In what could force a reexamination of what often is regarded as an all-too-chummy relationship between the administration and the "fourth estate," the New York Times has confirmed that it will no longer attend the annual White House Correspondents Association dinners in Washington. The decision by the newspaper was originally revealed in a column by the Times's Frank Rich, who wrote Sunday that the event "illustrates how easily a propaganda-driven White House can enlist the Washington news media in its shows." It also comes days after a Congressional hearing looked into charges that the Pentagon had, for propaganda purposes, fabricated an elaborate account about the death of former NFL star Pat Tillman in Afghanistan, who was eulogized by President Bush at the 2004 WHCA dinner. No other news organization immediately indicated that it would follow the Times's lead. Last week incoming WHCA President Ann Compton of ABC News, discounted the growing complaints that the dinner is unethical, telling Editor & Publisher, that the charges are "way overdone."
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This lively romp is entertaining enough to amuse the audience even when it veers off the rails.