This year’s annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner took place on 28 April 2018. Given the current political climate, the event put the White House Correspondents’ Association under greater pressure than in previous years to promote respect for journalism and demonstrate a unifying non-partisan commitment to high standards for their profession.
It was an opportunity to help correct misconceptions and counter accusations that those in the media are somehow biased or unnecessarily ruthless when it comes to partisan politics. By all reports, 95% of the evening effectively accomplished that goal. WHCA President, Margaret Talev delivered an amazing speech that seemed resonate with everyone at the event including members of the current administration. She received a lengthy standing ovation.
Unfortunately, someone who was later given 15 minutes to speak, took the opportunity to sabotage the overall purpose of the event by delivering what were considered by many to be inappropriate and mean-spirited personal attacks on some women working with the current administration. The counterproductive nature of the attacks is explained at the bottom of this page.
Also unfortunate is that the most salacious, inflammatory, and offensive excerpts from the 15 minute speech were what was being covered in the news and talked about in social media — which then became the focal point and ‘take away’ regarding the 2018 WHCD. This resulted in the event seeming very polarized and partisan.
For those interested in getting some idea of what actually happened at the 2018 WHCD, the 95% of the event that went unreported, the following videos are provided.
Margaret Talev Speech Excerpts
Here are some excerpts from the speech by Margaret Talev relating to Sarah Sanders, Donald Trump, and Mike Pence.
Margaret Talev Full Speech
The video below is of the WHCD speech delivered by WHCA President Margaret Talev. This is the video from the WHCD that most people will unfortunately never see. C-SPAN videos from public events are normally available on YouTube and also offered by other media outlets. For some reason this video is not on YouTube nor is it being reported on by any major news media outlet. We’re offering it here for non-commercial educational purposes according to ‘Fair Use’ copyright guidelines.
Margaret Talev Letter of Apology
This is the letter of apology issued by WHCA President Margaret Talev.
Margaret Talev Interview on CNN
This video contains brief excerpts from the CNN interview and panel discussion with WHCA President Margaret Talev from 29 Apr 2018. It is provided here for non-commercial educational purposes. The full video can be found here.
Paul Ryan WHCD Message
This video is an excerpt from Paul Ryan’s message to the attendees of the 2018 WHCD.
This Tweet is a good example of the concern expressed by journalists and those working in the media.
What Some People May Have Found Excessive
The goal of the White House Correspondents’ Dinner this year in particular was to foster unity and respect for journalism. Unfortunately, some of the comments made by the comedian may have contributed to a negative narrative about the media being unfair and biased against the administration. The illustration below explains this with two examples and a commentary. The comedian’s speech could have been tweaked slightly, and made much more effective with regard to achieving the stated goals of the WHCA. The full controversial speech was posted to C-SPAN on YouTube. There are numerous opportunities and venues to verbally attack the President, and compare his daughter to a container of dirty diapers. However, this particular event and venue were probably not strategically the best place and time to do that.
Why Does Any of this Matter?
Some people would point out that the campaign trail of the President was littered with vulgar baseless insults of other candidates, and public citizens. This pattern of creating insulting names for people continues. So, given that so many people have been quiet about personal attacks over the past two years, why should people be upset now? Anyone who chooses to work with an administration characterized by a pattern of insulting people should be willing to be insulted. Those who support such an administration can’t really protest when the insults come their way. That’s one way of looking at this.
In 2016, part of the Democratic Party strategy to win the election was to insult and marginalize the opposition. The term ‘deplorables’ was used a bit too freely, and those in the opposition were portrayed as ignorant, bigoted, hateful racists. While such descriptions may have been accurate for a small percentage of people, a wider swath of people were insulted and offended. Long story short, the plan to insult voters didn’t win hearts and minds. The Democrats lost in an election where they really shouldn’t have had any difficulty winning. It’s like a professional football team losing against a high school football team. For anyone interested in winning in 2018 and 2020, it would be important not to try that failed approach of insulting people. Instead taking the high ground would most likely be a more successful way to win hearts and minds. Bernie Sanders ran a positive and non insulting campaign, and was hugely popular. That’s the strategy the Democrats should have embraced then, and now.