« THE LAWBIZ COUNTRY CLUB | Main | ATTACK OF THE WIRMS »

WHIP THE PRESS

ROM NORTH AMERICA SYNDICATE, 300 W 57th STREET, 41st FLOOR, NEW YORK, NY 10019
CUSTOMER SERVICE: (800) 708-7311 EXT. 236
BOB FRANKEN
FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, JULY 20, 2018

WHIP THE PRESS
---
Did you notice something different after President Donald Trump so fouled himself -- and certainly, the United States -- when he appeared alongside Vladimir Putin? The reaction to his humiliating performance was so intense that Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who always immediately does contortions to defend her boss, had nothing to say for quite a while. This time, it was that egregious. Either that or she was weary of deflecting all the criticism of Trump doing Putin’s work, trashing all our allies in Europe.
To be fair, however, this is not the first White House to dive into the dirty pool of protecting POTUS from the press; they all do it. Every presidency I’ve ever reported on tries to intimidate those who cover it. When I was doing wall-to-wall live shots for CNN on the bizarre Senate hearings of then-Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas, it was of intense interest to the Bush White House (I privately called them all “Bush Leaguers”). When I said something on air that the top-level administration figures didn’t like, even though it was accurate, they’d try to frighten my bosses and attempt to browbeat them into ordering a softer tone from me. It was plain-old harassment.
Same with the Clintonistas. I was the “outside the gate” correspondent, covering all the Clinton scandals, not a part of our day-to-day White House group. However, when I did a report they didn’t like, the president’s press enforcers would complain to our White House crew, who would call the bureau chief in a tizzy, and he would nervously contact me to get my take. It happened so often that when we’d complete our conversation he’d say, “In other words, I can tell them you had a two-word response.”


ADVERTISEMENT

What do all these White House bullies have in common? They know that the networks all need access to administration luminaries and spokesmen and -women, particularly for the many talk shows. The implicit threat is that if you cross them, they’ll withhold their major domos. It stinks, but the potential freeze-out of those who displease them is part of our normal collisions between media and those temporarily in power. But, as with everything else, President Trump’s crew has dragged things to the next level ... down. “Implicit” has become “explicit.”
The Trumpster was holding a news conference along with British Prime Minister Theresa May. By now, his stated contempt for CNN is the stuff of legend. The network’s Jim Acosta is a favorite POTUS whipping boy. Acosta whips right back with his tough questions. This time, when he tried to ask something, the president cut him off: “I don’t take questions from CNN. CNN is fake news. ... Let’s go to a real network,” meaning Fox, of course. As Trump was departing, Jim shouted a question at him. All normal stuff.
What’s not normal is what happened next. The president’s national security adviser, John Bolton, had been booked to appear on CNN’s Sunday talk show “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper. Sure enough, on Saturday, Tapper tweeted that Bolton had canceled, and before long, press secretary Sanders confirmed via Twitter that it was because of Acosta: “Actually a @CNN reporter disrespected @POTUS & PM May during their press conf. Instead of rewarding bad behavior, we decided to reprioritize the TV appearances for administration officials.”
Let’s get this straight: If someone “disrespects” the president by acting as a journalist and asking tough questions, he will be punished. Not only is that un-American, but apparently, with this gang, it’s PROUDLY un-American. Now it has reached the point that they don’t even pretend. Of course, their leader is someone who scornfully dismisses accurate stories as “fake news,” and calls the media “enemies of the people.” He probably doesn’t care that Josef Stalin used to say that. We can’t really know if Stalin’s successor Vladimir Putin shared some of his bloody tactics used against troublesome reporters. But Trump’s heart is clearly in the same place.

© 2018 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

About

This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on July 22, 2018 7:06 AM.

The previous post in this blog was THE LAWBIZ COUNTRY CLUB.

The next post in this blog is ATTACK OF THE WIRMS.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Subscribe



Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz