Edition: 062617 – Words: 1807 – Audio: N/A
We all know Right-Wing Conservatives (is there even a left-wing?) guard with their lives the Second Amendment more than any other amendment. But for the rest of us who don’t have itchy trigger fingers there is the lowly First Amendment.. freedom of speech and the press. Being a news junkie and a firm believer that the mainstream press is as close as we can get to balanced reporting (you have to use some critical thinking to get the rest of the way there because even the MSM can get carried away… in other words, you need to fill in the logical gaps yourself) , I’ve been watching the growing confrontation between the MSM and the Administration at the press conferences lately.
For those of you just tuning in to this “new” Trump thing… over the months Trump and his ilk have been moaning about the mainstream press never reporting the good things the Administration is doing each and every day to make America great again. Rather, the liberal-controlled (who is actually the head liberal that does all the controlling?) mainstream press (CNN, ABC, CBS, NBC, Washington Post, etc…) is in some grand conspiracy to only report the negatives about the Trump administration. Trump and his people much prefer Fox, MSNBC, and the other Conservative networks and press because they constantly praise the Trumpian advances in making America great again… while pointing the finger that all the ills that have befallen this country (apparently they made a list.. and I guess I am supposed to be suffering) have been caused by Obama, the Clintons, and all the liberals since the Founding Fathers.
So, given the White House press conferences have been nothing but the MSM networks and print reporters asking questions that poor Spicer can’t answer or prefers to sidestep, and that poor Spicer has been made a laughing stock on SNL, and after reaching the conclusion that the MSM reporters are just grand standing for the cameras, cameras and video, and up until today, live audio as well, has been prohibited in the press conferences.
Leading up to these recent prohibitions, Press Secretary Spicer began shunning the MSM reporters during the Q&A exchanges; certain network media was not called on to ask questions. In fact, I learned today that there is a front row network reporter that has not been called on since April. Of course, Fox and other conservative media reporters have often been called. As of the recent camera & audio prohibitions the shunning of that nasty MSM has still continued (yeah, punish those bastards!).
CNN is my preferred news, although I do flip to the other networks,, NBC, CBS, ABC on occasion. CNN’s chief White House correspondent is Jim Acosta. He has really gotten personally incensed over the Administration’s apparent stance on trying to control the press by only favoring the reporters from favorable mediums to the Administration. While many other shunned reporters share Acosta’s feelings, apparently few have been so incensed, at least in public. CNN has given Acosta camera time to vent.. or rather, report… and he has indeed kept his reporting professional. But his vehement discontent over this bit of Trump shenanigans (there has been so many…) is very obvious; presenting the lack of freedom of the press and transparency.
Today’s press conference included audio.. but again no cameras. As the questions got underway Spicer gave pretty much his typical non-answers as answers to most questions.
Here is the entire Q&A…
Part of the way through the session Acosta asked Spicer why the cameras were not allowed on. He even asked Spicer if he could turn on the cameras. Spicer ignored him… and Acosta kept it up a few more times. Spicer still ignored him.. calling on others. After a time, Acosta again repeated his barrage until another reporter also chimed in… asking Spicer to put this to rest and move on. Spicer then answered saying that it was their prerogative to set the press room parameters and that the President himself indicated as much in some obscure comments a while back.
CNN let Acosta have a little more air time with his reporting of the latest press conferences or news gaggles over the last couple weeks. He’s used the extra minute or so to include his feelings about the President trying to control the press, the President ignoring freedom of the press and transparency, the idea that the President is trying to put a lid on “bad” news reporting, and that this behavior by a president is.. unprecedented… and in effect defrauding the American people from getting information by attempting to limit freedom of the press.
While each of the CNN network anchors included Acosta’s reporting and opinion on their shows in the last couple weeks, they seemed to echo the “good” CNN family reply in editorial agreement with Acosta.… but there was a noticeable lack of… empathetic enthusiasm. On Don Lemon’s show this evening, after listening to Acosta’s report of today’s conference, at least Lemon asked him the same questions I was thinking… “Why didn’t you just turn on the cameras anyway? What would they have done?”; “Why aren’t more of the other reporters chiming in during these sessions with you about ‘no cameras’?” While Acosta could not answer too easily the question about support from other reporters… he agreed in substance the concept of all the reporters just turning on their cameras together in a unified show of defiance. But Acosta said that there is a parent press organization that has been working behind the scenes with the President to reduce the restrictions. Bottom line… the best might be yet to come in a future press conference.
Because I watch CNN a lot I have been following this over the weeks, Acosta’s reporting, etc. It’s been rather interesting watching this unfold. Now, it would be very easy for someone with my open dissent against Trump to just jump on Acosta’s bandwagon and cry it as yet another piece of Trump idiocy and his inability to take criticism… and attempting to strike down our First Amendment rights. But there’s a couple sides to this, based on my observation.
- Regarding Acosta’s passion for freedom of the press at press conferences… I have to think that some upper-echelon boss over Acosta at CNN is watching him… cautiously. Maybe there is this looming idea that’s it’s never really good when the press themselves become the news story. The reason the other reporters might be appearing tepid in their open support with Acosta is for just that reason, along with the idea that whatever Trump does, for now they are still in the room, in a chair.. and able to ask the questions… in spite of not typically getting any answers from Spicer, or anyone else in the Administration. I am sure in spirit all the reporters in that room agree with Acosta… but openly they are thinking it could be much worse. Some boss at CNN is going to tell him to cool it down a notch or two. We may never know… unless he cools his reporting of future conferences. If he does go maverick and flips on the cameras, I think he’s done being a White House correspondent.. either by Spicer pulling his credentials or a CNN boss reassigning him. But I do not sense there will be any ground swell of public.. or even professional, support for his demonstrative and defiant efforts.
- Somewhere in my vast personal archives I have a video recording of one of Kennedy’s first press conferences. He started these things, hence, he had to give some permission to the press regarding operating parameters and whether video cameras would be permitted. In spite of the press conferences being a tradition and the White House press corps has established their own pecking order and professional routines for coverage over the decades since Kennedy, it still seems to me that the President, or his Press Secretary, can call the shots at these affairs… even to the point of discriminating who’s questions they will take. There is nothing in anyone’s rule book that stipulates press conferences being mandatory. Now, quite obviously, when a candidate runs for office they will proudly proclaim an open and transparent administration and the first display of that is continuing the open press conferences… and a press corps to follow the president around the world. Now, the Press Secretary can indeed pull a reporter’s press pass. But in this case, Trump.. or Spicer.. or someone else (likely, because Trump or Spicer couldn’t think this through) is being careful not to cause a stir by removing the press credentials of the “bad” press. Better to keep them around to quell any possible public outcry.. and just ignore them. If anyone attempts to flip on the cameras… the Administration doesn’t look so bad pulling the press pass on some “unruly” reporter.
- The public doesn’t seem to give a damn about any of this, hence… no public support. Besides, there’s way too much else going on in Trump World getting public attention. Information and conflict overload. I don’t one bit attribute this to Trump’s.. um, genius? He’s a buffoon. Situation just got this bad is all… and is out of control.
- What about the apparent loss of a free press at the White House? Think of a time before Kennedy… when reporters broadcasted their stories, published their stories, all without a session in the White House. If the press wants to battle the integrity and non-transparency of the White House they should do it the one way they know how… report what they can, using any sources they can. But continue to strive for accuracy. As for Acosta… he has to move to the beat of his own drummer, like we all do. You never know.. he might come out on top. But unlike Trump… you have to take responsibility for your own actions, good or bad.
In the meantime, Trump is playing with the press, and by doing so is attempting to sway what is being reported to the American people. Whether the press is good or bad is NOT for him to say, as president. It’s up to the public to measure the value of a free press. It’s also not up to any president to try and control press access and questions like some control freak ignoramus (I was careful not to say “fascist” because Trump doesn’t know what that means). The scary part is that he has some butthead supporters who likely are thrilled that he is doing this to the “damned liberal mainstream press”; the hell with freedom of the press, anyway. “But you messin’ wit our Second Amendment.. just watch out! We gots the NRA!”
Yet another reason to send him packing.