George Graham

Why Didn’t I Find the Correspondents’ Dinner Funny?


I know: I am getting old. I have become a curmudgeon. I’m what the kids in Pasco County used to call a “Wrinklebeast.” No sense of humor. Aargh!

But I have to confess that I was not amused by the White House Correspondents Dinner on Saturday night.

Embarrased, yes. Shocked, yes. Horrified, yes. Amused? Not on your life!

I don’t giggle when the president of the United States calls dog meat “delicious.” I squirm. Indeed, it makes me sick to my stomach.

And the tasteless “roasting” of politicians and celebrities proved equally unappetizing.

Back in the days of Pope and Johnson, literary wags were adept at using wit to shred opponents’ arguments. They were experts in the art of well-expressed malice.

But today, the wit is gone. Only the malice remains.

I did not delight in the clumsy skewering of Keith Olbermann, for example, a troubled but loyal ally of the Obama Administration. Nor do I find it hilarious to compare  Newt Gingrich to the Michelin Tire logo. To me, it is rude to ridicule someone – anyone – for their weight problem, even Chris Christie, whom I abhor.

And I doubt Bill Maher will give the Obama campaign another million-dollar check anytime soon – not after being called an “asshole” by that silly Jimmy Kimmel (shown above getting a “high five” from the president).

(What’s funny about calling someone a dirty name, anyway?)

Do you find the behavior of those Secret Service agents amusing? To me, it is no joke when the most trusted law officers in the land are caught whoring and boozing in some foreign country. It’s a tragedy.

But the Washington establishment obviously thinks it’s a hoot.

I have often excused my own bad jokes by quoting Lincoln’s comment, “I laugh because I must not cry.” And I am familiar with the bromide that “laughter is the best medicine.”

But the jokes at that dinner were just plain sick. They certainly didn’t leave me feeling any better about the sorry state of affairs in this country – and the world.

As a former reporter and editor who tried very hard to be fair and diligent in practising my trade, I am insulted by the cynicism and slick sophistication the dinner displayed. It seems to imply that the corruption and dysfunction of Washington are just par for the course, that we should all just shrug it off as a big joke.

But I have news for the Washington news corps: the rest of us aren’t laughing.

For another jaundiced view of the dinner, click here.

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for