The whole point of free speech is not to make ideas exempt from criticism but to expose them to it.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

State Dinners, Party Crashers, and Journalism Ethics

So this very very rich couple, Tareq and Michele Salahi, crashed a White House state dinner and now want six figures to tell us all why and how they were able to hoodwink the Secret Service and crash an Obama party and get pictures of it to boot. They may get to go to jail.

This should be very disturbing to every American. I don't care what anyone thinks of President Obama. He is our president, and his security is essential to ours. There's nothing funny about any of this, although I'm sure Saturday Night Live will have something soon that will make me laugh.

What should be among the most distrubing revelations resulting from the Salahis' escapade is the photo shown on this post. The picture is of Michele Salahi with an invited guest, Katie Couric, anchor of the CBS Evening News.

I'm not terribly concerned that Couric, who is supposed to be a savvy objective journalist, and who is the face of what was once one of the world's most respected news organizations, was stupid enough to be photographed with someone who had minutes earlier foiled the United States Secret Service and got close enough to our Commander In Chief to shake his hand with both of hers.

My concern is with why Couric was there in the first place.

Journalists, if they are expected to be viewed as objective, do not accept invitations from the President of the United States, to hobnob with political bigwigs. That is what one does at state dinners. And Couric's decision to attend undermines any credibility she may ever have had as a serious journalist.

Of course, we know that Couric is not neutral. It is clear, from her gushing coverage of the election and commentary since, that the president makes her wet.

I've said it before. She's little more than a talking head with a political agenda. She is not a journalist by any respectable definition. That she attempts to present herself as one, is nothing short of a disgrace.


caheidelberger said...

I would be curious to see if ouric does any follow-up investigative reporting on the story herself.

But I disagree with the contention that a good journalist would turn down any invitation from the President. If I got an invite to the White House, I'd go, period, no matter which party was in charge or who was going to be there. If I'm a serious journalist, I want to make connections with the bigwigs. Who knows whom I might meet who could help me get a really good story later. Journalists can shake hands without kissing backsides.

Wayne Gilbert said...

The guest list for a May 2007 State Dinner honoring Queen Elizabeth included: David Gregory of NBC; Elizabeth Hasselbeck, host of “The View;” Steven Holland of Reuters; Robin Roberts of ABC; and, Richard Wolffe of Newsweek.

Bill Fleming said...

Good post Mr. Gilbert. Do your sources detail whether or not GWB made any of those people wet?

Wayne Gilbert said...

There was a Japanese State Dinner where George H.W. Bush may have splattered a few people.

Taunia said...

$900K in debt and $300K in assets do not a rich man (couple) make.

The assertations that this was a reality TV event in the making seem to hold a little more credibility. Kind of like balloon boy.

As far as Katie, why not?

Wouldn't it be distasteful to turn down the President? (And not in the Monica Lewinsky kind of way.)

Bill Fleming said...

"Wouldn't it be distasteful to turn down the President? (And not in the Monica Lewinsky kind of way.)"

Right, Taunia.

You mean the OTHER Boehner kind of way.

Michael Sanborn said...


There's a big difference between making connections with big wigs and accepting invitations that are clearly made to curry favor, which is working.

Couric has been interviewed on the matter, but I'm not aware that she was there to cover the dinner, she was there as a guest of her friends, the Obamas.

Wayne, were the journalists you cite invited to cover the state dinner? Did they get to sit with the other guests, or were they there to cover QE's honor? I confess, I don't know. But, if they were there to eat a free meal at taxpayer expense courtesy of "W," then it was wrong for them to accept such an invitation.

You can't be buddies with the people you are expected to cover objectively. It's dishonest to the reader or viewer.

Bill, I'll bet not.

Wayne, (12:48) please don't make me regurgitate the paragraph above.

Taunia, no it would not be distasteful to turn down an invitation from the president. It would be honorable.

And, it was apparently distasteful for Ms Lewinsky to accept a president's invitation...she spit it on her dress.

Bill Fleming said...

Ok, enough about Boehners and blue dresses. These people swear they were invited to the party. So there's more to the story, just as there is more to the Hasan/Ft. Hood story, and of course the Tiger Woods's wild night in the front yard story.

Bill Fleming said...

Whoops, hit publish too soon. It will be interesting to see if, in the final analysis, the Salahi's are accused of committing any crime. From what I gather so far, it seems they did not. At least not like people like, oh say, Roger Hunt arguably did during the No on 6 campaign. Now there's a case where we'll probably never know "the rest of the story."

Anonymous said...

You know, when I watch Couric, I get the distinct feeling that she doesn't like the president.

In any case, if she's "just a talking head," what do her personal politics matter?

Seems like if there's an agenda to worry about, it would be coming from her bosses, who tell the head what to say. Am I right? Yep.

Anonymous said...

The Secret Service will huff and puff but there won't be any charges or trial. The Secret Service won't want to have to disclose their procedures and methods that a trial may require and they don't want to further their public embarrassment.

Anonymous said...

The Secret Service will huff and they will puff but there won't be a trial or charges. They don't want to have to reveal their sources, methods and procedures that may be required from a trial and they don't want to prolong the embarrassment.