Best Medicine At Press Dinner

It isn’t easy for President Bush to admit any missteps, and he wasn’t about to do so at the annual celeb-packed White House Correspondents’ Association dinner a week ago. In front of 2,500 journalists, including Shoptalk, Bush said he would offer some self-deprecating jokes. “But I couldn’t think of any mistakes I made,” he said.

Bush offered tips on how news conferences might work better. “We can do it this way,” he said. “You can ask a question. I can tell Bob Woodward. And he can tell you.” As for the economy, he said, “It gets me when the critics say I haven’t done enough for the economy. Look what I’ve done for the book-publishing industry. The Lies of George W. Bush. Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them. … I’d like to tell you that I’ve read these books, but that would be a lie.” Thankfully, his jokes ended there, sidelined in favor of musings on God, war and patriotism.

When Jay Leno took the podium, he touched on advertising. He said political attack ads have gotten out of hand and, to prove his point, showed a video of John Kerry robbing a convenience store.

One Washington insider said publishers seem to be sending more of their advertisers to the dinner. “As it has become more of a sought-after ticket, where publications want to impress their advertisers, reporters are getting squeezed out,” Tom Riley, a rep with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, told Shoptalk.

Maybe so. Then again, clients always get blamed for everything.