By Tami Warren
Author, Ron Chernow, keynote speaker at the 2019 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, spoke to journalists and scholarship donors, about the fundamental and time honored professional interaction between Presidents and journalists. The current President, Donald Trump, chose to continue his hostile interaction with journalists, and abandoned the Correspondents’ Dinner, discouraging the attendance of his Press Secretary, and many in his administration. The decision tracks with Trump’s contempt for truth, humility, and the significance of being honest with the American people.
Hearing an American President regularly refer to the press corps as, “the enemy of the people,” is alarming. Reading corrosive commentary from the Trump administration, vilify journalists, is a new toxic standard, that has become effectively normalized, in this fantasy of “alternative facts” and “truth isn’t truth,” wormhole we have been swallowed into by Putin and his Trump comrades, via the far reaching attacks on U.S. elections. Americans are lied to by the current administration on a level not seen, since perhaps masters telling slaves, the slaves’ oppression was God’s command. Members of Trump’s cabinet are like a dystopian cast from Murder on the Orient Express, each playing a pivotal role in killing democracy, their respective weapon aimed at vital organs, with freedom of the press, being a prime organ, the lungs, taking in facts and breathing out life supporting truth that democracy cannot survive without.
Watching the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, sans the President and the Press Secretary, was refreshing, pretense was removed with their absence. The cumbersome attempts of acknowledgement for a Press Secretary sorely lacking credibility, and the fact-free, ostentatious statements from Trump, were not missed. It was salubrious to hear from journalists, without the subconscious anchor that is Trump’s omnipresent id, seep into a graceful space where truth is honored.
Donald Trump’s actions to kill democracy, have led him to the calamitous consequence of having an albatross around his neck. Atonement not assuagement will release the albatross. As Samuel Taylor Coleridge wrote of water being everywhere, yet none to drink, similarly Americans see freedom everyday, yet none to fully experience. We cannot free someone else until we free ourselves.