Is this the really the new normal? President Trump speaks to a gathering of rabid supporters, proffers that the media “should not be allowed” to use unnamed sources. He then follows it up by banning prestigious news organizations from the gaggle (non-pressroom, non-televised White House briefing).
As expected, Trump threw some red meat to his followers at the Conservative Political Action Conference by immediately attacking media coverage he doesn’t like.
This may seem like it was just another Trump anti-media rant. But don’t be fooled. This was just the first step in an orchestrated attack today on the media.
Later in the day, the White House communication team held a gaggle which is sometimes covered by pool reporters, usually because of space limitations. But in Friday’s case, only a few organizations were excluded—CNN, New York Times, Los Angeles Times—as opposed to only a few being allowed in as the pool.
Let’s look back at what Sean Spicer said in December of 2016 before Spicer became presidential press secretary:
“We have a respect for the press when it comes to the government. That is something that you can’t ban an entity from, conservative, liberal or otherwise. That’s what makes a democracy a democracy, versus a dictatorship.”
That is apparently true until it isn’t. Make no mistake, the organizations that were banned are ones who have done reporting that the president hates. (The Times reported there were regular contacts between Trump people and the Russians during the campaign, CNN reported that the White House tried, unsuccessfully, to get the FBI to discredit the Times report.)
Trump, who now obviously thinks he is impervious to any consequences of attacking the Constitution, even mocked the First Amendment.
Connecticut US Rep. Jim Himes responded:
And for what’s it’s worth, the White House pushed back at the CNN story, citing its own timeline. And it did so asking that they not be named.