May 6, 2012

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Tom Brokaw blasts the White House Correspondents Association dinner. 

On Meet the Press Sunday, Tom Brokaw of NBC News, an iconic figure in broadcast journalism, ripped into the annual ritual that media people in DC call “the prom.” They call it that because they hope that their gentle ridicule will defuse some of the rage that they know the event inspires outside the Beltway club.

Brokaw essentially told them that the game is up. The people he meets on his book tours are saying: “What’s happened with political coverage in America? We don’t feel connected to it.” The White House Correspondents Association dinner, he said, symbolically “separates the press from the people they’re supposed to serve.” Brokaw acknowledged that he was a charter member of the club. But… “It is time to to rethink it.”

Here’s what gave Brokaw’s comments some teeth: Sitting right next to him were two people who would have to do the rethinking. NBC’s Chuck Todd is one of the stars of the dinner as perhaps the world’s most visible White House correspondent. Brokaw said he loves hanging with George Clooney as much as the next guy, but is this really what we should be doing?  On March 18, host David Gregory had interviewed George Clooney for Meet the Press, so obviously his answer is: yeah! 

Gregory’s only audible response to his senior colleague was: “point taken.” Todd said nothing. Then it was on to the next thing. Gregory had a perfect chance to reflect on Brokaw’s criticisms in a small web-only feature he does after the show; he declined to do so. But he did find time to plug his interview with Robert DeNiro. 

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