Matt Schlapp: WHCA dinner will turn Americans tired of the hate to Trump’s side

Greg Nash

The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner has come and gone and for that we are all very thankful. But the political overhang of the dinner is adding momentum to President Trump’s favorite theme, that the D.C. swamp can only be reformed if additional conservative voices are elected in November. A dinner is just an evening, but this dinner could actually help cement even more independent-minded Americans to the Trump cause.

To remind you, a so-called comic and her profanity-laced, vulgar monologue was the main “entertainment” at the dinner.

{mosads}Jokes about abortion were just the appetizer for jokes about apparent physical harm to Kellyanne Conway and of course the public bullying of Sarah Huckabee Sanders. All of this was simply not funny, and for my wife Mercedes and me it warranted an early exit and an immediate GPS search for the closest bar.

Our decision to vote against the entertainment with our feet, earned us a Sunday full of threats, postings of the location of our home and other nastiness. Bearing the brunt of the left’s anger isn’t fun, but it pales in comparison to the plight of so many Americans whose lives suffered with the implementation of progressive policies that doubled their health care premiums, stagnated their wages, and endangered their energy and manufacturing jobs.

What I realized during the dinner and its aftermath is that many Americans can no longer take a timeout from politics because for too many everything is all about politics. When the cutthroat nature of raw politics is on the menu, don’t be surprised if Americans feel sick.

Humor is a wonderful gift and during these political times, when friendships seem to end over a presidential vote, it is in desperate need. But humor turned to ridicule and moral condemnation, especially when the preacher of hate has the microphone and the world is the stage, is ugly. Make no mistake, this dinner did not unify Americans across the political divide by reminding us we have more in common than not. Instead, this dinner attempted to make an unmistakable and very sober point, that Trump is a lying, malignant mouthpiece of hate, and it is the D.C. press corps that is literally fighting him to save the country. Don’t laugh at that sentence; please understand many in the national media desperately cling to that delusion.

Many in the media continue to wrap themselves in the First Amendment, using their allegiance to this cherished amendment as proof that the selection of the comedian was somehow in the spirit of our nation’s Founders and mission of the dinner. Strangely, they continue to fail to understand that the First Amendment was not just included in the Bill of Rights to protect a free press — a necessity in a free country — but also listed earlier in that amendment is the freedom of speech.

The major problem with the White House correspondents’ dinner is not its celebration of a free press, but that the collected expression of the press is mostly left-wing, Trump-hating political views. The First Amendment was not intended to propel reporters into the #Resistance but to give reporters the constitutionally-protected freedom to simply present the facts to the American people.

I know this idea is old school, but whatever happened to simply getting the facts? Bias is so ingrained in the orthodoxy of the mainstream press that they often cannot even see it. Without a free and truly objective press our experiment in representative government will rest only on chance.

I will let the many able members of the WHCA determine how to deconstruct the dinner and ask the tough questions about what should be done so that what happened this year never occurs again.

I also need to be honest about my own mistakes in this area. As chairman of CPAC, I have to take responsibility for the decisions we make regarding speakers each year. We do not always choose wisely. And, when we misfire, we can always rely on a horde of reporters to cover the story. In fact that coverage helps us to think through our due diligence and to ask each other if we are living up to our mission. Many of our critics come also from conservative circles, and criticism from family always cuts twice as deep. So too for the WHCA, which will probably dismiss the reaction from Republican partisans but they cannot escape the withering criticism from eminent members of their own community.

The White House Correspondents dinner is not our problem, it is but a symptom of a larger problem in a polarized country where it seems weapons cannot be dropped even for a few hours to have some laughs and make some new friends. Perhaps each of us should relearn our manners and remember that weapons have holsters. Those are the facts, just the facts.

Matt Schlapp is chairman of the American Conservative Union and CPAC. He was the White House political director to former President George W. Bush. Follow him on Twitter @mschlapp.

Tags Donald Trump Donald Trump Economy of the United States Kellyanne Conway Matt Schlapp Mercedes Schlapp Michelle Wolf Nerd Prom Trump voters WHCA dinner White House Correspondents' Association

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