The morning following the 2016 White House Correspondents’ Dinner, CNN’s Reliable Sources featured Betsy Fischer-Martin, Ron Fournier and Tammy Haddad in a roundtable discussion with host Brian Stelter to talk about the relevance of the annual event. The conversation also included an analysis of this year’s presidential campaign coverage.
Fischer-Martin commented on how the tone of the dinner has evolved over the past 15-20 years, stating that media used to “invite our own sources” and “had one-on-one access,” which has changed as the Hollywood presence has increased over the years.
Defending the dinner, Haddad stated, “how bad can it be bringing all these people together? It’s getting more people involved in the process.”
Discussing how presidential campaign coverage has also changed over the years, Haddad said, “what we should also talk about is how reporters covering the Trump campaign have no access. The other thing about Trump is that he calls into shows…he’s so smart because he has figured it out, he can control the show. You have to listen to him until he finishes.”
Fournier commented that reporters need to “stop writing about what he says and how it affects poll numbers, and dig into what he’s really saying,” further suggesting that the media, “needs to hold him (Trump) accountable.”
“Scrutiny is what’s lacking. Candidates no longer do hour long interviews,” explained Fischer-Martin. “Investigative journalism costs money, it’s expensive to produce. A lot of news organizations don’t have those resources anymore.”
Responding to a question about the level of coverage the Trump campaign receives, Haddad said, “this man is running for president. Millions of people are following him. We’re not supposed to carry coverage? Isn’t that our responsibility?”