Thanks to Heather Timmons, White House editor for Reuters, whom I met a lifetime ago in summer 2016 as we tried to figure out what on earth was going on in the Republican Party, I got to hear President Biden’s speech at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in person last night. Speaking in the giant hall in the Washington Hilton where the event was held, the president was relaxed and funny, poking fun at himself, entrepreneur Elon Musk, former Fox News Channel host Tucker Carlson, and House speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). Finally, he embraced the Dark Brandon meme that suggests he has a laser-eyed alter-ego who ingeniously defeats his opponents.
Censorship of all writing is a fascist frontal attack on the first amendment. Silencing dissent by throwing legislators out of their seats is likewise the same thing. When dissent is silenced and guns are legal, chaos results, thus building pressure for a dictator to run things.
I am pleased to see that the Seattle Public Library is now joined with the Brooklyn Library in NYC to make all books banned anywhere available to anyone who wants to read them. A major step in fighting fascist work has been taken on both coasts, Brooklyn was first. Tell your library about it!
Thank you, Heather, for another letter that brightly highlights the contrasts between the administrations of tfg and President Biden. Wondering about the current status of VOA and Michael Pack, I am very pleased to find out he was asked by Biden to resign on January 20, 2021–barely two hours after he took office.
Thank you once again, HCR. You have an uncanny ability to identify and write about some of the most important subjects out there. Concisely. Knowledgeably. Beautifully.
I love that you were there!! How fun! And fitting. I know you’re an historian first, but your Letter From An American is my most important news source every day. The one I never miss.
Thank you, Dr. Richardson for another great and interesting story, especially the history of the WHCA of which I was unaware. Having a free and honest press corps and broadcast or cable TV REAL news is essential to any democracy. I salute the few truly honest members of the media who report what is happening without weighting it with their "both sides" garbage. Cheers to you for keeping us not only updated but giving us the historical background as a bonus.
President Biden was on his game. At 80. He’s running. Trump is running and lost Saturday night.
Tucker the Fucker of FOX was roasted. The nation and the world watched. Australia is lost.
Antisemite Woodrow Wilson hid with his stroke. Princeton University did not care.
The comic was Black and brilliant.
No one touched fascism - the ghost of Christmas past and present.
Fascism was the hidden agenda at the dinner. Freedom is on trial in America. Biden said exactly that.
Oddly comforting. Yes. A virtual reality, an ignored curiosity at FOX and in Texas and Florida.
And the House of Representatives.
Thank you, again, HCR, for the history lesson that puts depth and perspective into current events. It’s all a process; always evolving.
Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich is an object lesson that an American’s civil rights do not travel with him to foreign shores, especially into places like Putin’s Russia. Those rights are not even guaranteed here, as we have seen of late. They must be nurtured, cared for, and maintained against “patriots” designing to take those rights away from some of us.
Delighted you were able to attend! Hope the laughs in jest by the President himself were well received. Seems a great way to deflect criticism. Kudos to Dark Brandon! 😊
Maybe the biggest gift to democracy would be to revisit the power of the presidential pardon, a political gimmick used mainly on the last day of a presidents time in office with no oversight and apparently above the law with no limits.
Steve Bannon and Roger Stone are good examples. Convicted incarcerated criminals unleashed on the world that went right back to crime and chaos. That ain't democracy.
This piece is why we subscribe. Thank you.
Heather thank you for your letter. It is so reassuring to see the contrast between Biden and Trump. Biden relating and talking with the free press and Trump hiding from the press except for a few who support him. No wonder Trump loved Putin. Biden is helping us heal from the ravages of Trump and many of the radicals in the Republican Party. Thanks for reminding us of what Democracy is. We need to keep fighting for Democracy and voters rights.
Thank you, Heather, for highlighting the history of the WHCA. The following is an excerpt from President Carter's speech at the Correspondents' dinner in 1979. He highlights, all kidding aside, our nation's steadfast support for freedom of the press.
"It's been a pleasure being with you tonight and to have shared a few quiet moments on this solemn occasion. In our day-to-day dealings with each other, we occasionally—in our day-to-day dealings with each other, we often—in our day-today dealings with each other, we almost always aggravate the hell out of each other. [Laughter]
"And sometimes we do engage in what Washington semanticists call an adversary relationship. But as President of one of the greatest nations on Earth, I hope that we never forget that the people who founded this country planned it that way. This Nation of ours would be unimaginable without a free and a vigorous press. That's why, when the Founders wrote the Bill of Rights, they made the first amendment the lead. And may that never change."
I have seen a claim that I have not verified that there were 20,000 newspapers in the US in 1900 and less than 1400 today. Freedom of a responsible press is essential to democracy, but that freedom is arguably eroded as distribution of news and media are increasingly concentrated in the hands of an ever smaller group of wealthy owners.
I wonder how many of the reporters who filed stories on the 2023 WHCA knew its history? Historical context is an important light to shine on daily discourse, and as our nation ages, that context matures yet remains ever-important.
My first wife's family told a different story about Grover Cleveland's WH wedding. After refusing reporters at the wedding, Cleveland said he would allow his good friend, George Franklin Spinney, to attend, and Frank could brief the rest of the press afterward--as the first "pool reporter." Frank Spinney was my son's great-great-grandfather, a reporter for and later publisher of the New York Times.
Special kudos should be given to Biden for his references to the Black press. Most (non-Black) Americans don't know or appreciate the quality and importance of the Black magazines and newspapers he enumerated. The powerful and detailed new book HALF AMERICAN by Matthew Delmont about the treatment of Black men and women in the military during WW II is substantially based on articles printed by the Black press but ignored by the white press. I've never heard appreciation of those publications from such a public platform before, so again: Tnx to Biden (and his writers) for including that.