible online. It’s well worth watching for its much needed historic insight on relations between the press and president. It is the kind of civics lesson the country needs right now.
Chernow stressed that while presidents often take issue with the way they are covered by the media, that contention should not be an excuse to do away with civility, or to attack the profession of journalism itself as Time noted.
“I would like to keep alive tonight the fading memory of more civilized dealings between chief executives and the news media,” Chernow said, “We must recall that civility has been an essential lubricant in our democratic culture, and that our best presidents have handled the press with wit, grace, charm, candor and even humor.”
Chernow mixed in some humor in his remarks but it was tasteful and respectful. More importantly, his powerful speech was a timely rejoinder for a more civil relationship between the press and the president.
We applaud the organizers of the event for breaking with tradition and bringing in someone of Chernow’s stature. It is something they should stick with going forward.