Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday, Tom Brokaw had harsh words for what has affectionately become known as “Nerd Prom “If there’s ever an event that separates the press from the people that they’re supposed to serve, symbolically, it is that one,” he said of the White House Correspondents Dinner.
This is not new. Just a week ago, The Reliable Source conceded the event is “elitist and shallow, smug and insidery, a three-day orgy of corporate preening and celebrity suck-up so far removed from its earnest D.C. journalism roots as to be completely meaningless.” But Brokaw is an insider’s insider, so his comments are especially biting.
While media cavorting with politicians presents some obvious problems, there is at least a potential upside to the hobnobbing. In recent years, however, the focus has shifted to landing celebrity guests. This has been a trend for years, but Brokaw’s comments seem to signal we have reached a tipping point. (It’s hard to defend the merits of Kim Kardashian’s attendance.)
Brokaw is obviously right about the symbolism, even if his concern has more to do with preservation of the mainstream media than a belief in modesty. The event has become unseemly — at a time when the public’s trust of media institutions is already waning.
Perhaps it would be wise to heed his advice? If it was unwise to appear carefree and profligate while masses starved outside the gates of Versailles, it may be equally unwise for the mainstream media elite to parade their charmed lives in front of a disconnected public that is watching scornfully.
After all, a new media revolution is afoot.