Media Ban! Making Sense of the War Between Trump and the Press
On Friday, February 24th, the Trump administration issued a “gaggle” against reporters from the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, CNN, and Politico, prohibiting them from gaining access to the White House press briefing. The ban was quickly followed by a boycott of the press meeting by Time magazine and the Associated Press. To their credit, these two outlets did what White House reporters should have already done – stop attending press conferences dominated by obvious fabrications, distortions, and propaganda. If MSNBC’s Morning Joe can divorce itself from the lies of Kellyanne Conway, certainly the New York Times can too, right? But losing access is the ultimate kiss of death in corporate journalism. The core of this system is based on maintaining access to high-level officials, so being blacklisted from press briefings is a devastating blow to establishment reporters.
The loss of access could be interpreted as the best thing to ever happen to papers like the New York Times. Instead of amplifying every absurd utterance out of the mouth of a carnivalesque tabloid president, they could be focusing instead on hard-hitting investigative journalism that would benefit the public. But in a media system where official sources are king, it’s unlikely the editors of major news outfits will see things this way. Predictably, they have expressed anger at being cut out of the loop of the Washington political power structure.
The full-on meltdown of the relationship between the Trump administration and the press had been steadily building late in the campaign cycle and into the first month of this presidency. The relationship between Trump and the press has grown increasingly conflicted with the issuance of the press ban. Trump himself rhetorically declared he was “at war” with the press upon taking office. His press secretary, Sean Spicer, took advantage of his first press conference to actively berate the press, refusing to take questions, and lambasting reporters for supposedly underestimating the size of the crowd attending Trump’s inauguration on the National Mall. Non-partisan fact checkers dismissed Spicer’s claims as false because of photographic evidence that Trump’s attendance was smaller than Obama’s 2009 inauguration crowd. The manufactured inauguration controversy has come to symbolize a Trump presidency that routinely provides false information to the press and the public. The administration quickly lost much of its credibility with the press establishment after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway asserted on NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd that “alternative facts” were just as good as real ones. Conway is far too obvious in expressing her contempt for the truth. It’s one thing to engage in subtle propaganda and manipulation; it’s quite another to rub reporters’ faces in it.Koko, broiles, 7wo7rees and 1 otherdisillusioned73 like thisIt ain't the things you don't know that hurts you, it's the things you know that ain't so.
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