CBS's Garrett: Boycotting correspondents' dinner will 'prove Trump right' on bias

CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett wrote in a Sunday op-ed that media members boycotting the White House Correspondents' Association dinner would only "prove Trump right" that the media is biased against him.

The annual dinner, dubbed "Nerd Prom" in recent years, is scheduled for April, but boycotts by Vanity Fair and The New Yorker have prompted speculation the event might be canceled altogether.

Garrett, a veteran reporter who has covered the White House for CNN and Fox News prior to jumping to CBS, pushed back on the notion that the evening is supposed to celebrate a chummy relationship between the press and White House.

"No self-respecting White House reporter has ever been a president’s prom date, and the dinner isn’t a date at all,” Garrett wrote. “It’s a cease-fire with bad wine and crowded tables. And if we, the media, stand Trump up at the proverbial dance because we’re pining for another ‘date,’ we make it that much easier for him to say we’re playing favorites. And in this case, at least, he’d be right."


Garrett's perspective is different than those shared by some prominent journalists who advocate a boycott, including The Atlantic's David Frum and The Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan.

"How can media clink glasses with a White House that makes clear its contempt for press freedom and its admiration for (Russian President Vladimir) Putin methods?" Frum, a senior editor, asked in a tweet.

"The press shouldn’t be Trump’s enemy — a construction that serves his political purposes. Nor should it be his prom date. Cancel the dinner now," wrote Sullivan — a former New York Times public editor — in an opinion piece last week.

“The media should go all the way and boycott the dinner entirely this year," wrote U.S. News & World Report’s Robert Schlesinger.

Garrett shares that CBS News has no plans to boycott the event, which is now in its 102nd year.

"My outlet, CBS News, will participate this year and proudly so," writes Garrett, who has been with CBS since 2010. "If they back out now, organizations that attended last year ought to explain what is different about this year. Is it Trump? Or is it them?

"Skipping needlessly hands an evidentiary cudgel to Trump and his acolytes that reporters cannot and will not cover his presidency objectively."

Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents' Association, released a statement earlier this month confirming the event was going to ahead as planned.

"This year, as we do every year, we will celebrate the First Amendment and the role that an independent press plays in a healthy republic."

A host for the dinner — who is usually a comedian — has not been selected yet.