Obviously, there has been no shortage of news to cover over these past few weeks. And these have been some very hard days for too many of our citizens. Even as we gather here tonight, our thoughts are not far from the people of Boston and the people of West, Texas. There are families in the Midwest who are coping with some terrible floods. So we've had some difficult days.
Like any presidential address of note, Obama didn't let spirits sag.
But even when the days seemed darkest, we have seen humanity shine at its brightest. We've seen first responders and National Guardsmen who have dashed into danger, law-enforcement officers who lived their oath to serve and to protect, and everyday Americans who are opening their homes and their hearts to perfect strangers.
And, like any decent presidential address, Obama pandered a bit. Remember, this was a dinner celebrating White House reporters.
And we also saw journalists at their best — especially those who took the time to wade upstream through the torrent of digital rumors to chase down leads and verify facts and painstakingly put the pieces together to inform, and to educate, and to tell stories that demanded to be told.
He didn't need to tell the crowd that many news organizations reported inaccuracies about the Boston bombings. Nor did he mention the relatively little coverage given to regulatory failures in West Texas. With a nod to one newspaper and to NBC reporter Pete Williams's impressively accurate coverage in Boston, Obama subtly reminded journalists that their industry is nothing without the public's trust.
If anyone wonders, for example, whether newspapers are a thing of the past, all you needed to do was to pick up or log on to papers like the Boston Globe. When their communities and the wider world needed them most, they were there making sense of events that might at first blush seem beyond our comprehension. And that's what great journalism is, and that's what great journalists do. And that's why, for example, Pete Williams's new nickname around the NBC newsroom is "Big Papi."
Obama happens to be president at a time when virtually all of the nation's social institutions are losing the public's trust and facing irrelevancy in the digital age. There are exceptions--the military, for example--and Americans are generous in their praise of those who serve causes greater than themselves.
And in these past few weeks, as I've gotten a chance to meet many of the first responders and the police officers and volunteers who raced to help when hardship hits, I was reminded, as I'm always reminded when I meet our men and women in uniform, whether they're in war theater, or here back home, or at Walter Reed in Bethesda — I'm reminded that all these folks, they don't do it to be honored, they don't do it to be celebrated. They do it because they love their families and they love their neighborhoods and they love their country.