The president brought forth his birth certificate not because he was more “adult” than Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Memo: Will Mueller play hardball with Trump? Mexican presidential candidate vows to fire back at Trump's 'offensive' tweets Elizabeth Warren urges grads to fight for 'what is decent' in current political climate MORE but because the press took Trump’s cue and for two days straight followed up. Where is the long form? Why don’t you deliver? Why didn’t you deliver two years ago when you were required? It was an uh-oh moment. They, the administrators, sensed a sea change in the press. No longer would Nobel Prizes be given out after eight days in office. No longer would the most fawning and accommodating journalists get the Pulitzers. There is even the complaint by a Washington Post columnist that the “journalist prom” on Saturday night — hosted by Hollywood celebs and lobbyists and influence-seekers — got out of control.
The situation brings to mind one in Philadelphia some 40 years ago when the press went just agog over Frank Rizzo. He knew how to entertain; he knew how to pull in the press — and the press loved him. He took the best among the press corps and brought them into his office — much as Obama today brought in Time editor Jay Carney. He threw lavish parties. He gave lunches. It was pretty much the end of what used to be called journalism in Philadelphia, and the city, under Rizzo’s thumb, went down the tubes.
Then one day, if I recall correctly, one journalist — if I am not mistaken it was Andrea Mitchell — said she didn’t want the free lunch. She wouldn’t take the free lunch. Then the dam broke.
Reporters started looking around again to see what was up. It began a golden age of reporting. Then everyone refused the free lunches. In the next 10 years the Philadelphia Inquirer won eight well-deserved Pulitzer Prizes and brought forth some of the best journalism since Lincoln Stephens and Ida Tarbell in the Progressive Era. Hopefully we have such times ahead. But they’ve got to give up the free lunch.