Ed Henry of CNN, who is also president of the White House Correspondents Association, tried to defend his attendance at Joe Biden's beach party picnic for the press last week. During an appearance on NPR's 'On The Media,' this weekend, Henry said such critics do not have a sense of humor.
Henry says the event will not change his coverage. Perhaps, but he misses the point, it is a conflict of interest. Pure and simple.
Then Maureen Dowd of The New York Times also did so, noting in her column June 11: "Jon Stewart and bloggers mocked the journalists, suggesting they were too chummy with power. But the picnic was on the record, and good reporters can't be co-opted by some cold French fries. Whenever you see politicians in a relaxed or stressful situation, beyond the usual teleprompter speeches and scripted photo ops, you learn something about those charged with making life and death decisions. You may even pick up some news."
Yes, but there is a difference between a business lunch or even an interview at the veep's home and attending a party he is throwing for you. Again, conflict of interest, or perceived conflict. Dowd's own newspaper saw such a conflict with the annual White House Correspondents Dinner that it banned reporters from attending.