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Roger Simon: Rebuilding a reputation at the White House Correspondents Association dinner

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y)  |  Seth Wenig/AP file photo

Former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y) | Seth Wenig/AP file photo

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Updated: May 25, 2013 6:28AM



Snarky articles on the White House Correspondents Association dinner have become obligatory.

Attacking the dinner, scheduled for Saturday, has become like attacking the Academy Awards (neither Alfred Hitchcock nor Orson Welles ever won for best director!) or the Miss America Pageant (Oklahoma has won six times, but 19 states have never won at all! What is up with that?).

The dinner is mocked as the “Nerd Prom,” at which a bunch of journalists sausage themselves into their dusty tuxedoes and off-the-rack gowns and pretend they are famous by rubbing elbows with government bigwigs and Hollywood stars who really are famous.

The dinner is also criticized as yet another example of how the press has violated its sacred role of despising the people it covers.

The New York Times used to purchase tables at the dinner, but now does not. “We are not being holier than thou [by not attending], or criticizing anyone who chooses to go,” then-New York Times’ Dean Baquet told the New York Observer in an email in 2011.

“But we came to the conclusion that it had evolved into a very odd, celebrity-driven event that made it look like the press and government all shuck their adversarial roles for one night of the year, sing together [literally, by the way] and have a grand old time cracking jokes. It just feels like it sends the wrong signal to our readers and viewers, like we are all in it together and it is all a game. It feels uncomfortable.”

Really? To me it feels like a party, a night out at which a couple of thousand people drink heavily before, during and after dinner, and try to look sober whenever the C-SPAN cameras pan by them.

But the dinner has taken on a certain weird importance to some.

Take Anthony Weiner. Please.

Disgraced former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, who resigned from office after he was caught being a serial sexter, is now considering a return to public office because he has been through enough.

According to a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine, in which he and his wife were interviewed: “ ‘We have been in a defensive crouch for so long,’ Weiner said. Their lives have become too small, too circumscribed, too claustrophobic for a couple accustomed to public life. They haven’t been to a major event together — no White House Correspondents dinner, no red-carpet events — in nearly two years.”

Hath not this man suffered enough? Hath not he scourged himself, mortified his flesh, denied himself the most basic and fundamental pleasure that any denizen of Washington could seek: attendance at the White House Correspondents Association dinner?

Watching it on C-SPAN is not the same because if you are watching it on C-SPAN it means you are not on C-SPAN — all because he had sent some sexually explicit photos of himself to about six women over three years, as if there were something wrong with that.

Weiner now sees a future for himself that could include emerging from the shadows to become mayor of New York.

But there is only one way he will truly know that he is ready to take his place in decent society once again.

He will go to the White House Correspondents dinner. He will get blotto. And he will remain fully clothed.

For as long as the C-SPAN cameras are there.



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