Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.
Sunday, January 20, 2019

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters for America.

Donald Trump has a message for the White House press corps: The press briefing room the journalists have used since the 1970s belongs to him, and if he wants to take it away, he can.

On Saturday, Esquire reported that the incoming Trump administration has discussed evicting the press from the briefing room and holding the daily briefings with the press secretary in a space outside of the White House. “They are the opposition party,” a senior official told the magazine. “I want ’em out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”

But something is happening here that is more insidious than Trump and his administration lashing out at perceived enemies. According to CNN’s Brian Stelter, the administration is interested in potentially “stacking press conferences with conservative columnists and staffers from pro-Trump outlets.”

“The current briefing room only has 49 seats,” Trump press secretary Sean Spicer told Stelter, “so we have looked at rooms within the White House to conduct briefings that have additional capacity to accommodate members of media including talk radio, bloggers and others.”

I’m generally skeptical of the current structure of White House press briefings; while it’s important for a top White House aide to be answerable to the public on a daily basis, the fact that the briefings are televised live seems to encourage everyone involved to grandstand and limits the amount of actual news created by the practice. As former press secretaries have noted, this practice created a “theater of the absurd,” with journalists and staff alike subject to perverse incentives that prioritize optics over substance.

But retaining the daily, televised briefings while opening them up to a panoply of Trump sycophants will make them much, much worse, taking time away from real journalists and giving it to pro-Trump propagandists.

Urging the incoming Trump administration to adopt a similar plan in November, Newt Gingrich hinted at the effort’s real purpose: undermining the traditional press. “They should rethink from the ground up the whole concept of the White House press corps, come up with a totally new grass-roots model, and not allow the traditional media to dominate and define White House press coverage,” he told Sean Hannity

In other words, in order to limit the number of potentially fraught questions from professional journalists, the Trump administration will open the doors to hacks and charlatans.

Jeffrey Lord, one of CNN’s resident Trump supporters, previewed how this could work last night. He told Anderson Cooper, “I think a lot of members of the press are perceived as thinking, ‘This is ours.’ What happens, for instance, if Sean Spicer comes out one day and says not only is [Trump] going to Twitter, but we’re giving the first six seats in here to Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, et cetera, et cetera. And then we’re giving the rest, the next five, to various bloggers, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera.”

The White House press corps has and should remain welcoming to journalists of all political stripes. But White House press briefings will change dramatically if a vastly increased pool allows Spicer the opportunity to avoid damaging news revelations by directing questions to loyal outlets like Breitbart.com, Infowars, Right Side Broadcasting Network, One America News Network, Ingraham’s LifeZette, or the National Enquirer.

We saw how this could work in practice at Trump’s press conference last week. Trump had rarely publicly interacted with the press since his election, so there were a wide variety of pressing issues worthy of reporters’ attention. But the president-elect was able to soak up some of the precious question time by pivoting to softball questions from Breitbart and OANN.

Trump’s press conference behavior mirrored his general practice of using his platform to lift up outlets devoted to his success; for instance, over the past week, he has used his Twitter feed to promote LifeZette and OANN and to attack NBC News and CNN.

Overseas precedents demonstrate how this method, taken to the extreme, can be used to discredit the media and damage their ability to provide oversight. Alexey Kovalev, a Russian journalist who has covered Vladimir Putin’s annual press conferences, noted in the wake of Trump’s press conference last week that the Russian dictator has been able to defang the media by alternating questions between “people from publications that exist for no other reason than heaping fawning praise on him and attacking his enemies” and “token critic[s].”

As Gingrich’s November comments suggest, the floated plan to alter White House press briefings is based in a general denial of the media’s historical responsibility to inform the American public. We should expect Trump’s administration to do everything it can to do to hinder journalists’ efforts and reduce their credibility. He and his team treat the press as an enemy to be defeated and destroyed.

“You don’t have to think of The New York Times or CNN or any of these people as news organizations,” Gingrich explained last week. “They’re mostly propaganda organizations. And they’re going to be after Trump every single day of his presidency.”

Sean Hannity took this line of argument to its logical extreme in the wake of the election, stating that until the traditional press admit that they were “colluding” with the Clinton campaign (this is laughable), “they should not have the privilege, they should not have the responsibility of covering the president on behalf of you, the American people.”

Trump’s potential plans for the White House press briefings should be seen as a part of that strategy of delegitimizing journalists. It is a tangible step he can take to damage the press corps. The White House Correspondents Association has spoken out against the proposed move, but the group can’t stop the move if the administration really wants to go through with it.

The potential bright side is that journalists may respond to the Trump administration’s declaration of open war against the press by finding new ways to critically cover the new president without being so reliant on the access they have traditionally received from the White House. If they don’t take that opportunity, though, they’ll be following the rules of a game that no longer exists.

IMAGE: Media Matters

  • Share this on Google+0
  • Share this on Linkedin0
  • Share this on Reddit0
  • Print this page
  • 588

63 responses to “Trump Wants To Flood White House Press Briefings With Sycophants”

  1. Godzilla says:

    The National Memo should change it’s name to The National Whiner.

    • You’ll be here to whine no matter what the name — that’s a certainty.

    • Budjob says:

      Is it possible your Mother used your soft spot for a planter

    • Thoughtopsy says:

      Awwww….. You just sound sadder and sadder every post.

      Is Dirty Donnie getting you down?
      Has he ruined all your dreams yet?
      Is that buyer’s remorse I hear, Dumbzilla?

      LOL I’m going to enjoy rubbing this in SO much as Trump ruins things, that it should be illegal.

      Who knows. Maybe Trump will try to make it that way…. 😀

      • Dan S says:

        I blocked Godzilla awhile back but I see a lot of responses to whatever dribble he’s talking about. So you think he’s possibly regretting backing Trump ? Believe you me there will be a lot more buyers remorse once he’s officially sworn in tomorrow, God help us all.
        As far as throwing out the real press and inviting in more friendly news outlets from Fox to Breitbart I have one word for this maneuver, PROPAGANDA ????

    • I Am Helpy says:

      You should change your to Boring Traitor Dude.

  2. Trump wants to substitute the Press Room with dummies who are think alike. He might want to start with the usual chumps that show up here like T-cells attacking any disparaging unflattering remarks as though they were a foreign body in the “blood stream” of Trump. Too late, “T Cells”—The antibiotic resistance to Trump T Cells is too strong here.

    On another note, this article reminds one of the ending scene’s from “The President’s Analyst” with James Coburn. Just a darkened room of robots surveying the “Trumpscape”, wishing Donald well as walks towards disaster with Reality, away from Tweet Land.

  3. TZToronto says:

    Cut out the legitimate press at your peril. They don’t have to ask questions. They’re perfectly capable of reporting what you do. Without being able to explain your actions, you are at the mercy of those you oppose, who will be glad to do it for you.

    • The lucky one says:

      “They’re perfectly capable of reporting what you do.” Yes, Yes, Yes! But will they is the big question, or rather will their employers support it.

      • TZToronto says:

        I already see a major shift in CNN’s coverage. They used to have Trump sycophants on every panel to tell the liars’ side of everything. Now they seem to have people who are assessing Trump’s actions and tweets on a more rational basis. There are critics who don’t get drowned out by the ultra-right-wing nut jobs. I’m sure there are true journalists who are investigating all things Trump, and we’ll be seeing the fruits of their labors frequently after January 20.

        • The lucky one says:

          I think there are many reporters who would like to do their job but ever since ownership decided that the “News” had to be a profit center sensationalism became the norm. A piece about salacious allegations draws attention but a detailed piece on the interconnections of Trump’s cabal is deemed boring and doesn’t get exposure apart from alternate news websites.

          If editors and publishers don’t support true investigative journalism we won’t see much in MSM.

          We must demand it and make it clear we will not watch lame stream news and the ads they derive their revenue from unless they provide it.

          “I am not blaming those who are resolved to rule, only those who show an even greater readiness to submit”. — Thucydides

          • TZToronto says:

            Perhaps we’ll have to start boycotting products advertised on what have become soft news programs. We’ll have to tell advertisers that we won’t buy their products unless they demand hard news from the news shows they sponsor. And buy NOTHING that the Koch brothers make.

    • itsfun says:

      I wish the press would report the news and facts, not try to make news and make things up.

      • TZToronto says:

        I was going to respond, but I’m sure you think the far right always tells the truth and the traditionally respected news outlets–especially the New York Times–always makes things up. So I won’t respond, thank you.

        • itsfun says:

          I don’t think any media always reports the truth. I think all the media spins the news to what they want us to believe.
          Second: I don’t care one little bit if you respond or don’t respond to me.

  4. Eleanore Whitaker says:

    Once you take a look back at history, you see that power mad men always fail. What Trump the Titan of Trickery thinks is that HE the Almighty GOD will control the country, the people, the government and the media. Now what could be so wrong with that?

    Well, for one thing…Hitler did the same thing and he ended up offing himself. Stalin didn’t last long either with his bullying, his murders and death threats.

    Trump may be able to lock out the national news media, but he has NO control over the papparazzi in Europe and elsewhere. He already made a weak kneed attempt to “set the BBC straight” and it went no where. You bet the dirt will come out in the wash for The Baron of BS. It always does.

    His biggest and most pressing problem and that of the Republican Party is how to prevent the leaks they know are going to involve them. They are as guilty as Trump is.

  5. Arcmor says:

    The real journalists should take a stand and boycott en masse such farce. Otherwise they will play right into the hands of Trump as they have done throughout the campaign that resulted in him getting elected. DO NOT LET HIM GET AWAY WITH IT! Sorry for the caps but it is important for our democracy to survive.

    • Lola Johnson says:

      I’ve been saying this all along. The press need not be his whipping boy. When he no longer gets his much-needed attention, he may change his mind. Or quit.

      • FUZZFACE says:

        That could also be a dangerous tactic playing right into the hands of the Alt-Right.

        • Arcmor says:

          I can see that. But the press should simply “report” what he does – not what he says or tweets. The latter two are simply meaningless. Short term result will be dis-information put out through the right wing publications. However, ultimately people will recognize the realities whether jobs are being created or people are being thrown off their health insurance etc. The crap will rise to top, as always. You can fool some people….

  6. Apostol Pappas says:

    Get ready for major changes. Trump will not be led by the media who very often are indirectly prescriptive and frequently obnoxious towards him. Communication has changed dramatically the past decade, and information dissemination has changed. There will be media war. These changes will often be confronted with much resistance and criticism. Major changes are often brought about by unorthodox individuals, and often rebels. Trump is a rebel and a counter puncher, who is inclined to give more than he receives. Buckle up and hold tight. To “make America great again” is not going to be an easy task.

    • dbtheonly says:

      The Leader will not allow his message to be corrupted by the lying press.

      Where have we heard that before?

    • FUZZFACE says:

      Yes Apostol Pappas, you sound as if you speak of a dictator or Mein Führer. Yes let’s make Germany great again! Heil, mein Führer!

  7. FF says:

    It’s almost cowardice, in a way, not to confront what may be some tough scrutiny by the “unfriendly” press. Trump has only appeared on Fox News to do interviews for quite a while now, so he’s already been shielding himself from challenging interviews. I remember when Nixon said to the press “you won’t have me to kick around anymore” when he resigned. I wonder if Trump will feel the same way when he leaves office.

  8. I of John says:

    This has been tried before, albeit on a smaller scale. Simply put it doesn’t work. Pushing press out of the White House, although symbolically potent, will not stop the job of press coverage. He may create a propagandic backdrop to play in front of but that will just accellerate the slow death of the White House press conference. It was already slumping into irrelevance.

  9. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    DONNY DUMP dosent want the world to know any truth . he want all to know things as he in his DUMPSTER mind filled with B/S see things .all DONNY DUMP’S pass dealings with people he has fraud ,conned & scammed that he got caught doing that too he makes sure with a little box on the him paying them sheet it say if you tell anyone about this and try to tell the truth about this at all then you will break the contract . and doing that I then will SUE you and get the money back . THE TRUTH IS SOMETHING I WONT STAND FOR SAYS DONNY DUMP THE DUMPSTER FULL OF BULL CRAP

  10. ivory69690@yahoo.com says:

    all should keep the names of the DUMPSTERS whole staff for its these people that are learning and becoming the evils of DONNY DUMP will only use these nasty deeds thy learn in the future . always follow the evil top of the brain dead line to protect your self and our country

  11. The lucky one says:

    “stacking press conferences with conservative columnists and staffers from pro-Trump outlets.” that may backfire if he actually brings in real conservatives and not just fawning jackasses like Hannity. A true conservative has principles, whether we agree with them or not, and Trump has shown repeatedly that he has none.

    “The potential bright side is that journalists may respond to the Trump administration’s declaration of open war against the press by finding new ways to critically cover the new president without being so reliant on the access they have traditionally received from the White House.” Exactly do some investigative journalism and expose the hypocrisy and lies that Trump exudes daily. Forget the salacious gossip, unless it is corroborated, report the facts. Let the pundits hash out what they think it means. Do some hard nose reporting. We the people may surprise you.

    • dbtheonly says:

      Which is why he’ll only have those who love Big Brother.

      And many of those Conservatives of whom you speak, are trying to join the Administration of The Leader.

      On the other hand the people respond to cat videos.

      • The lucky one says:

        “On the other hand the people respond to cat videos.” Too true.

        I don’t think there are many real conservatives or real progressives for that matter. Most have morphed into neolibs and neocons. Many of the people on either side are just partisans blindly loyal to their side, people like Helpy. Most politicians are opportunists that will say anything and pledge fidelity to whomever is driving the gravy train.

        • dbtheonly says:

          I believe we’ve discussed this before, but the idea of “real” liberals and conservatives is more an exercise in the futility of the labeling than any real definition of the beliefs. We’ll each have our opinions on the issues, but we’ll never completely agree down the line.

          C. Northcote Parkinson said it best 50 years ago. Politics is a team sport.

          Politics, and public service, is not a particularly well paying career. I can’t avoid feeling that some enter the field because of the good they might do.

          • The lucky one says:

            I think some do go in with good intentions but I think most of those, a minority to begin with, get jaded very quickly and are either co-opted or leave politics. My reading of history tells me it has nearly always been the case though I think the scales have tipped in a negative way recently, last 50 years.

          • Jmz Nesky says:

            That’s because they’ve developed a seniority list where the veterans run the shop and stifle the rookies to the point where they either bow out or become so envious of the power knowing that eventually they will inherit it and the carousel goes ’round and ’round. Remember, one of the perks of power is the opportunity to indulge with inside information that can equate to great financial profit.

          • The lucky one says:

            I think most go in it for the potential “great financial profit” and some crave having power over others. The latter are more dangerous than the ones who are just greedy. It’s even true at the lower levels of government. The mayor of my village of about 6000 has run a number of shady deals to benefit his construction company. Nothing easily proved but apparently due to inside info. Once could be a coincidence but a pattern exists. When confronted he says that he has a right to make a living too and the gullible just nod their heads.

          • Jmz Nesky says:

            Yep, And they always seem to use the humanity of others in order to justify their underhandedness.

    • I Am Helpy says:

      Reminder: you helped get Trump elected.

      • The lucky one says:

        Reminder: You are still deluded. But no, you’re right. I got Trump elected and just for kicks I got all the GOP congresspeople elected too and heck why stop there so I got the GOP governors in too. Too funny.

        • I Am Helpy says:

          See previous post.

          • dbtheonly says:

            We, as Democrats, have failed over the past 8 years. We can, and should, define where we have failed. Clinton emails did not cost us half a dozen Senate races. Russian fake news did not cost us a dozen Governors races. FBI rumors did not cost us literally hundreds of State Legislative races.

            The time for blame is over. The time to fix has begun.

  12. Jim Samaras says:

    Right now Trump has the people on his side. To many it seemed clear that the press was on the Clinton bandwagon during the campaign but he must be careful as to not shut out even his detractors. If he does the good job I believe he will those detractors will hang themselves as they have done in the recent past.

  13. BREAKING NEWS: Most people get their news from sources other than CNN or NYT.

  14. Thomas Martin says:

    Again, the media should simply stay away from the loaded up press conferences. Why go? You aren’t going to get the scoop. Get out on the street and critical places to get your information. A press conference is a poor place to learn new information, which is always leaked prior to the conferences anyway.

  15. itsfun says:

    What is wrong with allowing more people in the press room? The press room should be bigger. The press briefings can be seen on TV. The liberal media must be afraid of a press room that will have equal representation.

    • FUZZFACE says:

      His intent is to fill it with mostly right-wing/conservative journalists and fill what extra space he can provide with his paid campaign people in order to use the time to his advantage allowing those journalist who agree with him to ask most of the questions while allowing little time for disagreeing journalists who will be shouted out by the paid campaigners. Voila! Isn’t that clever. If you haven’t noticed itsfun, most of the media is considered liberal and progressive and has always done most of the questioning and I don’t mean that in a bad way.

      • itsfun says:

        If you were in his place would you fill it with progressives who hate you?

        • FUZZFACE says:

          No, if I were like Donald I’d do exactly what he is doing, however, I’m not the President of the militarily strongest country of the world trying to hide or mask my agenda so that a biased press will print only what I want them to know. Actually you might be surprised to know that I want Trump to succeed and to send this country in a more stable direction than what has happened in the past. But I also understand the fears of the nation as a whole because we’re all Americans and I don’t support creating divisions by labeling people as Un-American, Un-Patriotic, Libtards, Right-wing nuts, DemoRats, Trumpsters, etc.. I do believe you want what’s best for this Great country, however, since it’s obvious you voted for Trump it’s also up to you to look out for all your family, neighbors and friends regardless of who they voted for. Please just tell him to put his twitter account away for the next 4 years.

          • itsfun says:

            I like the twitters or tweets or whatever they are called. No media spin can be put on them or the media can’t report only half of what he says. They may be his only defense against a media that hates him. I like the new President being transparent and telling everyone of us how he feels and what he wants to do. I don’t know if I voted for Trump as much as I voted against Hillary.

        • I Am Helpy says:

          “What’s wrong with treason, anyway?” asked the traitor.

    • Carole Moore says:

      Please stop being so juvenile and silly….

      • itsfun says:

        what is wrong with allowing more people in the press room? Your type of comment means nothing. If you have a answer lets hear it. Otherwise you are just wasting your time and mine.

        • Carole Moore says:

          It’s your usual bs statement of “liberal media” that is childish, there is nothing wrong with more media or people in the press room… but instead of having an adult discussion, you always throw in the additional biased crap, which is sooo unnecessary.. that’s why no one finds you credible…

    • I Am Helpy says:

      “What’s wrong with installing an authoritarian dictatorship, anyway?” said the traitor.

  16. Girlpower says:

    We all know frumpy will try to block the free press but Hillary’s message got her 3 million more votes than frumpy. So she won the message and her 66 million voters won’t go unheard. We intend to show the repubs we won’tbe ignored. I’m 60 years old and I’ve never protested anything in my life but nothing will keep me from being in the Women’s March on Saturday. I intend to voice my first amendment rights.

  17. A. D. Reed says:

    Many in the traditional professional media world, those who actually understand journalism, respect facts and dig for them, and try to ensure that what they write and publish is true, will probably be forced (nothing wrong with this) to develop sources inside the government who will provide tips, leads, anonymous information, etc. They will have to dig rather than accept whatever bulls**t the trumpeters hand them on a platter. Might be a good thing.

  18. Jmz Nesky says:

    Well if that’s Trump’s intention and he follows the steps of that intention it won’t work.. We in the real world already know who the faux dolts are and once they start their BS propaganda our answer will be to swiftly turn the channel to the Simpsons.. They will only draw in the airheads who have always believed their useless lies. I for one will not be fooled.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.