Slate’s crack legal writer Dahlia Lithwick has offered the White House press corps some unsolicited advice. She covers a Supreme Court that holds no news conferences and doesn’t allow cameras in the courtroom. She essentially advises the White House press to zip it and stop playing into the administration*’s hands by making demands that they don’t have to agree to.
Dahlia offers some semi-tongue-in-cheek tips to her White House counterparts. This is my favorite:
Sketch artists. Kudos to CNN, which has already sent in longtime SCOTUS sketch artist Bill Hennessy to draw the White House gaggle. Sketches lend a certain dashing aura of criminality and generalized thuggery to the proceedings and have the added benefit of enraging White House spokespeople, who believe they deserve better than line drawings and colored pencils.
That’s bound to result in Gum Spice pounding the podium and Spawn of Huck getting all pouty. Of course, Spicer might *want* to look like the Dapper Don instead of Melissa McCarthy in a bad suit.
The wisest piece of advice offered by Ms. Lithwick is this closing passage in which she urges nerdiness upon the WH press:
Be a nerd. Most Supreme Court correspondents know that if they want careers in television they should shift to covering the weather. For the most part, we are not creatures built of gotcha questions, Sunday morning grandstanding, or good hair. This is a press corps of nerds and wonks, and nobody has ever joined this beat to become famous. As a result, it is the kindest, most ego-free workplace I have ever known. We file our stories, eat dinner, and go home. As competing cults of personality have come to tower over the news in America, ask yourself why you aren’t a charter member of the Cult of Jess Bravin (Wall Street Journal). That guy works harder than anyone, doesn’t expect cameras to follow him around, and never believes he is the story. Unless Supreme Court justices are selling their autobiographies, you are unlikely to see them interviewed on camera, and when they do give lengthy interviews, they never say anything of substance.
This is, in short, an Oliver Twist–style press corps, accustomed to getting nothing and grateful for it. These folks learn to love the footnotes instead of the glamor. At a moment when we are stuck with a president who is solely a creature of celebrity culture, maybe a White House press corps made of anonymous dorks and dusty worker bees could be a breath of fresh air. There’s gold in them there footnotes. Life without TV cameras is still worth living. Life without a dorky, diligent press corps is not.
It’s hard to imagine the preening popinjays of teevee news with empty bowl in hand asking for “more sir.” It is, however, a helluva good image. I’ve been known to sling the odd Dickensian reference myself. Team Trump lends itself rather well to Oliver Twist: Trump is an orange variation on Fagin, Slumlord Jared is an inartful take on the Artful Dodger, and Steve Bannon is perfect casting as the thuggish Bill Sikes. It’s bound to be a bigger hit than the show they’re staging right now, which is bombing mightily. I guess I shouldn’t say bomb with North Korean missiles in the news.
That is all.