Scoot: Trump’s “war on the media” ramps up – who’s right?

November 08, 2018 - 12:43 pm

Here is a quote relating to the war between the president and the press:

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle.”

President Trump didn’t say that – that was a comment from Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson clearly supported a free press and is even credited with saying that if given a choice between a government with no free press or free press with no government – he would choose the free press with no government. But Jefferson’s occasional criticism of the press proves that a contentious relationship between a president and a free press is nothing new.

During the Washington Post’s intense scrutiny of President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal, Nixon actually created an “enemies list” of reporters. Nixon was so concerned about negative media coverage that he created the White House Office of Communications and hired a person to strategically deal with media coverage of his administration. That person was Roger Ailes – who would go on to create the Fox News Channel. President Nixon was so upset with the Washington Post and its Watergate expose’ that he threatened to fire any staff member that allowed a Washington Post reporter in to cover any event at the White House.

President Bill Clinton bashed the media over the constant questions about his past business deals and alleged sexual encounters.

President Barak Obama called out the Fox News Channel for its point of view that Obama said was “ultimately destructive” to America.

Since he first descended down the escalator of Trump Tower to officially announce he was running for president, Donald Trump has been at war with the media and that war ramped up yesterday during a press conference in which President Trump appeared to become extremely frustrated with questions from some reporters, especially CNN’s Jim Acosta.

President Trump and Jim Acosta have a history of terse verbal exchanges; and when Acosta asked Trump about referring to the caravan of migrants moving toward America as an “invasion,” the President quickly grew frustrated and did not appear to be willing to even answer the question. That motivated Acosta to press on with the question, which led to President Trump denouncing him as a terrible person. When a White House intern attempted the grab the mic from Acosta, he leaned away and kept the mic.  In the process, his arm brushed against her arm as it reached to retrieve the mic.

Later that afternoon, Acosta tweeted out that the WH had suspended his press credentials for what Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said was “placing his hands on a young woman” and called that “absolutely unacceptable.”

The brushing contact of Acosta’s arm with the arm of the intern hardly qualifies as “placing his hands on a young woman,” but that was the spin the WH put on the suspension.

CNN’s Jim Acosta and other reporters can be obnoxious and will continue to ask questions President Trump will not answer, so the frustration of the President is understandable. But since the President and Acosta have an established history of verbal confrontations, why did Trump even select Acosta to ask a question? One idea is that President Trump was looking for a confrontation to give him the opportunity to bash Acosta. Trump was also very critical of other reporters asking questions and one theory is that the President was showing his frustration over the setback of Republicans losing control of the House.

It is curious that the President did call on a reporter that he has had many battles with, so was this a premeditated move to allow Trump to rile up his supporters by bashing the media?

It is true that many reporters can be disrespectful and frustration with those reporters is understandable; but it is obvious that President Trump, like many of his predecessors, doesn’t like to be challenged with certain sensitive questions from the press corps. However, presidents should be required to answer tough questions when they hold a press conference and call on specific reporters to answer questions.

It is a reporter’s job to push subjects to answer their questions; but if a president is not going to answer a question, then perhaps that is what becomes the story over continuing to demand the question be answered.

No doubt President Trump was extremely frustrated with answering questions yesterday; but if the President holds a press conference, who should determine what tough questions should be asked and which ones are crossing  the line.  President Trump’s war on the media is an important part of his strategy to appeal to his base.

Jim Acosta’s job is to ask and get answers to tough questions. Any president’s job should include answering tough questions, or don’t hold press conferences.

It appears that President Trump had a plan to use the press conference as a platform to advance his popular war on the media.

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