Sunday, April 29, 2012

My Top 10 list about the Correspondents' dinner

USA Today was among scores of companies at last night's White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, the annual Washington confab of journalists, politicians (hi, President Obama!), celebrities, and the occasional convicted felon. Some of what I gleaned from the overnight coverage:

No. 10
The New York Times boycotts the event in terms of participating as guests, calling it inappropriate fraternizing with the very politicians journalists should watchdog. But NYT correspondent Peter Baker covered it as news, delivering this zinger at the conclusion of his story: "Just last year, the dinner played a cameo role in the raid that led to the death of Osama bin Laden. When he showed up at the dinner, Mr. Obama had just given the order for the helicopter incursion into Pakistan to burst into a compound where the Al Qaeda leader was suspected of living. But he smiled and joked his way through the dinner, and a ballroom full of journalists had no clue what was about to happen."

No. 9
USA Today's guests included talk show host Kelly Ripa; actor Mark Consuelos; Big Bang Theory actor Johnny Galecki; Pan Am actress Kelli Garner -- and, of course, Martha Stewart, the media moguless and former resident of Alderson, W. Va.

No. 8
There were no swag gift bags at the Google-Hollywood Reporter party at the W hotel :(

No. 7
The Politico published 27 (!) separate stories about the event.

No. 6
In USA Today's video coverage, Stewart talks about her dress (by couturier Marchesa: "It's beaded. Not too heavy. Short!") and shoes (Manolo Blahnik: "They're old, actually").

No. 5
Photo of Stewart in said dress at USAT's table.

No. 4
Cost of a Marchesa couture gown (not Stewart's!) at Bergdorf Goodman: $6,950.

No. 3
Number of tweets and re-tweets of event by USAT's Style: 20.

No. 2
Number tweets and re-tweets by Chief Marketing Officer Maryam Banikarim: 37 (!).

No. 1
This Banikarim tweet of an unattributed joke (by headliner Jimmy Kimmel): "I'd like 2 tk my 10th grade history teacher Mr Mills who told me I'd never amount 2 anything... Hi I'm about to high 5 the Prez."

Related: Here's C-SPAN's recorded video of Obama's remarks.


  1. The Amazing Mr. Mills was correct, Meriyam, if you think "amounting to something" is to high five someone... no matter who they are.

    How completely shallow.

    1. Oh come on. It was a great line and a great moment. Do you have to crap on everything?

    2. She should not be there unless she pitched a deal with Martha. this woman is an unbridled egotist. Shut up and do your job.

  2. How original, Banikarim steals Kimmel's closing joke without attribution and she’s Gannett’s Chief Marketing Officer, so much for her own creativity and honesty.

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  4. Say what you want about Banikarim, but:

    * She beat USAT's correspondents in terms of tweet volume

    * Her fingers fly on her Blackberry keyboard!

  5. Quantity < quality, IMHO.
    Probably has something to do with why I didn't fit in at Gannett.

  6. Further cementing my reputation as the WHCA curmudgeon, I'll offer this No. 11 to my list:

    The association notes on its website that this dinner raises money for scholarships to college journalism students, giving the event a patina of do-goodness. In 2010, for example, the group said in a news release: "The success of this dinner allows members of the White House press corps to give back to the next generation of reporters."

    But as with many charity events, participants' spending often rivals the amount of money raised for the good cause this dinner ostensibly supports.

    The association pulled in $608,000 from its dinner in 2009, according to the most recent annual IRS tax return for the group that I can find online. That figure doesn't include the untold hundreds of thousands spent by attendees and their sponsoring organizations on pre-parties, after-parties, expensive gowns, transportation, hotel costs, and other associated expenses.

    And the association has overhead of its own: That year, 2009, it paid its executive director nearly $92,000.

    How much will the association give in scholarships this year? $132,200 to 16 college students. Prior to this year, the group had given a total $465,000 in scholarships, all since 1991.

  7. Better than what gannett hands out in scolarship money to employees' kids. by far!

  8. Jim, you are absolutely correct. The "scholarships" are a smokescreen for the swells seeking photo ops and a-- kissing.

    It's so obvious - if you caught any of it on Cspan, did you notice how the entire rude audience just keeps talking and working tables through the actual program? They only shut up when the comedian and then the president speak.

    Like other self-important remnants from a bygone era, it should just fold up and blow away already, like the Gridiron, editors' and publishers' groups. The do nothing of consequence except blow smoke into one another's ears and no one will miss them.

  9. Just shows the boorish, sel-absorbed mindset of our CMO. One tweet about your big success in life attending a black tie dinner says all.

    Why are all our leaders so fucking immature? Hunke, Dubow, Rudd Davis, Heather Frank. You get the idea. I havent seen such a crack crew since the school store clerks in junior high school..

    Martore may be a great beancounter, but her one dimensional management style and inability to judge talent means this company will only succeed by gutting personnel and quality to the bone. Serving the greater good? Hometown advantage? Complete bullshit.

    Get your gas masks on, the stench at Tuesday's shareholder's meeting will be overwhelming.

    1. So sadly true...

  10. And how many scholarships does Gannett Foundation hand out to the sons and daughters of the company?

  11. Screw Martha. I want more Kelly. Let it Ripa!

  12. Gannett is putting more emphasis on Martha than Kelly because Kelly is more successful than Martha. It is very parallel to how they view their employees. The successful ones have to go while they keep the mediocre people around to run things. No vision, no common sense. It's all within reach.

  13. I hear Tom Beusse is working on ways to monetize the dinner as part of his $300 million a year plan.

  14. Shouldn't Barikarim be shaking hands and making contacts for Gannett's sake instead of her self-serving ripped off tweets of "look at me, look at me"?

  15. 11:46 The Gannett Foundation annually gives 13 scholarships at $3,000 each to college students of Gannett employees.

    That is correct: 13, for a company that now employs 31,000 worldwide.

  16. Well, Jim, 13 is such a lucky number.

  17. All of these so called "journalism" organizations, from the White House correspondents to the Gridiron, Poynter, NAA, APME, ASNE, IRE and SPJ have done zero to stand up for their workers who are getting canned by the tens of thousands.The minority groups make a lot of noise but nothing happens. Let's face it. The top publishers and editors get bonuses each time there is a round of bloodletting. Then they go to fancy conventions to pat themselves on the back and lie about doing better journalism than less. They are cockroaches who sold their souls a long time ago to get their kids into private schools and elite colleges.

  18. Ok, so when did NYT decide to bow out of participating in this event? I'm rolling my eyes.

  19. Wondering if USAT will be at the table of VIP events 10 years from now ... How much stripping of a once fairly solid newsroom staff and hiring of incompetent replacements can be done before a news brand is no longer considered a legitimate player on the national media stage? Seems to me USAT is on a collision course with its beginnings, when its journalistic credibility was in question by more established newspapers. A lot of work went into reversing that negative perception. However, in recent years everything seems to be unraveling. Frankly, lags behind competitors on big stories and is so filled with errors that I don't see it coming to the rescue anytime soon. I am sure the workload at USAT isn't helping matters.

  20. Next year Maryam should just tweet over and over: "Look at me, look at me, look at me, look at me!"

    Maryam: every here of the saying "act like you've been there before?"


  21. Next time, Martore should go. I'm not sure what Maryim and Micek (M&M playahs) are doing at this suck up fest. Bad enough we have junior grade reporters covering the event like wide eyed school kids.

    and how many people showed up at the USA Today sponsored events outside the dinner? Pathetic and a new low.

  22. i'm confused. do you all really think that banikarim is taking credit for the quote. as journalists aren't we suposed to look at context? the tweet right before clearly quotes kimmel. don't think she also had a mr. mills for a teacher. can we find real things to be nasty about?


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