Monday, 30 April 2012

Kim Kardashian meets the President

On Saturday night President Obama hosted the White House Correspondents' Dinner. Kim Kardashian as there; so was George Clooney, Lindsay Lohan, Reese Witherspoon, Charlize Theron, Dakota Fanning, Ivanka Trump, Kate Hudson, Claire Danes, Kevin Spacey and assorted celebrities.

Which brings me to a question; where were the journalists? Actually, I know the answer; they were at home, watching the event on TV. Like every working stiff in America, journalists are having a hard time. Whether they work in TV or in print, salaries are falling, and job security is non existent. Newspaper circulation figures are diving towards zero, and TV viewing habits are migrating to the internet.

In years past, the Correspondents dinner was an insider affair, where hacks met politicians on neutral ground. Today, no working journo could possibly afford the ticket price to this event. Their place has been taken by celebrities looking for another photo opportunity on a red carpet to promote a designer dress.

What is the impact of such an event, with its "A list" of Celebs, on Presidential approval ratings? Superficially, the mix of politics and celebrity looks powerful. However, it reminds me of that "Cool Britannia" theme that Blair worked over during his early years as PM. It looked good at the time, but as his premiership wound down, Cool Britannia was an embarrassment.

It could play out the same way for Obama. These celeb-heavy events make him look detached, flippant and elitist. Out in the heartland, it will play out badly. In electoral terms, hanging out with Kim Kardashian doesn't win votes.

1 comment:

droog said...

It was hardly ever an affair for working journalists. The event is from and for White House Correspondents, put together by their association. It's an inner circle within the journalism bodies. These guys are technically journalists but the White House pool of correspondents is criticised for acting too much courtiers in the Presidential Palace. The majority of the press folk invited are based in Washington; it is harder for out-of-town journalists to get a seat. This clique culture is exacerbated by the WH press pool: an agreement between press bodies to share some information since it is logistically unfeasible to have one journalist from each news outlet tagging behind the president at every turn.

A common line of criticism is that the DC press corps believe more than anyone else that DC is their own little Camelot; they like that allegory more than the politicians do. No surprise to see them use their most popular event as leverage for old guys like Wolf Blitzer to sit next to the likes of Mila Kunis.

Ultimately the WHCA run the show, and they have decided to make it more glitzy than before. It has bloggers on both sides incensed, for a good reason. The DC press keeps finding ways of getting more frivolous.