Two parties, two different Americas. On Saturday night, the press gathered for the annual White House correspondents' dinner in Washington where, traditionally, they would roast the president. But this year the punchline was in Pennsylvania, at a rally President Trump held to celebrate his first 100 days in office.
"I could not possibly be more thrilled," said Trump, "than to be more than 100 miles away from Washington's swamp, spending my evening with ... much better people."
Thus are the battle lines drawn: the press vs. the president, liberal vs. conservative, Washington vs. the rest of the country.
It sounds compelling, but it's actually absurd. The press is not the white knight of democracy. The president is not the people's champion.
Let's start with the press. Trump is right: The correspondents' dinner is awful. It's an evening of self-congratulation, bad jokes and political bias, where Democrats go to get praised and Republicans to be lampooned. It was at this dinner where President Obama and "SNL's" Seth Myers famously roasted Trump in 2011. A few years later, the joke turned out to be on them.
What is the press? It's conservative, moderate, liberal; as objective as possible but sometimes not; struggling to survive in the age of the Internet.
Hard to define, in other words -- and yet in recent years it has developed a sense of itself, as if it had some unifying political purpose. Choosing Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, the men who exposed the Watergate scandal that toppled Richard Nixon, to address the correspondents' dinner sent a clear message: the press is not only here to hold presidents to account but to bring them down.
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