Politico Implores Trump Staffers to Attend Terrible Party

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The White House Correspondents Dinner sucks. It is a horrible pageant of insidery, elite circle-jerking and self-congratulation. It is presented by the people in charge of the mainstream media (and those who seek to attain the highest positions in the media) as a celebration of the free press, rather than what it really is: a glitzy party where you go to get free shit and hopefully get to take a selfie with celebrities.


Take Brian Stelter, a true king of the milquetoast, Both Sides school of media criticism, who described Trump’s directive to his staff not to attend as an “attack on the media.” According to Fox News:

Stelter praised the “value” of the event, acknowledging that it’s a fundraiser for journalism scholarships and a celebration of the First Amendment, along with being an opportunity for White House aides to “schmooze” with reporters. He called it a “tradition” for presidents that has been “put on pause” under Trump.

Heaven forbid that reporters might not get to schmooze with the White House staff, as if that isn’t already their job!

This is, to be clear, a completely false premise. White House reporting is not the only type of journalism, and the best journalism of the era is not being produced by White House correspondents. There is no grand purpose to the White House Correspondents Dinner; the scholarships exist to lend legitimacy to the whole sordid affair. It is a fancy party for journalists with no shame.

But the idea that the dinner is noble and pure is bought into by most of the premier outlets in Washington. Politico Playbook, perhaps the most insidery of insidery mainstream media projects (with the possible exception of Axios, which was founded by Playbook’s creator), included today a truly wild few paragraphs about Trump’s apparent attack on their cool party.

FREE ADVICE FOR TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS: TRUMP doesn’t want you to go to the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, but we have a different idea: Do what you want. If you want to go — do it. Your free time is your free time, providing you aren’t breaking the law. Just because the president seems intent on demonizing the people who cover him doesn’t mean you have to. Here’s a guarantee: You’ll be in this town a lot longer than he will, and your currency is your relationships — including those with reporters.


The funny thing is that this is pretty much true. The people who currently work for Trump will stick around in Washington, like brown grease splattered above a stovetop, until they become just another part of life, unnoticed and unnoticeable. It certainly is in these staffers’ interests to share drinks with Washington journalists, so that those journalists will continue to take their calls once they’ve moved on to representing polluters or drug companies at lobbying firms. But Playbook does not realize that what they’re describing is obscene.

MANY TRUMP OFFICIALS have great relationships with the press — and the White House benefits from that. The president might not care, but you should.


Why would you want the White House to benefit? Why are you advising Trump staffers to do anything that makes the Trump administration more successful? Are you trying to win the coveted Who Goes Nazi Award at this year’s dinner?

DARE THE WHITE HOUSE TO FIRE YOU for going to a dinner celebrating the freedom of the press. We bet you he won’t. The guy didn’t fire Bob Mueller! You think he’s gonna fire you?! It’s not like people are lining up to work in this White House. … Holler and we’ll save some seats for you.


I suppose it’s possible that this is a massive prank by Playbook to encourage these staffers to get themselves fired. It would be very amusing to read that some 28 year old jerk who went to Hillsdale College and now writes memos for Stephen Miller got fired because he was inspired to stand up to Trump on behalf of Politico Playbook. Alas, I do not think this is true.

Trump’s reasons for boycotting the dinner may be petulant, self-serving and a little bit fascist, but that does not mean the dinner itself is worthy or good, or that you are fighting fascism by supporting it and encouraging the fascist’s staff to attend. Please stop embarrassing yourselves. Everyone else can see what you’re doing, and no one likes it.

Splinter politics writer. libby.watson@splinternews.com