Monday, April 30, 2018

Overshooting the mark: journalism is in trouble.

On Saturday night, I was online watching a bit of the comedian who was the featured speaker at the White House Correspondents Dinner. In most years past, although all speakers take jabs at politicians and press in attendance, the spirit is generally one of detente, and the jokes that are made tend to skew to the friendly/jesting side of the spectrum, fostering a sense of shared purpose. One of the best examples of this was when George W. Bush took the podium to give some semi-humorous remarks with a comedian who bore a strong resemblance to him and who translated the remarks from the original. Bill Clinton also set a high bar, too.The effect was self-deprecating and good-natured, and set all at ease, because the occasion was actually to raise funds for scholarships for future journalists. Oh, and he and his impersonator managed to be, you know, actually funny without insulting anyone or venturing into blue territory.

Famously, President Trump skipped the second WHCD of his presidency for the second time. After all, he can hear punitive attacks from the media and celebrities-- ad hominem and otherwise-- 365 days per year, so why should he subject himself to being a captive audience to endure more of the same? If you want confirmation that he was right to skip the event, check out the video on YouTube that is entitled "Trump Destroyed by Comedian *name* at 2017 White House Correspondents Dinner." Apparently detente and gentle chiding are off the menu for WHCD. So, remind me again why anyone thinks Trump should attend? 

This year's WHCD was in keeping with the tone set last year by the WHCA with the 2017 speaker. When I heard the first jabs at Sarah Sanders, I thought "I guess Kathy Griffin wasn't available?"  As the comedian lobbed one vicious barb after another, it suddenly struck me that perhaps the comedian was actually hired by Trump to confirm what he has been telling the public about the extreme bias of the media, because her tirade couldn't have been a better campaign ad for Trump if she had begged people to vote for him in 2020. It turns out that she works on The Daily Show, which is an infotainment show that lazy people conflate with actual news, one that shills for whoever is running against a conservative for anything. Indeed, the comedy routine was so heavy-handed and polarized that I could just imagine how giddy Trump would be made by the bog-standard affirmation of what he has been saying all along about media bias. So, yes, I think she and whoever opted for a Daily Show writer for that occasion must secretly long for four more years of Trump, because this is part and parcel of how they will get four more years of Trump.

Then again, if the peace is confirmed to be finally brokered by Trump in Korea, four more years of this may not be a bad thing. 

ON FURTHER REFLECTION  (written one day later): Considering how much of Donald Trump's schtick was been predicated on yuge spectacles, this "roast" was probably in keeping with the political tenor of the times. I am a fan of vulgar humor, certainly, but I guess I am disappointed by the lowest-common-denominator face that is put forward by the WPCA. Although humor is notoriously difficult to write, it seems that the presentation could have been more sophisticated. If the goal was to shame or humiliate the president, I think that would have been more effectively done by out-classing him, rather than rushing to play the tune he's called out so effectively. Considering how the eyes of the international community are on the WPCA, vulgarian efforts to distance themselves from an embarrassing administration seem only to confirm that all strata of the American political spectrum are tacky and resolutely low-brow. 

1 comment:

Vinogirl said...

Well said.