Good news, everybody: Our political press is now completely back to normal. Donald Trump threw them for a loop, what with his constant breaking of laws big and small, attempted extortion of a foreign government, a violent attempted coup, and transformation of Republicanism into an anti-democratic propaganda force—but never mind that! It is time to get back to what the “political” press in this country does best, ignoring all that highbrow nation-endangering stuff to focus on digging for access and huffing about perceived minor slights.
It’s time to go hunting for tan suits and presidential haircuts, everybody. You know, real political scandals.
At issue today: Naomi Biden is getting married, I guess, which is news to all of us who forgot who Naomi Biden is because we don’t follow such things obsessively and because Naomi Biden hasn’t been commandeered by her father or grandfather to be a half-assed White House “presidential adviser” and so has had damn little to do with presidential politics. The private wedding was/is to be held on White House grounds, probably in no small part to avoid the absolute zoo it would become if the sitting president had to travel elsewhere for it. Sure, whatever, don’t care. Except we must care, by God in heaven, because the normal White House press corps got scooped on a photo shoot for the event, and that makes it everybody’s problem.
The AP’s White House reporter, Seung Min Kim:
Yes, Vogue was given the go-ahead to do the pre-wedding photo shoot, which is not the same as photographing the wedding itself. And yes, the wedding’s still closed to the press, just like the White House said. But somebody who is not the White House press got a photo shoot behind the White House press’ backs, and this makes the Biden Administration big dirty liars just like that last guy. Harumph to you, sir. Harumph to you and all in your employ.
Fox News’ correspondent:
Again, these ain’t pictures of the wedding. Why the hell are the people in the White House press room being so damn testy over not being able to all file in to snap iPhone pictures during somebody else’s photoshoot? Have any of these people even said two words to Naomi Biden before today? Could they pick her out of a lineup?
The New York Times correspondent, responding to the Bloomberg News correspondent:
THIS IS HOW DEMOCRACY DIES, PEOPLE. IT’S BECAUSE YOU DIDN’T INVITE US TO YOUR PRE-WEDDING PHOTOSHOOT. Great, we could have stopped fascism, but now you’ve ruined it.
The Washington Post correspondent goes there, then tries to undo some of the damage:
We’re getting into dangerous territory here. Did you know, kids? If you go on Twitter and say “Trump” three times, Trump-whisperer and New York Times senior political correspondent Maggie Haberman will appear. Oh no, now you’ve done it!
For context, Haberman has been one of the reporters who have frequently covered “bigger” lies, and by “covered,” we mean she’s stated pretty flat-out that a lot of Donald Trump’s lies aren’t exactly lies because, as “anyone who has worked for him will tell you,” Trump was so straight-up delusional during his time in office that he couldn’t tell the difference between reality and his own fantasies to begin with:
Check the date on that one: 2018. It’s pretty amazing that everyone around Trump, including in the press, was pretty open with the news that a then-sitting president of the United States was too incapacitated to discern truth from fiction but absolutely nobody involved, anywhere, appeared to think “batshit delusional, thinks he can will alternate realities into being by speaking them” was reason to keep him away from the levers of power.
In any event, it’s the apocalypse now. I don’t make the rules; I just report them. We’re all going to die because the White House wouldn’t let a basement room packed with the most cynical camera hogs and access-grabbers in the nation muscle in on a pre-wedding photoshoot for somebody they might have wanted to aggressively suck up to or yell at, after someone reminded them that person existed.
The lesson here is not that all politicians lie—although they certainly do, and if some supposed political reporter comes up to me looking to get invited to my granddaughter’s wedding after years of coverage suggesting they aren’t particularly invested in whether or not the opposition party hangs me from a Capitol lamppost, I can absolutely assure you I’m going to lie to that person about that wedding and feel pretty good about doing so.
No, the lesson here is that this is the political coverage the White House press corps was designed to do. Was meant to do. We’re finally back to the petty fashion show stuff the White House press is actually good at. The stuff about violent coup breaks their brains, and they couldn’t process a president attempting to extort a foreign power for purely personal benefit because if the important people standing at lecterns say there’s no big deal there, the hands of the press corps are tied. They’ve done all they can do.
It’s not that the White House press corps can’t report the news. They can! But the news consists near-exclusively of reporting what a famous person tells them, and what some other famous person tells them in response. Forever.
The White House press isn’t angry because Vogue scooped them on a photoshoot. The White House press is angry because Vogue and the White House press are both in the same gossip-spreading access-chasing business, and that makes Vogue scooping them much worse.
The Bidens are our celebrities, not yours! Go back to photographing, uh, Tom Cruise or whoever! We run the celebrity beat here in the nation’s capital!
I think I’m finally coming to understand why it is that “Obama once saluted with a coffee cup in his hands” and “Donald Trump withheld military aid to Ukraine so that he could pressure the at-war Ukrainian government to make false claims about the family of his election opponent” got White House press eyebrows to slant at pretty much the exact same angle. It’s because the news cycle, for the White House press corps, consists solely of what important people do or say on White House grounds. Determining the actual facts, and analyzing the impact of a scandal or non-scandal: They don’t have to do any of that grubby journalistic nonsense. That’s for editors at the home office to take care of.
In the White House itself, though, “lied about weapons of mass destruction,” or “was caught blindsided by an emerging pandemic,” or “misled White House reporters about the timing of a wedding photo shoot for a granddaughter who didn’t want several dozen access-obsessed scoop chasers circling her with television crews” are all roughly the same level of scandal because, literally, each of those things affects the people in the White House press corps exactly the same amount.
Whether you die because an incompetent pandemic response pushed hospitals to the breaking point is bad for you, random American citizen, but it can’t compare to the tragedy of having to explain to an editor that, no, you didn’t get personal access to photograph (checks notes) Naomi Biden in her wedding dress.
What if Naomi Biden had opinions on Hunter Biden’s laptop? How would we even know if the correspondent from Fox News couldn’t scream the question at her as she and her new husband exchanged vows? How would we even know?
Anyway, we’re all going to die. You’ll note that nowhere in this piece did I mention whether Naomi Biden’s wedding has already happened or hasn’t yet happened, because this isn’t England, we’re not a monarchy, and whether Naomi Biden gets married or doesn’t get married impacts me, personally, only if the new couple is planning to honeymoon at my house and nobody told me about it. The White House press corps may be extremely peeved that some other media outlet cut in on their own personal celebrity gossip beat, but unless Naomi Biden has gotten $2 billion in investment funding from the Saudi royal family or is tossing out classified national security secrets with the bouquet, the rest of us don’t have to give a damn.
Donald Trump and his MAGA allies came close to overthrowing our democracy, and they will try again. We must do all we can to get out the Democratic vote in Georgia. Click here to find all the volunteer opportunities available!
We’re now in the third week of election overtime and there is still tons more great news for Democrats to exult over on this week’s episode of The Downballot.
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