The Secret Service has received a lot of bad press lately. And they apparently have a pretty thin skin about it.
At the annual Gridiron Club dinner earlier this month, an elite affair bringing together Washington journalists and the politicians they cover, no one was spared from ridicule — including Secret Service agents, recently exposed by our colleague Carol Leonnig for possibly driving drunk onto the White House complex, the latest in a string of embarrassing incidents.
The agents in attendance were not amused.
In a letter obtained by the Loop to Gridiron President Clarence Page, a columnist for the Chicago Tribune, the trade association that represents the Secret Service let known its displeasure.
The Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association “understands a good joke,” wrote Jon Adler, the group’s president. “But the jokes concerning the Secret Service’s recent issues came off lowbrow and unappreciated by our Members working at the dinner.”
He took specific umbrage to Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe asking if there were any Secret Service officers “sober enough to drive me home.” Adler said McAuliffe should think about that comment the next time he visits the White House and sees agents putting “their lives on the line to protect and serve the President and the American people.”
In addition to politician standup routines, reporters perform skits complete with parody songs. The letter did not reference the Secret Service number “We’re Not Watching You,” to the tune of the Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” There was a mock White House fence with a big ‘Welcome’ sign, male reporters dressed as Colombian prostitutes and a drone flying above.
Adler chided reporters in attendance — who “make a living off of news stories about the Secret Service and other federal agencies” — for lacking good sense.
“But apparently, good sense didn’t exist at the dinner that night making the entire event, as advertised, a complete joke,” he wrote.
Page responded, also in a letter obtained by the Loop, apologizing for “any hard feelings it caused,” but that the jokes about the Secret Service were all in good fun.
“We poke fun at newsmakers and newsgatherers, but always, as our motto says, in a manner that will ‘singe, not burn’,” Page wrote. He closed the letter by thanking the agents for their service.
Seems even the toughest guys have a sensitive side.