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Journalists Go Green—But Not With Envy!

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Feb 8, 2010, Vol. 15, No. 20
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Journalists Go Green—But Not With Envy!

For years now, sensitive and intelligent members of the Washington journalistic community (we’ll name no names!) have wondered what makes the annual White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner so mortifying to decent people everywhere—such an embarrassment to the journalism business, to the city, to our great nation itself.

Is it the terrible food, the -watered-down drinks, the suffocating crowds, the cheesy ballroom? Or is it simply the self-importance of the thing—the spectacle of the nation’s political reporters dressing up in ill-fitting tuxes and ballgowns and demanding that the president of the United States come to their dinner, eat their food, and then do a stand-up routine making fun of himself and flattering his hosts? Could be.

Or maybe it’s the self-congratulation—the journalists’ shameless and apparently indestructible need to give awards to one another, in a kind of daisy chain without end? That’s a possibility, too.

Or wait: Maybe it’s the pathetic self-abnegation, which bumps right up against the self-congratulation—the sight of gainfully employed and supposedly independent-minded adults falling all over themselves to grab a cellphone camera shot of .  .  . oh, take your pick: Bob Barker, Paula Abdul, Bruce Jenner, Rahm Emmanuel, failed sitcom stars, superannuated movie actors, benchwarming sports figures, the lower orders of national celebrity. Very likely.

Or is it that the event just emits too darn much CO2?

That last one, we admit, had not occurred to us until last week, when we read an announcement issued by the White House Correspondents’ Association about this year’s dinner, which will be held May 1. We quote from it liberally:


And for the first time in its 96-year history, the association is taking action to reduce the carbon impact of its annual black-tie gala; these actions include using as much as possible renewable energy for the event, paper products, supplies and services that reduce the threat of global warming, deforestation, toxic wastes, hazardous chemicals and species extinction.

“This will be the most eco-friendly dinner ever hosted by the association,” said Edwin Chen, the group’s president and a Bloomberg News White House correspondent.

“And we encourage our members and guests to join in that effort, such as by car-pooling, using hybrid vehicles and, for long-distance travelers to Washington, buying carbon-offsets,” Chen said.


There’s that self-congratulation again. But never mind. Make no mistake, as the president says; let us not be misunderstood. We have ourselves seen with our own eyes, and heard with our own ears, the emission of tons of life-threatening gases at past correspondents’ dinners. And while Chen’s “eco-friendly” -reforms won’t make the gala any less of an embarrassment, we applaud the members’ efforts to make a dent in their carbon production, thereby preventing the extinction of every species except Journo Americanus.

Besides, using paper napkins is a small price to pay for the thrill of seeing Helen Thomas pull up to the Washington Hilton on a bicycle.



If You Only Knew the Power of the Stimulus

Why is Time columnist Joe Klein so angry? Because most Americans believe the stimulus failed: “It is very difficult to have a democracy without citizens,” he complains. “It is impossible to be a citizen if you don’t make an effort to understand the most basic activities of your government. It is very difficult to thrive in an increasingly competitive world if you’re a nation of dodos.”

This probably isn’t the response liberal Democrats should have to public disapproval of the Obama agenda. As Matthew Continetti noted at, “To date, the Obama White House has been careful not to blame the American people for the Democrats’ failures. Obama campaigned on a promise to redeem America from Bush, to make the government live up to its citizenry. But his agenda has polarized the electorate and soured the public on the president and his party.”

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