The Hill, the news source of record for policy influencers inside and outside Washington, released the following statement to Steven Thomma, Executive Director, White House Correspondents’ Association:
Dear Mr. Thomma,
I am Chairman of The Hill.
The Hill, which has participated in the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) dinner for many years, does not plan at this time to participate in the event moving forward.
In short, there’s simply no reason for us to participate in something that casts our profession in a poor light. Major changes are needed to the annual event.
“We work to ensure a strong, free press and robust coverage of the presidency,” reads your website.
“We share the belief, held by our country’s Founders and enshrined in the First Amendment, that an independent news media is vital to the health of the republic,” it continues.
We all agree. But that also means that the dinner must be non-partisan and done without hostility and personal animus toward the party that occupies the White House — regardless of who is in power.
We recall fondly how past dinners were tremendous spectacles of dignity that were enjoyed by all.
Comedians headlining those dinners were sharp and made fun of both the media and the Commander-in-Chief in a way that could induce laughs while not being so offensive and vulgar that C-SPAN actually cut off its radio broadcast, as was the case this year for the first time ever.
The kind of jokes told by this year’s headliner, Michelle Wolf, were out of line for an event that’s supposed to be fun — and fair.
Based on what Americans witnessed on national television at Saturday night’s dinner, a once-fine evening celebrating the strong, free press the WHCA speaks of has turned into an angry display and ad-hominem attacks.
A solid majority of journalists from the left and right have condemned this year’s comedian and rightly so.
The association made apologies, albeit not to the press secretary, only after the pressure compelled it to happen.
We hope the dinner can get back to talking about the importance of the Fourth Estate without the kind of ugly sideshow that completely overshadowed the event this year.
Along those lines, we will happily donate in the future to the WHCA scholarship program and hope this program can produce future journalists to fight for freedom of the press while remaining non-partisan.
In the meantime, without major reforms, The Hill no longer wishes to participate in future dinners.
ABOUT THE HILL
The Hill is one of the fastest-growing news sites in the United States. The Hill was designated by MIT MEDIA LAB as one of the three most influential media organizations in the 2016 election cycle only exceeded by CNN and FOX News. The Hill is published by Capitol Hill Publishing Corp, a subsidiary of News Communications, Inc.