Journalism and vulgarism
Such, Such Were the Joys, Orwell once wrote as he waxed nostalgic over his school days. For many in the left-wing media circles who presently vent opprobrium for the nightmare that is President Trump, the Joys refers to the era of Camelot for them, which naturally reached its zenith under Obama but nevertheless remained in the ascendant under Bush, in which was still possible that some loutish comedian like Stephen Colbert might be able to elicit a few cackles from that most elite reception of Washingtonian luminaries at the annual White House Correspondents' Dinner.
Thankfully, not anymore.
I believe that Fox News's Bret Baier best encapsulated the essence of so many who bore witness to that ghastly performance by Miss Michelle Wolf the other night when he tweeted the following suggestion:
Maybe this week – the #WHCA should announce that there will be NO dinner in 2019. Take the year off. Instead, use the year to raise a lot money for journalism scholarships (networks step up) – present scholarships & then come back in 2020 with a rebooted-retooled #WHCADinner.
In addition to capturing the maelstrom of cringing and embarrassment that outraged anyone so unfortunate to have sat through Wolfe's "performance," Mr. Baier's response also spoke to a tectonic shift in today's politics, where the liberal establishment's previous debaucheries-veiled-as-humor no longer hold water – at least to the degree that they did in previous administrations.
All of this is good for conservatives, and particularly those on board with the renewed political idiom that bespeaks Trump's administration. Though there were indeed a few negatives from that night – Wolfe has been accorded her fifteen minutes of fame, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders was cruelly made the source of some humorless and stupid punch lines (it was commendable that Matt and Mercedes Schlapp walked out in disapproval), these are transient, and soon to be quickly overwhelmed by all the positives that will result from the near universal condemnation by those still in possession of some semblance of a moral backbone.
First and foremost, any question of a reciprocated sanctimonious response from the political class who professes to go "high" (whatever that means) when others "go low" went quickly out the window. If anything, this year's WHCA was vindication that liberals, not conservatives, are primarily if not exclusively responsible for engendering the despoiled state of raunchy political rhetoric that currently plagues this country. They, the virtue-signalers, who stand athwart Mount Sinai commanding as though by decree of God the evanescent morals of the day, behind closed doors (and more often now in front of them), wallow themselves in such grotesqueries. It is rather astonishing (and admirable for those who did) that in today's boundary-less media and political climate, several journalists actually openly condemned Wolf's performance. It seems that as caustic as President Trump might appear to some; his political clout is such that despite the sweeping nihilism that engulfs the modern left, his outsized political influence is enough to create actual ethical barriers of conduct, and on enemy territory, no less – an incredible feat!
Since President Trump's election, the contagion of vulgarity has spread like wildfire throughout left-wing circles in the media and popular culture. While the president has in large part reined in his more caustic rhetoric from the campaign trail, leftists have doubled down and, by virtue of their preordained position of society's moral arbiters, can seamlessly excuse the vitriol they routinely spew in the name of some censorious buzzword or half-baked platitude. Take, for instance, CNN's unhinged response to the president's alleged profanity about developing nations or the eruption of anti-Trump artwork that has saturated much of the public arena over the past fifteen or so months and has been displayed countless times on network television.
In taking a broader, philosophical perspective, none of this comes as a shock. Modern liberalism has steadfastly worked as a corrosive agent against public morality since at least the time of Herbert Marcuse and the institutionalization of New Left values about a half-century ago. Since then, our popular culture has been increasingly compromised by an unapologetic vulgarity that has reached even more noxious and insidious levels as new media forms continuously emerge that make the field's democratization all the more realizable. Conservatives will benefit, and in large part have already benefited, from the truly deplorable performance of the 2018 WHCA. The question remains as to whether these ongoing political victories can somehow seize a cultural zeitgeist spiraling toward even greater, deeper vulgarity by the day.
Paul Ingrassia is a graduate of Fordham University and former White House intern for President Trump.