Is the press the enemy of the people? I think not, but President Donald Trump certainly gets people going when he says that. He’s known for his rallies and talking about the three things that he knows gets a reaction: the press, the Democrats (and in particular “crooked Hillary,” which begets chants of “Lock her up”) and of course the wall that he wants built on the United States-Mexico border.
On Thursday, CNN’s Jim Acosta asked White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders about the press, and the exchange went like this:
Sanders: “The president is rightfully frustrated. Ninety percent of the coverage on him is negative, despite the fact that the economy is booming, ISIS is on the run, and American leadership is being reasserted around the world.
Just this week, the media refused to cover his remarks in Florida, highlighting efforts on workforce development. In fact, the pooler for the press said that there was no news made, despite the fact that the governor of the state joined with dozens of businesses across the state of Florida to announce thousands of new jobs.
That may not be news in Washington, D.C., but I can assure you that it’s news in the state of Florida, that people that didn’t have a job before this president took office have better opportunity and the opportunity to have a job moving forward. That’s actually real news and something that people in the state of Florida and across this country appreciate. And that was totally ignored.
Not only that — before, a journalist on CNN claimed that the president hadn’t taken questions in over a week, despite the fact that same journalist did a live shot from the two-and-two press conference that the president had with the prime minister of Italy just moments after making that accusation.
With this sort of misinformation and lack of interest that’s so pervasive in the media, it’s completely understandable for the president to be frustrated.”
As I’ve stated in this column, I’ve been cleaning out things I’ve saved for years. I found lots of things from the Bill Clinton era, and the press was not very complimentary about Clinton, especially after the Monica Lewinsky scandal and the impeachment trial. However, no one took issue with the press. The press was just doing its job, which meant reporting on the news even if it made the leader of the free world, President Bill Clinton, not only look bad, but look like a jerk.
Fox News’ Political Editor Chris Stirewalt said on Friday that news outlets should cease sending reporters to President Trump’s rallies, stating their presence allows Trump to use them as a “prop.”
“Everybody should stop having reporters penned up like veal in the back of those things for the president to use as a prop, and then some of the reporters exploit that for their own personal benefit.” Stirewalt added, “This is not helping anybody. Get out of the hall. Leave the cameras, get the reporters out of the hall. Quit letting him use you as a foil.”
Stirewalt is right. Several years ago I wrote about bringing back the morning gaggle — reporters who used to stand at the press secretary’s desk (no cameras) — and everyone could ask a question. Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino stopped the gaggle, saying the on-camera briefing was just a repeat of the morning. She was right … except people that normally did not get to ask questions at the briefing could speak.
It is time the press accesses who really is helpful to reporting —and stop being a prop and sitting duck for any president.