Last week the media lost its mind over reports that press briefings might be moved from the White House back to the Eisenhower Office Building next door where President Eisenhower held the first ever televised press conference.
Media outlets issued panicked reports of being “evicted”, “kicked out” or “exiled” from the cramped theater that used to be the White House’s indoor swimming pool. There was outrage at the thought that they might have to take an equally short walk to the White House Conference Center where they had already worked while the Bush White House spent millions in taxpayer money renovating the room.
"The press went crazy, so I said, 'Let's not move it.'" President Trump finally reassured them.
He got as much gratitude for it as President Nixon did for ruining a perfectly good indoor pool and as President Bush did for spending a fortune renovating it. Instead the media began spreading the same conspiracy theories accusing Bush of plotting to permanently banish them from the White House.
And that’s exactly what President Trump should do.
“There’s no way the people are being served if they kick the people’s representatives out of the People’s House,” Ron Fournier absurdly postured.
The people elected President Donald J. Trump. Nobody elected Ron Fournier. The National Journal he works for, like most of the Atlantic media properties, specializes in inside baseball for insiders.
Trust ratings and approval levels for the media are so far down in the toilet that it would take a plumber to find them. If the media are the people’s representatives, then the people want to elect different ones. Those are some of the same representatives that the media is trying to ban from social media with a fake “Fake News Crusade” and by resisting any expansion of press briefings with threats and warnings.
“We’ll have to consider doing things other than protesting and whining,” Fournier threatened. “We’ll have to think about what we can do to bring some pain to make our point.”
Run items accusing President Trump of being a traitor, a liar, a racist, a rapist and a Batman villain? The media has already done all of those. What else is it going to except shout more lies even louder?
Within a brief span of time, the media’s fake news operation claimed that Trump had banished the bust of MLK, lifted quotes from a Batman villain and had been cavorting with Russian prostitutes.
And that he was a compulsive liar.
That last accusation is notably hilarious considering the honesty and integrity of the media.
We have had to endure days of the media screaming about crowd sizes at the inauguration and the anti-Trump march they were promoting, of claiming that a sentiment as generic as returning power to the people was lifted from a Batman villain, and of dismissing the worst abuses of their colleagues, whether it was lying about the MLK bust, lying about Rick Perry’s job or peddling the lies of the Steele dossier as intelligence work, as mistakes while shouting that Sean Spicer was a liar. Enough is enough.
Margaret Sullivan, the Washington Post’s media columnist and former public editor of the New York Times, declared, “President Trump intends to make the American media his foremost enemy.”
If she had a shred of honesty, she would admit that the media had made him its foremost enemy.
Press conferences used to be called in the Oval Office and reporters would hang out close to the action. Then, largely Republican presidents, helped make the media’s occupation permanent. And its sense of entitlement grew. It now believes that it has more of a right to be there than President Trump.
President Trump should disabuse them of that delusion.
When we talk about the media, we really mean the representatives of a handful of corporations who are in the business of advocating for the left and attacking the right. There is no journalism involved in all this: only opposition research. The distinction between the media and the political left no longer exists.
There is no reason to embed a voice of the political opposition in the White House whose only function is using the press briefings as platforms for their smears. Nor is there any reason to provide special status to a handful of corporate left-wing operatives while leaving out the rest of the spectrum.
Trump has been opening up more opportunities for conservative media. And that’s a good thing.
The media’s tantrums over being moved from the little theater, no matter how moldy and crumbling it might be, isn’t sentiment; it’s status. Keeping the space small allows them to limit who gets in.
It’s time to open it up.
After the tantrum the media threw over Spicer’s briefing, there is no reason to keep their private club around. Move it out of the White House and open it up to various journalists across the spectrum.
The media hates the idea of Trump tweeting. They ought to get used to it. Their old form of access journalism with its layers of privilege, anonymous sources and selective leaks is the old way. And it makes no sense to provide access journalism to a media whose only agenda is soliciting malicious leaks.
Digital access isn’t the future. It’s the present.
The White House press corps is an outmoded institution. There’s no need to crowd a small number of media elites into a limited space. Or any space at all. We live in a world of instantaneous communications. Every smartphone is capable of doing more than the laptops that reporters were laboring over in the Clinton years. Any of the men and women in that room can email or text their questions. The briefings serve no useful function except as political theater by a privileged class.
President Trump has vowed to drain the swamp. A good place to start is the smarmy swamp of privilege over the White House indoor pool. The small club of the press corps is the embodiment of the old establishment and its corrupt gatekeepers that he has vowed to get rid of. Instead of sparring with them in briefings, it’s time to eliminate their special status and strip them of their privileges.
Trump doesn’t have to go to war with the press corps. All he has to do is make it irrelevant.