Defending fake journalists

On Saturday night, the Writers Guild of America honored CPJ with the Evelyn F. Burkey award, which recognizes contributions that have “brought honor and dignity to writers everywhere.” CPJ Chairman Paul Steiger and I accepted the award. As Paul noted in his remarks, CPJ couldn’t do its work without “the encouragement of writers and journalists around the world.” The New York Times had a nice blog entry on the event. 

Aside from Paul’s somber remarks, it was a pretty uproarious and profane evening, with John Oliver of The Daily Show serving as host. Don’t expect to watch the WGA awards on network television–think HBO. To give a sense of tone of the evening, Jerry Stiller, one of the presenters, riffed on the stimulus package by suggesting it was part of his anatomy.

I’m a huge fan of John Oliver so I couldn’t miss the opportunity to introduce myself, even if I felt a bit sycophantic. He was incredibly gracious and friendly. Like all The Daily Show correspondents, Oliver plays a fake journalist on the show but his persona is particularly obnoxious. I told Oliver that even though he wasn’t a real journalist, CPJ was prepared to come to his defense if necessary. If you watch this clip, in which it appears the Kenyan ambassador to the United Nations is about to lose his cool, you can see that this is not entirely hypothetical. Oliver’s ‘reaction? “This is an incredibly depressing conversation.”

Be safe, John Oliver. CPJ will be watching your back.