As a newly elected president, Donald Trump was quick to take one of Washington’s institutional pillars down a peg. By snubbing the 2017 annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner (WHCD), the president deflated what should have been more appropriately called the Sycophants’ Supper. Would that it was the last such supper. For now, the POTUS’s slap to this gathering of sycophants this past weekend will have to do.
Like nothing else, the annual Correspondents’ Dinner is a mark of a corrupt politics. It’s a sickening specter, where some of the most pretentious, worthless people in the country—in politics, journalism and entertainment—convene to revel in their ability to petition and curry favor with one another, usually to the detriment of the rest of us in Rome’s provinces.
Those gathered at the Annual Correspondents’ Dinner, or its Christmas party, are not the country’s natural aristocracy, but its authentic Idiocracy. No matter how poor their predictive powers, no matter how many times they get it wrong—in war and in peace—the presstitutes always find time for this orgy of self-praise
And they’re all on the same circuit, beavering at sculpting celebrity personas. Anchors at major networks hangout on late-night shows, where presidents and first ladies hobnob, too. Jimmy Fallon’s “Tonight Show” may be a vaudeville of giggles, goofiness, and mind-numbing banter. But providing bread and circuses for Booboisie comes with a “responsibility” the dancing, prancing, androgynous Mr. Fallon takes seriously. To his tomfoolery, Fallon once added a spot of promotion for ObamaCare (March, 2014), to honor Michelle Obama’s visit to the set. Fallon’s lead was a signal to Sister Act. FLOTUS launched into her own agitprop for her husband’s healthcare juggernaut on that show.
Meanwhile, “The Daily Show” on Comedy Central is a professional Shangri-La for the cast of characters at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. This year, the downright mirthless “Daily Show” donated one Hasan Minhaj as its circus clown to amuse the sycophants. I hope he came for free, for Hasan is worthless as a funny man. Not a funny bone in his body.
Hasan’s idea of verbal swordplay: calling The Donald “liar in chief.” The quip has 9,650,000 results on Google, most of them unrelated to hackneyed Hasan. “Liar in chief” goes back to 2011 and before, and has been applied to every president and candidate since 2011.
Hasan’s “originality” came together in lines as, “I would like to say it’s an honor to be here, but that would be an alternative fact.” He also invented a new form of satire: the sermon on The Hill. Interspersed with kvetching—“No one wanted to do this so, of course, it landed in the hands of an immigrant, [t]hat’s how it always goes down”—was a string of clichés on the press’ duty to do a better job. For “our democracy,” you know.
The press is meant to be roasted at the WHCD. Were I a Muslim ostensibly roasting the press, like Hasan, I’d lampoon how present company covers my peaceful religion. But to do that, Hasan would have to be clever, creative, and willing to say what everyone is thinking but is too afraid to say. He’s none of those.
Someone who’s all of those things is Anthony Jeselnik. Here’s a demonstration, for future mediocrities to emcee an event like the annual Correspondents’ Dinner. It’s courtesy of the gifted (and gorgeous) Mr. Jeselnik, whose rape and Holocaust jokes are obviously more irreverent than his digs at Islam. (Smart. The offended cohort won’t KILL YOU.) To the president of the Muslim Public Affairs Council:
- “Muslims are not known for it, but they do have a sense of humor. For example, your greeting, “Peace be unto you,” is that supposed to be sarcastic?”
- “Devout Muslims keep their women covered, don’t allow them to drive, leave the house alone, or go to school. So would you say that a lot of Islamic practices are just common sense?”
- “Why do Muslims seem so angry all the time? Is it because you guys don’t have Christmas?”
The event and the invited say a great deal about the state of satire in the US, killed off by the twin tyrannies of political correctness and affirmative action.
In America, funny has always been, still is, the forte of black men, white men, and a smattering of white women, who’re funny until they contract left-liberalism. (As opposed to my own classical liberalism.)
Roseanne Barr[f], Sarah Silverman, Kathy Griffin, Chelsea Handler: They weren’t all lousy comedians, but they devolved when they took to preaching progressivism. To wit, the performance, in 2015, of Cecily Strong. Example of Cecily’s weak whining:
- [I am] “shocked that someone named (Senator) Tom Cotton is a senator, and not a character from an old racist cartoon.”
- “I’m not going to try and tell you comedians how to do politics. That would be like you guys telling me what to do with my body.”
Black women are way funnier than white, liberal women. But sisters are too angry, scary-angry, to be funny. Heartfelt rage is not funny. For instance, in 2009, Wanda Sykes—talent undeniable—started her WHCD debut with great material. She soon descended into fury and vulgarity. To be smart, satire must be irreverent, brutally offensive and always personally deprecating and detached.
As to Brothers at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner: He’s no Jeselnik, but judging from the sourpuss faces in the crowd, Larry Wilmore acquitted himself well in 2016. My favorite lines:
- “It’s nice to match the names (in this room) to the faces in the Panama Papers.”
- “Obama can’t be killing print journalism tonight, that industry has been dead for a while.”
- “Beyoncé is not anti-cop, at the most, she’s anti-pants.”
More than about the state of a vital art form does the event and the invited speak to the press corps’ ethics and code of conduct. The un-watchful dogs of the media have no business frolicking with the president and his minions. This co-optation is the hallmark of a corrupt, celebrity press. (And, when did Hollywood become a fixture in our New-World tradition? In case the country has forgotten, actors are a troupe that makes a living pretending to be something they’re not. Professional poseurs, if you like. Granted, they’re not parasites, like the politicians with whom they cavort. But Tinseltown is a left-liberal ideological collective. They march in thematic unison. That their cultural products have become artistically worthless could well be because activism has replaced acting, and sermons have supplanted stories and good scripts. Hollywood is a pretty, pea-brained community. Why are their ranks at the WHCD at all? And why do we forget that these are, in the words of Borat, “trash people”?)
Kudos to the likes of former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, who’ve excoriated the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, or who’ve refused to attend, irrespective of the political affiliation of the man ensconced in the White House.
Finally, for days following these glitzy events, the Gilded Ones will share their night of glory with the lowly viewer. We watch them like poor servants, noses pressed against the master’s mansion windows, as they genuflect to themselves. How many times were we “taken behind the scenes” with megalo-Megyn (Kelly), to gaze at the gowns she wore to one of these circle jerks?
This year, there was none of that, thanks to Trump’s snub. Always the main star at the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner, the president was a no-show. The media and their clones in show business might hate him, but, absent Donald Trump, the show was without a star. Consequently, there was little appetite among TV viewers for recaps of journos and starlets primping and preening for days to come.
President Trump spared the country one sickening extravaganza.
Ilana Mercer is the author of The Trump Revolution: The Donald’s Creative Destruction Deconstructed (June, 2016) & Into the Cannibal’s Pot: Lessons for America From Post-Apartheid South Africa (2011). Follow her on Twitter, Facebook & Gab. Subscribe to Ilana’s YouTube channel.