I will be mailing this letter to the White House Correspondents Association later today.
April 30, 2018
Margaret Talev, President
White House Correspondents Association (WHCA)
600 New Hampshire Avenue, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20037
Dear Ms. Talev
Hate has no place in the United States, especially among privileged journalists who cover the White House.
So why was hate on such full display for the world to see at the White House Correspondents Association’s 2018 Annual Dinner? Who was responsible for selecting Michelle Wolf to speak at this dinner? Who vetted her remarks? Is the WHCA now sanctioning vile personal attacks and hate speech? Has it turned itself into charter members of the Donald Trump Haters Club?
I earned a master’s degree in journalism 40 years ago this spring. I’ve lauded some of the outstanding investigative reporting and editing which reporters have done since then. I’ve been moved to tears at stories which have exposed injustices and wrong doing. There is much to cheer about whenever we discuss the practice of journalism in this country.
But your organization demeaned the profession and all who labor in it with how you treated a key representative of the President of the United States on Saturday, April 28.
Additionally, a tenet of the Society of Professional Journalists’ code of ethics is to minimize harm. The code reads: “Balance the public’s need for information against potential harm or discomfort. Pursuit of the news is not a license for arrogance or undue intrusiveness.” Did Ms. Wolf’s routine on Saturday night help accomplish this?
You owe an apology to Mrs. Sanders and to the President of the United States. If you don’t see it, you are really out of touch with how the American public sees journalism. You should make amends immediately.
I’m accustomed to divisiveness. I worked in Washington DC briefly in the ‘80s (I was press secretary to a U.S. Senator), but the tone and tenor of what your association did on Saturday causes me and a lot of others great distress. Build bridges, not walls. If you want to defeat hate, never go about it by practicing hate.
John Kerezy, Ed.S., MA, APR
Program Coordinator and Associate Professor, Journalism and Mass Communications
cc: Sarah Sanders, White House Press Secretary
Jennifer Greer, President, AEJMC
Opinions are personal, not those of Cuyahoga Community College