The annual White House Christmas party for reporters is always worthy of a few jokes.
During the course of the year a popular joke among the press corps is “Man you pissed them off. You won’t get an invitation to the Christmas party.”
Apparently April Ryan, the African American reporter from American Urban Radio Networks, did just that. She angered the Trump administration so much she didn’t get invited to this year’s Christmas party.
“I’m okay,” she said later. “Everybody’s more upset than I am.”
According to Michael Grynbaum in the New York Times, the White House said the lack of invitation was an inadvertent mixup.
Sure it was.
I didn’t get one either and I didn’t bother to ask why. I don’t give a shit.
The President of the United States has called me an “enemy of the people” for the last year. His surrogates routinely lie to me and do a poor job of it at that.
When some of colleagues at the White House asked me if I was going, I merely laughed. “You think they’d invite me?”
While I’ve covered the president since day one of his administration, I’ve never been happier not to be invited some place. Not being invited is the highest form of respect that could be shown me.
I feel like I just got tossed on Richard Nixon’s enemies list.
While normally it is beneficial to meet with those you cover in a social setting in order to bridge gaps and build trust, the same cannot be said of this administration.
Not a day goes by that President Donald Trump doesn’t disparage the New York Times, CNN or someone else.
Libya picked up Trump’s cry of “Fake News” and dismissed a CNN International story about modern day slavery within its borders.
CNN balked at the president’s invitation to attend the Christmas party, protesting Trump’s continuing war with the media in general and CNN specifically. After all who wants to break bread with someone who could get a colleague killed?
I am not judging those who attended. I have no beef with them. There are plenty of reasons to attend a White House Christmas party – particularly if you’ve never been to one. The History and allure of the White House certainly is a draw.
But for me? I cannot pretend everything is as it should be. I cannot pretend anything is normal. Our president has had only one open-press solo news conference since he took office a year ago. Reagan was criticized for his lack of news conferences and he had probably a half a dozen his first year in office.
The fact is Donald Trump doesn’t like the media. He is at war with us – by his own desire and mostly on his terms. He doesn’t respect anyone – even and probably especially those who show him some sort of fealty or boot-licking respect.
I’m not really picking a fight with Trump or his surrogates and staff either. They are what they are.
But the country is in a dangerous place and I have to cover an administration that has never shown me any respect.
I’m not going to close my eyes, smile and hold my nose while I stand in a social gathering with the President of the United States as long as he calls me his enemy and more importantly as long as he contributes to the disintegration of the First Amendment – one of the cornerstones of our Republic.
It isn’t a game. It isn’t business as usual.
We have a president who tweets fake videos of muslim violence and a press secretary that says doing so elevates the level of discussion on a serious issue.
We have a president publicly supporting a Senate candidate in Alabama who was banned from a shopping mall because he used to troll the mall for teenage girls.
We have a president whose national security adviser pleaded guilty to a felony and is now cooperating with the Robert Mueller Investigation.
In short we have the worst stain of a man in office since Richard Nixon. This goes beyond the GOP and Democrats. It goes to basic human decency.
I will not break bread with a president who does such things. I will ask him questions. I will show up in his press room and ask the administration questions. I will follow the stories I can follow in a professional and timely manner.
But I will not be tempted by the trappings of the White House or the allure of rubbing elbows with those in power to sit down to a party with this band of marauders.
My hope is others will see it the way CNN sees it – the way I see it.
It is that serious.