Good riddance to the White House Christmas party for the media

  • 19 December 2018
  • NormanL

The White House has decide to cancel the annual Christmas party held for members of the press and their families:

The annual Christmas-season gathering was a significant perk for those covering the White House, as well as other Washington reporters, anchors and commentators, and New York media executives would regularly fly in for the occasion. At its peak, the invitation-only soirees grew so large that there were two back-to-back events, one for broadcast outlets and one for print organizations.

Journalists who attended the events, which featured a catered buffet of lamb chops, crab claws and elaborate desserts, got to roam the decorated mansion with a spouse or other family member, a friend or a colleague, adding to the invitation's allure.

But the biggest fringe-benefit was the picture-taking sessions, in which the president and first lady would patiently pose with guests and briefly chat with them in front of a Christmas tree, with the White House sending out the photos — copies of which were invariably sent home to mom. This would take a couple of hours, with long lines snaking across the building's first floor. Bill Clinton even posed for pictures with journalists days after he was impeached.

The White House made no announcement that it was dropping the press party. The president and first lady threw such a gathering last December but did not pose for pictures. Trump made a brief appearance with his wife and offered a few welcoming remarks.

Good -- and long overdue. While we do not share the president's contention the press is an enemy of the people, that does not prevent us from applauding the decision to scrap the Christmas party. The unseemly mix of reporters and politicians at a social event such as this only diminishes the reputations of both. Let's hope it stays cancelled to encourage more transparency from press and pols alike.