Donald Trump, the Twitter President, recently tweeted:
“I will not be attending the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner this year. Please wish everyone well and have a great evening!”
Of course, some have latched onto this, arguing that it reflects Trump’s growing public disdain for the press. That;’s understandable. Trump has barred some mainstream media outlets from press briefings — namely, those organizations he deems too critical of his inanity. However, unto itself, this dinner refusal might not be such a bad thing. If Trump sees it as a light and fluffy occasion and therefore dismissable, he may be right even if his overall reasoning is wrong.
Trump wouldn’t be the only one to dismiss the dinner. For example, in 2007 — well before the Trump administration — New York Times columnist Frank Rich called the event “a crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11 era.”
Indeed, to some, it’s sickening to see the press and the president semi-romantically entangled. Well, Trump is apparently not doing that. Being a narcissist, he only wants media that’s star-struck in love with him. It’s gross but true.
Whatever his decision ultimately means, it does seem to signify a change. As Wikipedia says: “The WHCA’s annual dinner, begun in 1920, has become a Washington, D.C. tradition and is usually attended by the president and vice president. Fifteen presidents have attended at least one WHCA dinner, beginning with Calvin Coolidge in 1924”
Obviously it is no longer 1924. Some speculate it’s more like 1984. Still, this may be one of the few good changes that Trump’s made so far. Let the media and the president be at war!
….OR, maybe it’s a more effective strategy to make it look like they are at war, so the press will appear more adversarial and therefore seems like it’s doing its job in a democracy. It could be a win-win for both Trump and the press, if you think about it (perhaps that sounds paranoid, but it’s alarmingly possible). On top of that, I wouldn’t say the public loses out much, either. No ordinary person needs to care about such fluff occasions. If they do, it could mean they are merely distracted.
Ultimately, what the American people need are a break from life’s Donald Trumps and the mainstream media. They need to look at where we’re collectively headed and ask, “Is this really worth it?” To me the answer is obvious, but people like myself are never invited to these fancy dinners, or listened to by the likes of politicians.
To be clear: I use myself as just one example here. Most people will never truly be listened to, because those in charge — those who are regularly heard — are heard simply because they preserve the status quo, including positions of power and privilege. Power exists primarily to serve power. The crumbs for the masses are, in a way, just a form of revolution insurance. While the media are sometimes capable of challenging injustices, they tend to keep up more with the Kardashians, while the rest of us often struggle to make ends meet. There’s a reason for that, and it’s probably not just ratings.
In closing: Donald Trump’s war with the press may be a defining moment in a downward spiral, but it’s at least a sign of weakness in the status quo. Even if it leads to the actual bloody apocalypse, sometimes you just need to clink your proverbial wine glasses together and say, “To the downfall!”