The White House Correspondents Dinner was again a hostile zone for President Trump, underlining it's no mystery why the president skips it. White House Correspondents Association president Olivier Knox of Sirius XM Radio first paid tribute to the group's lawyer, who filed a brief against CNN screamer Jim Acosta being denied his press pass for a few days. "No president should get to pick and choose who covers him!" And then Knox went full Drama Queen:
OLIVIER KNOX: That gets us in an admittedly roundabout way to this president. I don't want to dwell on the president. This is not his dinner, it is ours, and it should stay ours. I do want to say this -- in nearly 23 years as a reporter, I have been physically assaulted by Republicans and Democrats, spat on, shoved, had crap thrown at me. I have been told by senior officials of both major parties that I will never work in Washington again. There was a brief moment in Afghanistan when I thought a soldier not quite old enough to shave would shoot me dead for the crime of taking a picture inside the presidential palace.
And yet, I still separate my career into the period before February of 2017, and what came afterwards. And that's because February 2017 is when the president of the United States called us the enemies of the people. A few days later, I was driving my then 11-year-old son somewhere, probably soccer practice, when he burst into tears and asked me is Donald Trump going to put me in prison?' At the end of a family trip to Mexico, he mused that if the president tried to keep me out of the country, quote 'at least uncle Josh is a good lawyer and he'll get you home."
If you are the son of Olivier Knox, your friends will probably rib you pretty bad at school on Monday. Why do journalists still do this? Talk about Fake News! Even Brian Stelter admitted all these conspiracy theories about dictator moves didn't turn out. So why keep talking about them? Yes, "enemy of the people" is a harsh term. We prefer "the opposition party." You can be sure this room was 99 percent Democrats. (Sean Spicer was there.)
But it's still in fashion to say criticizing journalists could get them killed....and they never wonder if calling Trump Hitler might endanger him.
KNOX: I've had to tell my family not to touch packages on our stoop. My name is on a statement criticizing the president for celebrating a congressman's criminal assault on a reporter. I've had death threats, including one this week. Too many of us have. It shouldn't need to be said in a roomful of people who understand the power of words that 'Fake News' and 'enemies of the people' are not pet names, punchlines, or presidential. [Applause]
And we should reject politically expedient assaults on men and women whose hard work helps make it possible to hold the powerful to account.
Holding the powerful to account? That's funny. A few years ago, they were all fainting at the comedy chops of Barack Obama. Were they making grand speeches about Obama's prosecution of journalists? No.
Knox then talked about journalist Austin Tice, who is being held hostage in Syria. It's always good to recognize that foreign correspondents do dangerous work in war zones. But reporters don't seem to have the same respect for our soldiers in dangerous war zones, or our police in dangerous neighborhoods. Reporters have great reverence for the First Amendment, but only when they're the ones enjoying the freedom of speech. They insist that when conservatives criticize them, that's opposing the First Amendment, not employing it.