As a former
print and broadcast journalist and now a professional stand-up comedian
with a Libertarian bent, I watched the annual Radio and Television
Correspondents Association Dinner with keen interest until that
curiosity turned to horror at how such an event unabashedly puts
the government-media complex on display. Watching the Washington
press corps cozy up to our elected "leaders" is enough
to make you vomit.
If you thought
the government-media complex was a secret just watch this dinner
and you will immediately realize the conspiracy is out in the open.
The façade of emotional and intellectual distance between
journalists and politicians crumbles within the opening moments.
While it is
fun watching politicians struggling to perform like stand-up comedians
and comedians struggling to get the Washington press corps to lighten
up about itself, and spectators taking nervous sips of booze, it
is disheartening to see the fourth estate so chummy with bureaucrats.
Our media, the so-called "watchdog" of the people is a
lapdog. Hard-hitting reporters bent on seeking truth, holding government
accountable, and ferreting out political secrets designed to harm
the American public, sit back, down a few drinks, and plaster on
Cheney delivering a joke about the media's sanctimonious attitude
is like watching the Penguin from the vintage TV show Batman
threaten to do in the caped crusaders. I kept expecting "Bam"
or "Pow" or "Zowie" to appear above the Vice
President's noggin. I would have preferred to see Cheney read the
Constitution publicly just once so he could see what he and his
cronies have stepped all over.
nervousness, and phoniness of reporters and politicians alike were
energy sources we could have tapped enough last night to wean ourselves
off Middle Eastern oil by 2010. If you look at journalists and politicians
in the same room you quickly realize they are flip sides of the
same coin. They function as subordinates of the state.
journalistic community is in shambles as a result of decades of
media consolidation, weaker academic standards, ignorance of American
history, and the mash up of news and entertainment into pure, unadulterated
And the used
car salesmen, nattering nabobs of negativity, and aesthetically-challenged
actors who pass for TV news anchors, pundits, and politicians feed
off each other like parasites ultimately sucking the life out of
the country along with any semblance of informed opinion, open and
honest dialogue about the future course of America, and true condition
of our representative republic now perched precariously atop its
formerly strong Constitutional foundation.
As a stand-up
comedian I laughed at the jokes delivered at this dinner but I cringed
at the celebration of the government-media complex. As former New
York Times Chief of Staff, John Swinton, said in a speech at the
New York Press Club, in 1953: ” There is no such thing as an independent
press. You know, and I know, there is not one of you who dares write
your honest opinions. We are paid not to print our opinions or we
would be put out on the streets looking for another job. The business
of a journalist is to destroy the truth; to lie outright, to prevent,
to vilify; to fawn at the feet of mammon, and to sell the country
for our daily bread. We are the tools and vassals of the rich men
behind the scene. We are jumping jacks, they pull the strings and
we dance. Our talents, our possibilities and our lives, are all
the property of other men. We are intellectual prostitutes.”