Cranky, magnificent bastards

That’s what talk show host Craig Ferguson called us over the weekend, and it was a compliment. The host of the CBS Late Late Show entertained a packed crowd at the annual White House Correspondents Association Dinner in Washington on Saturday night. Mixed in with the jokes about Vice President Cheney already moving out of his official residence (“it takes a long time to pack up an entire dungeon”) , there were a few barbs and bouquets for the press.

First, he took a shot at The New York Times for not buying a table:

They felt that this event undercuts the credibility of the press. It’s funny, you see, I thought that Jayson Blair and Judy Miller took care of that…Now let me try this: Shut the hell up, New York Times, you sanctimonious whining jerks!

But Ferguson saved his best line for last. Telling the audience he knew that the room would be full of contentious and contrary people, people who argue all the time, he reminded us “we need that.”

Please never ever ever agree with each other, never stop arguing, never stop fighting, you cranky magnificent bastards. God bless you and god bless America,everyone.

Watch it!

Personal note: I used to go to this dinner all the time when I covered Washington. It’s a very different event now–more Hollywood than DC–complete with red carpet, velvet ropes and screaming fans wanting pictures and autographs. The dinner has long raised questions about the ethics of journalists getting too chummy with their sources. But that was back when invited guests were mostly politicians or high-level government officials. These days, the place is packed with “celebrities,” although some of them must have wondered why they came. As I was leaving I saw Kal Penn of Harold and Kumar fame standing by a table looking a bit lost.

The Washington Post says the “the see-and-be-seen ethos of the event has overtaken its original purpose: to give awards.”  I’ll say. One other sign of how things have changed: Because the President almost always attends the dinner, you could usually count on seeing a knot of protesters outside, opposing some administration policy. This year, the only protestors I noticed had a different complaint: liberal media bias. Bizarre.