Before the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, some of Washington’s most prominent media figures defended the weekend’s lavish festivities as a testament to how much the rest of the country is interested in them.
Even though veteran newsman Tom Brokaw recently compared Washington to Versailles, those like
MSNBC host Alex Wagner, completely oblivious to how those outside the beltway disdain the permanent political class, said she felt the lavish festivities are a testament to “how interesting” Washington politics is
“As a former White House Correspondent, it’s really nice for people in politics and media to come together and have a little weekend of fun,” Wagner told Politico at a swanky event at the Hay Adams hotel. “I understand the idea of the ‘celebrification’ of the event but I think it’s more of a testament to how interesting and compelling Washington politics is to the outside world.”
Wagner, who briefly became a White House correspondent after being an entertainment writer and cultural correspondent for the liberal Think Progress, may represent all that is wrong with the new generation of media personalities, which Tom Brokaw referenced.
New Yorker editor David Remnick, whose magazine has thrown parties that have been more lavish in recent years, said these rooftop soirees do not corrupt those in the mainstream media.
“Look at what we publish,” Remnick, who wrote a gushing book about Obama’s election, said. “Does it seem like it corrupts us?”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, while acknowledging the dinner raises money for scholarships, said she liked the dinner because it was also “one of the very fun…there are lots of dinners in Washington, there’s lots of events but this is always a best of it, fun weekend because people don’t take themselves very seriously. That’s always a good time.”
Republicans did not see any problems with the parties either.
A former spokesman for Mitt Romney said that while Brokaw was “entitled to his opinion,” the dinner is a “a fun event for everybody, it’s for people from outside Washington [to] come see how things work in the capital and how people in this town operate.”
Neither did their international figures both sides like to cavort with.
“I think it’s a wonderful celebration of democracy and free speech and it’s pure fun and it’s part of what makes America great,” Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said, perhaps mistaking what is tolerated in Washington, D.C. with what the rest of the country considers to be acceptable.