Query on White House Correspondents Association Dinner

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martha and colin at whca.jpgI am about to fly off to Germany and had to miss the celebrity-edged White House Correspondents Association dinner last night because of commitments out of town — but sounded like a lot of fun.
Obama’s comments about his relationship with Hillary and the “shoot friends and interrogate people” Dick Cheney would have been worth donning a tux in DC’s humid heat.
But I have a serious query — and I really don’t know the answer.
I was just told that many major news conglomerates “pay” many of the celebrities to attend the dinner and sit at their tables.
This is news to me. I thought most were there because they had an inner policy wonk driving them to the big night gala with DC’s top press corps and President Obama.
But are they paid? Is this really the case? I want to know.
It makes the practice of news organizations scrambling after high-ranking Obama officials to sit with allegedly high-paid move stars something that the nanny-gate censors should be looking at.
Regarding the adjoining pic, I know Colin Powell isn’t paid to attend the WHCA dinner — but not so sure about Martha.
Some of these folks are really paid? This is pretty gross if true.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

28 comments on “Query on White House Correspondents Association Dinner

  1. Paul Norheim says:

    You wouldn`t get furious if we called you E.J. (Everyday Jane)
    instead of POA, would you?

    Reply

  2. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Oh damn, I’ve been consigned to the “everyday joe” ranks. (Or, uh, if someone has upped the ante considerably, the “everyday jane” category.)
    My price just went up considerably.

    Reply

  3. steambomb says:

    POA at the press dinner? Priceless. Which brings an idea to mind. Maybe someone should start a process to get one or two normal outsider every day joes or janes into the press dinner. You ready for this? You could call it the POA Project. LMAO

    Reply

  4. Paul Norheim says:

    Bizarre indeed.
    “There was a conscious effort on our part to counter some of the
    criticism of The Inquirer as being a knee-jerk liberal publication,”
    Mr. Jackson said. “We made a conscious effort to add some
    conservative voices to our mix.” (NYT, link above)
    When people infamous for their legitimization of torture are
    invited to create “balance”, then you could as well invite a neo-
    nazi or a member of the Ku Klux Klan to calm the people who
    think that your paper is too liberal.
    “So, they`re attacking us for being biased, unbalanced? Now,
    let`s see what they say when we add David Irving, Charles
    Manson and a notorious pedophile to our mix.”

    Reply

  5. questions says:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/13/business/media/13yoo.html?scp=1&sq=philadelphia%20inquirer%20hires%20john%20yoo&st=cse
    Really bizarre comments from John Tierney and Harold Jackson, the guys who hired Yoo. They went to the same school. Woohoo! And Woo is conservative, while the Phil. Inq. is kneejerk liberal. And check out the paean to defending speech you hate — is that really Yoo’s problem? So that explains it all.

    Reply

  6. David says:

    The Philadelphia Enquirer, for god’s sake. Whoever made that decision knows how to do despicable really well.

    Reply

  7. Paul Norheim says:

    “JOHN YOO’S NEW GIG.
    The Philadelphia Inquirer has hired torture architect John Yoo, who believes the president has
    the authority to crush a child’s testicles if he feels like it. (…)
    A few weeks ago, Katha Pollitt noted that the architects of America’s torture policy have all
    gone on to live very comfortable lives, despite what they’ve done. The Inquirer’s decision to
    hire Yoo after the revelations of the torture memos makes that uncomfortable observation into
    something resembling high farce. Someone needs to tell the nearly two and a half million
    people in prison that if you’re jacking purses or selling drugs, you’re in the wrong game.
    Torture is where it’s at. Not only do you not go to prison, you get book deals and syndicated
    columns. Just make sure you ask the government’s permission first.
    — A. Serwer
    Posted by Adam Serwer on May 12, 2009 10:47 AM”
    ——————-
    A comment from The American Prospect
    http://www.prospect.org/csnc/blogs/tapped_archive?
    month=05&year=2009&base_name=john_yoos_new_gig

    Reply

  8. Misplaced Patriot says:

    Are you sure that the press doesn’t just pay for their seat at the table? That was my impression.

    Reply

  9. David says:

    Do I smell a bidding war here?

    Reply

  10. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “I would also contribute another $25.00 so you could take POA as your date”
    Egads.
    Do I gotta go in drag, or does Dan? If its Dan, ok, its a deal. But if I’m going’ in drag, its gonna cost you a hell of a lot more than twenty five bucks.

    Reply

  11. David says:

    Yes, POA, and it is a crime for which the United States likely can never atone, precisely because it is so devastating and includes things like very finely divided and aerosolized U-238 (I think that’s the isotope that can’t be enriched and is quite misleadingly referred to as “depleted uranium” – the only thing the ore is depeleted of is the other isotope, the one which is the key to inflicting instant death, rather than death by things like leukemia). Somebody correct me if I have the isotopes reversed.
    For those of you who think this environmental destruction and toxification of Iraq isn’t all that important, please go in search of a clue or two. Ain’t noboby winning this debacle except the profiteers and some deluded ideologues.
    Thanks for reminding people of this. It is a reality that will not go away, no matter how much it might be given short shrift in the official narratives and the “thinking” of the “wise elders” and other keepers of the consensus.
    A crime against humanity was committed in my name as an American citizen. I really, really don’t like crimes against humanity. The attacks on 9/11 were crimes, but they actually pale by comparison with what has been inflicted on innocent Iraqis, especially the children (and a high percentage of Iraqis are young).
    I salute every member of the service who tries to do right in the midst of this terrible wrong, and I really do understand that there but for a chronological twist of fate and an epiphany about US foreign policy in 1966 go I. I sit in judgment only on the perpetrators of this war crime.

    Reply

  12. Dan Kervick says:

    Nah, it already feels like summer here. The thing about spring in New Hampshire is that it’s very short. April is a period of convalescence that is like a long winding down of winter. Then next thing you know, you look up, everything has bloomed and it’s getting hot. We had a 94 degree day last week. Mud’s all gone too.

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    I don’t know, fifty bucks won’t even cover getting his driveway plowed so he can leave. It’s only May, you know, not even mud season yet in New Hampshuh.

    Reply

  14. susan says:

    Dan,
    I would happily kick in $25.00 to get you a seat,and, given all of Steve’s connections, surely a way could be found to get you invited to Christopher Hitchen’s house for cocktails.
    I would also contribute another $25.00 so you could take POA as your date.
    Get your bow tie ready.

    Reply

  15. Don Bacon says:

    Right, Dan, they’re going to pay you twenty-five big ones just to hear you tell them they’re wrong on the issues, and that people trump profits. Stupid, they’re not. So you can cancel that gym appointment.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    I hereby announce my availability for a seat at a media table at the 2010 WHCA dinner. Bidding starts at $25,000.
    I am told I am an excellent conversationalist. And I promise to train myself into better shape so that I will look pretty too.

    Reply

  17. rich says:

    ” . . . I thought most were there because they had an inner policy wonk driving them to the big night gala with DC’s top press corps . . ”
    Now, stop right there. Even you’re not quite that naive. Their inner-defense contractor, maybe, but not their inner policy wonk.
    In any case, the broader self-interest in social hobnobbing is there regardless of whether the payoff is in cash now or compensation deferred, or is doled out in th form of the prestige and relationships that confer valuable information, status and the next job later down the line.
    Not that there’s anything wrong with forming a community . . . just sayin’, there are advantages to being a strong member of the grapevine: when you know something and can drop a morsel of data into the right hands, you stand to gain something down the line.
    But am I surprised? Nuh-uh. They pay seat-fillers at the Academy Awards; of course the Press Corpse’s Dinner, which isn’t exactly a barn-burner, is also a facade. When it is worthwhile, it’s b/c Stephen Colbert is actually reading the Fabric Care Instructions Label on the Emperor’s New Clothes.
    Here’s my question:
    What does it say that they can’t even fill the room? About the cozy VillageMedia-EstablishmentPolitician ecosystem? Seems like folks have all been paid and unless there’s not something innit for them, the famous & hangers-on aren’t showing.
    I don’t mind a great social event. It’s always worth remembering what they’re for, and that goes for unofficial and official soirees.
    * * *
    One more classic example of the distinctly and gratuituosly Villagelike sensibilities was on display when Bob Schieffer opined yesterday that David Souter wasn’t worthy and wouldn’t be missed. Dday @ Hullabaloo nails Shieffer for the graceless Junior High resentments he displayed at the first opportunity:
    “I had no problem with the Justice’s legal work. But as one who has lived 40 years in Washington, I’ll be honest: I didn’t care for his attitude.
    He made it no secret that he hated the city, once describing his work as the best job in the world in the worst city in the world.
    Another time he called life here “akin to an intellectual lobotomy.”
    I’ve never known anyone who ever saw him outside the court. But now he’s leaving. I take it he won’t miss Washington – but my guess is Washington will hardly miss him.”
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/village-in-nutshell-by-dday-bob.html
    What we have here is a Justice on the SCOTUS, who did his job and did it well — but who didn’t socialize. And Schieffer wastes no time in sticking it to Souter for calling Washington, D.C. on The Game. Whether Souter kept to himself because he wasn’t comfortable overlooking the ‘arrangements’ or the social games or the self-interest — or b/c he just wasn’t sociable — isn’t really the point.
    What is key is that Schieffer, like Broder, allowed his own resentments — he won’t play with us, so we won’t play with him — to own Schieffer’s own opinions & behavior, to the point of excluding and publicly condemning a SCOTUS Justice for his “attitude.”
    Justice Souter had an opinion. That individualism was too much for SchoolMarm Schieffer to bear, let alone suffer in silence.
    * * *
    Critical thing is, Schieffer glossed over the issue: of course D.C. has tons of “smart people” — but that’s not mutually exclusive with Souter’s observation. Schieffer can’t respond to Souter’s incisive point that operating in D.C. can feel like an “intellectual lobotomy.” It’s the contradiction between the smart people and Teh mindbogglingly stupid spin, rationalizations and decisions that had to be hard for David Souter — and the rest of us — to take.
    After all:
    This is the city that asks us to believe that enforcing the laws on torture was tantamount “seeking retribution,” rather than justice against insidious betrayal of core duty to country.
    This is the city that invented “Dont’ ask; dont’ tell.”
    This is the city that eagerly reported that ‘X% of Americans would be willing to give up some of their civil liberties to be more secure’ — conveniently forgetting that no American has the power or the right to give up those Creator-endowed liberties.
    This is the city that can’t admit that torture is torture; as defined by law, history and American foundational legal & political culture — and that you can’t will it out of existence no matter how hard Diane Feinstein tries to hide the facts from the American public.
    This is the city that can’t understand that the same failure that got us into Vietnam illegally got us into Iraq illegally. Congress has the power to declare war; no legislation or judicial opinion can erase that responsiblity by saying a rubber-stamp hey-wait-for-me (ir)resolution will somehow serve the same purpose. Such around-the-barn reasoning (in the judicial, legislative AND executive) cheapens each institution and evades their sworn obligations to the country; it degrades the quality of the decision made, circumvents the spelled-out mechanisms that take us to war; and worst, of course, it fundamentally distorts & warps the structure of governance beyond what was acceptable to the signers of the Constitution. That’s the root cause of our error — and no ‘Pottery Barn’ foolishness can fix the catastrophe George Bush & Colin Powell laid on us — until rupture in our legal contract — in the country itself — is fixed.
    Bob Schieffer can get off it, drop the huffiness, learn a little humility — and start getting the news straight before he goes foisting off another hand-fed interview from Dick Cheney on the American People. Before November 2008, no one could find Dick Cheney or get him to say a word; now we can’t get rid of the guy even though the country’s left him to the dustbin of history.
    No one fought and died for America so that a few bureaucratic functionaries can pretend that torture is ok or valid or that torture really isn’t torture at all. Wormtongues.
    Not to be harsh on your socializing mellow, Steve — I think you should enjoy those events — but there’ve been lots of Garbage Rationalizations thrown around for not coming clean on torture, on the deep rotting vein of corner-cutting, self-interest and all-out violations of plain law, obligations both general and specific, and the public trust.
    Yet what do we get? Temporizing. Hedging. Comfortable Elder Statesmen who won’t stand up for their country, for the rule of law, or for the people who’re gonna have to pay the price of this wretched excess.
    I dont’ see any Men of Courage here. You can’t move forward until you address the crap that’s holding the country back. It’s that simple. We’re paying now because Ford pardoned Nixon, rather than allow a functional resolution of the issue. There is no healing unless we all know what’s gone wrong, and the designated system handles the problem. Anything less cheats us all, Nixon & Bush included.

    Reply

  18. susan says:

    Surprised that people might be paid to attend this event?
    Not me! It is the ONLY way anyone could get me to waste an evening in the company of some of the planet’s phoniest people.

    Reply

  19. Mr.Murder says:

    What a cannibal carnival it has become, at war time, no less.

    Reply

  20. TonyForesta says:

    Ha ha ha ha ha! The press in bed with the government is abhorent to any hope of a sound democracy.
    Laugh at this circus if you want, – but what this despicable charade exhibits is that the message-force multipliers in the socalled MSM are no longer legitimate journalists with the people bests interests at heart, – but paid and pampered parrots, perception managers, disinformation warriors, and propagandists for the government pimping whatever the government wants, framed in the governmentspeak language and platitudes, and and intentionally REFUSING to investigate, redress, hold accountable, or report legitmately on the governments policies and activities.
    Sickening!

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    We still wait for jobs to come back to the US? Wait on.
    The glamorous can afford to laugh BECAUSE so many jobs left the US, with more profits to their bottom line. Which is why our brave soldiers, facilitated by the grinning Colin Powell, didn’t die in vain.

    Reply

  22. WigWag says:

    Geez, you guys (and gals) are real party poopers!
    “What, are there masks? Hear you me, Jessica:
    Lock up my doors; and when you hear the drum
    And the vile squealing of the wry-neck’d fife,
    Clamber not you up to the casements then,
    Nor thrust your head into the public street
    To gaze on fools with varnish’d faces,
    But stop my house’s ears, I mean my casements:
    Let not the sound of shallow foppery enter
    My sober house. By Jacob’s staff, I swear,
    I have no mind of feasting forth tonight…”
    Merchant of Venice
    Act 2, Scene 5

    Reply

  23. Breckenridge says:

    Too much laughter and glamor while we still await for jobs to come
    back to the US is numbing. Cancel dinner and let’s fix our country.

    Reply

  24. Dan Kervick says:

    Actually, I’m surprised the glitterati don’t pay the WH Correspondents’ Association for the invite. Surely their publicists are grateful for the heft and gravitas these kinds of things add to their images.

    Reply

  25. Dan Kervick says:

    Although I acknowledge the one highlight of the Steven Colbert take-down of Bush, the correspondents’ dinner is an atrocious spectacle. It’s one wince-inducer after another. In the future, I would like to see currently serving government officials decline to attend. Good call for the New York Times in opting out.
    It was bad enough when we just had to watch our leaders and the “watchdog press” fondle each other. Now we the groping and licking is extended to include the Beautiful People too? Man, I’m glad all the people who count get along so well.

    Reply

  26. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Whats Powell doin’ yuckin’ it up when he has had a huge role in exterminating a few hundred thousand Iraqi non-combatants? Anyone been following the under-the-radar reports about we have done environmentally in Iraq? It will take generations for Iraq’s environment to recover, if in fact it ever does.
    The photograph is disgusting. Powell should be sitting in a gulag with Cheney and Bush as cellmates, and here he is rubbing elbows with the failed and inept Fourth Estate.
    Rome comes to mind.

    Reply

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