Actual Press Coverage to Be Limited for a Trump Presidency?
Will Donald Trump’s unprecedented disdain for the mainstream media lead to various forms of state-controlled press, like Russian president Vladimir Putin has created?
Here was Trump at a rally, attacking the “dishonest” media, less than one week before the election. That attack included calling out by name Katy Tur of NBC News, who was in the press box:
The press and the American presidency traditionally have had a relationship that at times appears adversarial, while at other times is viewed as seemingly cozy and nearly conspiratorial in nature. While the American people have come to expect this state of affairs, the election of Donald Trump as the 45thÂ President of the United States has drastically altered the very dynamics of that relationship.Â
Media critics, watchdog groups, and Trump’s opponents have charged that the President-elect has manipulated, bullied, and cajoled American media into covering his campaign, and now presidential transition, without regard to his more egregious actions, statements, flip-flops, or outright misstatement of fact. His detractors claim that media outlets seem uninterested or unable to holding him accountable. Â Â
One troubling factor is Trump’s ability and penchant for going around the mainstream media via social media to engage with the public directly. Veteran journalist and senior editor, Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Postâ€™s media columnist, noted this past week:
In many ways, Trump can bypass the traditional press â€” using YouTube or Twitter to take his message to the world without pesky journalistic fact-checking or filtering.Â
He has masterfully manipulated the media for the past 18 months â€” bullying reporters, garnering billions in free publicity and portraying journalists as part of the corporate structure that must be brought down so that the people can triumph.
Thatâ€™s a deeply misleading and dangerous picture. In fact, U.S. citizens need an independent press more than ever.Â
Journalists, and their corporate bosses, shouldnâ€™t allow themselves to be used as props in Trumpâ€™s never-ending theater.
Trump’s willingness to by-pass the media sets a dangerous precedent according to David Karpf, a political communications professor at the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. Speaking with CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) political journalist Matt Kwong Tuesday, Karp warned:
“If Trump effectively shuts down the White House press corps, and only provides interviews to some amalgamation of Breitbart.com and Fox News,” he says, “there’s a very real risk that within six months to a year we’re going to have something that looks like [state-controlled] Russia Today and [former Soviet newspaper] Pravda.”Â
Is it possible that a marginalised press corps is a path to a “quasi-state-controlled apparatus” in the U.S.? Yes, according to a broadcast news executive for Comcast-Universal, the parent company of NBC News. Speaking with NCRM on the condition of anonymity, he said, â€œThese are valid concerns raised by Professor Karpf.â€Â
The executive, knowledgeable about the meeting held at Trump’s transition headquarters this week in New York between various media representatives and the President-elect, indicated that Trump and his team’s disdain for the collective gathering was obvious:Â
â€œHe [Trump] was lecturing the media representatives present, complaining that their coverage was biased and unfair. At one point he became agitated over one media outlet’s use of photograph that he deemed made him less attractive with a double chin.â€
â€” Lance Burson (@lanceburson) November 24, 2016
There was nothing of policy import, no discussions of a post-election press conference, the type normally held by a president-elect within the first days of winning office and no concrete commitment by either Trump or his transition team regarding allowing for greater press access, daily briefings, or a pool to cover him.
Take, for example, the report published late Wednesday thatÂ findsÂ President-elect Trump has had more contact with Russian President Vladimir Putin than any other world leader, and their aides have been communicating as well.
Then take the response of Jason Miller, the Trump transition team’s communications director’s response to reporters:
.@JasonMillerinDC on reported contacts between Trump/Russians â€œWe donâ€™t have anything additionally to report at this time on that issueâ€
â€” Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) November 25, 2016
Lynn Walsh, president of the Society of Professional Journalists, an organisation whose stated mission is to promote and defend the First Amendment guarantees of freedom of speech and freedom of the press as well as encourage high standards and ethical behavior in the practice of journalism; echoing Professor Karpf’s concerns to CBC’s Kwong cautioned:
“All the information is coming through one filter. It’s Trump’s opinion, his angle, his team, without allowing anyone from the outside â€” whether a journalist or the public â€” to question it.”
Trump has used Twitter to defend himself against conflict of interest allegations over his continuing involvement in his global business empire, attempted to spin coverage of a $25 million settlement in the Trump University fraud cases, incited feuds with news outlets, most notably The New York Times. Then too, in an extraordinary never before seen display of anger by a president-elect, Trump lashed out at the cast of the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton” after they lectured Vice President-elect Mike Pence who was in the audience last week and also taking aim at NBC’s ‘Saturday Night Live’ whose comedic parody of him he deemed ‘unfunny’ and said that the show needed to go away.Â
Trump and his team limiting press access was defended by Fox News pundit Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel program Tuesday night. Hannity stated that Trump should reconsider granting traditional access to reporters until they and their media bosses admit to colluding with Hillary Clintonâ€™s campaign. â€œTrump can do this and speak directly to you, the America people, without having his words twisted and taken out of context,â€ he said.Â
Mike McCurry, former White House press secretary for President Bill Clinton was more blunt in his assessment. “He’s saying, ‘I’ve got some power that you barons in the mainstream media are losing,’ and that’s direct access to an audience through social media,” McCurry said. The bottom line as far as Trump is concerned?Â McCurry opined that Trump’s overall sense of his relationship with the press seems to be one of: “I can make you pay a price if you’re not willing to work with me.”
Adding to media’s consternation, Trump and his team have been seemingly resistant to adopting the “protective pool,” a tradition that dates back decades, which allows a small group of reporters, representing the extended White House press corps and other media, access to the president-elect, keeping them near in the event of breaking news or national security.
Since his election Trump has ditched the press, first when he barred the pool from flying with him on his plane when he went to Washington to meet with President Obama, and afterwards simply returning to New York without alerting the press he had left D.C. Then a few days later after his spokesperson had called a “lid” to the reporters assigned to him, he and his family left for a dinner unannounced at Manhattan’s 21 Club. The â€œlidâ€ should have signaled an end to the day’s activities for the president-elect. Although the press pool did travel to Florida with Trump for Thanksgiving, in move seen again as out of ordinary for a president-elect, they were flown on a separate plane.Â
Communication and the free-flow of information from an incoming presidency is a must for a free and democratic society to be kept informed as to the actions of its leaders. In the case of the American presidency it probably more so critical given the nature of the office and a president’s impact on the global community at large. Trump’s seeming indifference and disregard for the previously established traditions and conventions sets a dangerous precedent.
Brody LevesqueÂ is the Chief Political Correspondent forÂ The New Civil Rights Movement.
You may contact Brody atÂ Brody.Levesque@thenewcivilrightsmovement.comÂ
Image: Screenshot via Bloomberg Politics/YouTubeÂ
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‘Sexy’: Comer Obtains Unredacted Emails to VP Biden Revealing Women ‘Privately Mused’ They Found Him Attractive
Amid the chaos of what top Democrats are calling the GOP House’s “civil war,” infighting that threatens to shut down the federal government in nine days, Oversight Committee Chairman Jim Comer has been obtaining some of then-Vice President Joe Biden‘s emails from the National Archives.
Politico reveals Chairman Comer has been able to obtain several unreacted emails, including one which relayed a tidbit of hearsay, or, “private musings,” from 2009, after an overseas trip Biden took: “multiple” women said they found the Vice President “sexy.”
The emails “include schedules with ordinary family get-togethers,” Politico adds. “One shows Biden had lunch with Hunter Biden’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan. Another reveals that the Ukrainians were praising his now-deceased brother, Beau. And then there are the private musings of multiple Georgian women saying they found Joe Biden ‘sexy’ during a 2009 trip that also included a stop in Ukraine.”
“’Must-read email below,’ read an email forwarded by Biden’s then-national security adviser Tony Blinken to Joe Biden and his sons, Hunter and Beau. The email’s subject line: ‘Biden as new Georgian sex symbol.'”
Other emails from the National Archives’ trove include a “June 14, 2016 schedule card shows Biden was to meet with the prime minister of Ukraine. The newly unredacted portions show he was also scheduled to work out with his personal trainer, and to dine with Hunter’s then-15-year-old daughters, Maisy and Finnegan, in the vice president’s office.”
Politico, noting that “Republicans have yet to turn up direct evidence that Joe Biden benefited personally or that he took any official action as a result of those [Hunter Biden’s] connections, also reveals a “May, 27, 2016 schedule card includes a call with former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko. Hunter Biden was copied on the day’s schedule. It’s already been reported that Biden was also due to attend the one-year anniversary of the passing of his son, Beau, back home in Delaware.”
“Comer had been pointing to this scheduling item, since it was also emailed to then-Vice President Biden under a pseudonym email address. Comer even said the vice president was sending a secret message to his son that he was about to fire the prosecutor. As recently as last week, Comer included that email on a list of ‘evidence’ of Joe Biden’s ‘involvement in his family’s influence peddling schemes.'”
Politico also notes that Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy “and his allies insisted that opening a formal impeachment inquiry would empower them to dig deeper. Yet the emails are another example of the House GOP failing to turn up evidence they’ve assured the public exists and that will implicate Biden in some form of corruption that rises to an impeachable offense.”
Image via Shutterstock
‘Total Breakdown’: House Sends Members Home – Experts Warn ‘Republicans Can’t Govern’ And Have No ‘Working Majority’
Nine days before an increasingly-likely shutdown of the federal government of the United States, Speaker Kevin McCarthy has effectively adjourned the House for the rest of the week, with GOP leadership telling members they may go home and come back next week, after a procedural vote to fund the Dept. of Defense failed for the second time this week.
Fox News’ Chad Pergram reports, “Note that the House has not officially dismissed everyone.. but everyone expects they are done for the week. Why? They House lacks the VOTES TO ADJOURN.”
He later added that “Things are very fluid,” and “there could be votes TOMORROW or this weekend still in the house. This could be a problem if some members already got on flights.”
Fox News online is reporting, “House abruptly cancels votes for the week without spending deal after series of defeats for GOP leaders,” and notes members are not expected back until Tuesday.
McCarthy this week has repeatedly denigrated and attacked the extremist members of the House Republican conference on camera to reporters, and Thursday was no different, saying, “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) blasted House Republicans upon hearing the House was about to adjourn for the week.
“What you need to understand is that chaos is the point for a big chunk of House Republicans. They came to congress to BURN THE GOVERNMENT TO THE GROUND,” the Connecticut Democrat wrote. “Their goal is a shutdown.”
The sentiment is being echoed by political experts, but many of those are placing the blame on Speaker McCarthy.
Democratic strategist Sawyer Hackett, senior advisor to former Obama Cabinet secretary Julián Castro Thursday afternoon wrote: “Reminder: Kevin McCarthy could put a clean bill to fund the government on the floor right now and it would pass easily. Instead, he’s sending members home for the weekend with 9 days until a shutdown—all because he’s afraid he’ll lose his job.”
Evidence that the far-right extremist House Republicans, led by U.S. Reps. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) are effectively in control comes via Punchbowl News co-founder Jake Sherman:
At 1:13 PM ET Sherman posted that Rep. Gaetz had “just emerged from” Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s suite. “Gaetz said that he’s advocating for pausing consideration of the Pentagon spending bill and moving to bills that cut spending. He mentioned: State-Foreign Ops, Agriculture, Energy and Water.”
Sherman noted that Gaetz “said again there are not enough votes” for a continuing resolution, legislation to keep the government open temporarily, possibly 30 days past the September 30 deadline.
“Just to review, the plan right now is to begin passing 11 appropriations bills with relatively open rules allowing for amendments between next tues (possibly wed) and Sunday.”
At 2:40 PM, Sherman added, “This is now the strategy. They’re going to bring up individual approps [appropriations] bills next week, per lawmakers who just met with @SpeakerMcCarthy.”
Others were less pleased.
Veteran foreign policy journalist Laura Rozen wrote: “truly insane. Mccarthy surrendered to Gaetz.”
Even before McCarthy adjourned the House for the rest of the week, political experts had warned the volatile situation was worse than it may have appeared.
Sherman, late Thursday morning, issued this warning on social media after the failed Defense Dept. vote: “Just to put this in context, republicans cannot even agree to debate the pentagon spending bill. This bill usually passes by big margins. It failed twice this week. Kevin mccarthys House Republicans are in a state of crisis.”
Josh Chafetz, Georgetown Law professor of law and politics, responded to Thursday’s failed Defense Dept. procedural vote, writing: “if you can’t pass the procedural stuff you don’t have a working majority.”
Aaron Fritschner, the Deputy Chief of Staff to U.S. Rep. Don Beyer (D-VA) is calling the state of the GOP House a “total breakdown.”
“I started working in the House nearly 11 years ago, I’ve seen some crazy days and some chaotic votes but never seen anything like what is happening with this majority. Just a total breakdown,” he wrote Thursday morning.
Professor and American historian Aaron Astor on Thursday asked, “Does the GOP actually have a working majority in the House?”
Veteran journalist John Harwood quickly replied, “clearly not.”
‘Just Want to Burn the Whole Place Down’: McCarthy Rails Against House Republicans as GOP Conference Explodes in Chaos
Speaker Kevin McCarthy unleashed his anger against his own House Republican conference Thursday as chaos erupted after yet another procedural vote on a defense spending bill failed and the clock ticks closer to a GOP-caused shutdown of the federal government.
McCarthy “failed a crucial test Thursday of his ability to unite his fractured Republican caucus as he tries to rally support to pass a spending bill aimed at avoiding a government shutdown at the end of the month,” CNBC adds.
“It’s frustrating in the sense that I don’t understand why anybody votes against bringing the idea and having the debate, and then you got all the amendments and if you don’t like the bill,” McCarthy admitted to reporters in what has increasingly become opportunities for him to trash the most far-right Republicans in the House.
“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” he lamented. “It doesn’t work.”
“This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down.”
— After House Republicans once again failed to pass a basic procedural rule to fund the Pentagon, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) hits some members of his own conference pic.twitter.com/Qt4AR71jP3
— The Recount (@therecount) September 21, 2023
“This is really unheard of,” CNBC’s Emily Wilkins reported. “I mean just a rule going down as a procedural thing, that’s pretty rare as is, and for it to happen twice in one week. Last night Republicans came ut of their all hands on deck Republican meeting. A number of them sounded optimistic about moving forward.”
Thursday failed procedural vote “really did catch Speaker McCarthy by surprise,” Wilkins added.
“He said he did not realize there were not going to be the votes to move forward on this.”
The House failed to pass a procedural rules vote today, @emrwilkins
reports. “This is a whole new concept of individuals that just want to burn the whole place down,” House Speaker Kevin McCarthy said. “That doesn’t work.” https://t.co/1xf6Y33riV pic.twitter.com/kK31lrHOyr
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 21, 2023
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