The hubbub over Michelle Wolf’s White House Correspondence Dinner set, and particularly this Deadspin tongue-lashing delivered to snivelling worm Chris Cilliza, reminded me of a story from a few years ago. I think it illustrates both that this faux-outrage has always been around, but also that it’s gotten significantly worse.
After Stephen Colbert’s (in)famous WHCD speech in 200-whatever (I still love “He believes on Wednesday what he believed on Monday, no matter what happened on Tuesday. Eek barba durkel.” I might be misremembering that last part), I was taking a grad class where the professor was a correspondent for CNN.
Somebody in the class asked what he thought of the speech, and he said something along the lines of “The problem isn’t that it was mean or uncalled for, it’s that it just wasn’t funny.” Of course most of the class is nodding and “yes, yes”-ing, oh tell us, wise sage. Like this pompous blowhard knew the first thing about being funny. There were a few of us who looked at each other like we recognized it for the cop-out it was.
And it was a cop-out. But at least he recognized that it wasn’t OK to straight out tell people that comedians can’t be mean to politicians, so he had to couch it in “it wasn’t funny.” Cilizza and his ilk- Kurtz, Habermann, every snot-faced weasel at CNN - have gotten comfortable now just going straight for the “it’s inappropriate” fluff job.
So, Waypoint, how bad is political journalism these days? What can be done to fix it? For the international readers, what’s it like in your neck of the woods?