At least one member of the Fourth Estate has finally caught on to the sheer wrongness that is the White House Correspondents Dinner, that annual farce whereby journalists gush at the chance to hobnob with the very subjects they are tasked with objectively investigating. From Frank Rich's subscription-only New York Times column, via Editor & Publisher:
NEW YORK Tucked inside Frank Rich's Sunday column in the New York Times is indication that the newspaper will no longer attend the annual White House Correspondents Association dinners in Washington, which he calls "a crystallization of the press's failures in the post-9/11 era." He writes that the event "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows."
"After last weekend's correspondents' dinner, The Times decided to end its participation in such events," wrote Rich. "But even were the dinner to vanish altogether, it remains but a yearly televised snapshot of the overall syndrome. The current White House, weakened as it is, can still establish story lines as fake as 'Mission Accomplished' and get a free pass."
Rich mixed this criticism of the press in with regret over the death of David Halberstam this week, who Rich said it would be hard to imagine "yukking it up with Alberto Gonzales, Paul Wolfowitz and two discarded 'American Idol' contestants" at the dinner. "It's our country's bitter fortune that while David Halberstam is gone, too many Joe Alsops still hold sway," writes Rich, comparing the Pulitzer-winner to the now-forgotten Vietnam War cheerleading columnist.