Media Freakout Over Pecking Order Rages On
Press corps throws tantrum after big dog outlets snubbed at Trump-Netanyahu briefing
President Donald Trump hosted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House Wednesday, but to many in the press corps the big story was how the predominantly liberal mainstream media felt they were treated.
Yes — despite the fact that Trump and Netanyahu discussed West Bank settlements and moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem — the real story is how the top dogs of the White House press corps were not asked the two questions that Trump gave to American reporters.
The traditional legacy media were already suffering because of the internet. Trump threatens to be a new wave of change.
Trump, for the third time since he has been taking questions at joint press conferences with foreign leaders, extended the opportunity to ask questions to reporters from right-leaning outlets.
At stake are high-profile questions to be asked of the president, and his guest, at joint press conferences that are broadcast internationally. The mainstream media has enjoyed pushing lesser outlets to the back of the East Room. Those days appear to be over, as Trump spreads his disruptive political instincts to the Fourth Estate.
In fact, the media was insulted a bit more than reported on Wednesday, as Breitbart News, one of the largest conservative news websites in the United States, was allowed a seat in the East Room near the front, next to the Associated Press. The White House Correspondents’ Association assigns the 49 seats in the White House Briefing Room — for now — but the president can arrange seating in any manner he likes during East Room events.
The joint press conference is a grand affair in the White House, not the West Wing. There have actually been four joint press conferences with foreign leaders since Trump took office. The first was with British Prime Minister Theresa May, then Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, then Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
On Wednesday, Trump held a joint press conference with Netanyahu.
At the press conferences, Trump has taken two questions from the “American side,” from Reuters, Fox News, the New York Post, Fox Business, Sinclair Broadcasting Group, the Daily Caller, the Christian Broadcasting Network, and Townhall.
Only Reuters is not considered to be right-of-center.
“[Liberal journalists] don’t believe competition should exist, especially from the Right,” said Dan Gainor, vice president for Business and Culture for the Media Research Center. “Coupled with the news media’s anti-Trump crusade, it shows a level of disconnect from reality that’s amazing even for privileged D.C. reporters.”
After the press conference ended, with only CBN and Townhall being called on, the latest media meltdown commenced.
CNN’s White House reporter Jim Acosta yelled out questions as Trump was leaving the room. He then seemed to accuse the White House of arranging the questions with conservative reporters.
“The fix is in,” said Acosta.
Acosta's shouting led one reporter to comment that the practice is generally frowned upon after such formal events. On June 15, 2012, when a Daily Caller reporter shouted a question at President Obama before his statement ended, the media descended upon him, with Politico calling the incident "a surprising breach of etiquette."
But today, shouting questions at Trump and his spokesman Sean Spicer is a celebrated tactic.
On Twitter, Acosta later lamented: "I tried."
Exaggerating is also a new media tactic. ABC News' analyst Matthew Dowd, never one to miss a chance to stretch reality, said Trump was "shutting down part of the First Amendment."
The media hissy fit actually began on Monday, when two reporters were chosen by Trump to ask questions at Trump's joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Trump chose a reporter, Scott Thuman, from the Sinclair Broadcast Group. And Trump then called on a reporter, Kaitlan Collins, from the Daily Caller. After both failed to ask the "correct" question (about national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned later that night), reporters pounced on Thuman and Collins.
Julie Pace of the Associated Press interrogated Collins immediately, asking if Collins was told to avoid the topic of Flynn, according to Politico. (Collins said she was not.) CNN's Dylan Byers even pried a statement from Thuman's boss that Thuman was still in good standing. (A LifeZette reporter witnessed Thuman preparing his question, by himself, in the briefing room's concession area.)
On Wednesday, this time the freakout was more widespread. Reporters from many major outlets took note of the trend, which threatens their status (and lofty perches) in the White House Briefing Room. The traditional legacy media of major broadcast agencies, major cable channels, and large newspapers and wire services, was already suffering because of the internet. Trump threatens to be a new wave of change.
But, despite John King's prediction, it's unclear what would be accomplished by asking about The New York Times' story, on Wednesday, that Trump's "associates" were speaking to Russians throughout 2016.
The narrative is dubious. The charges of Russian influence are rehashed, and even The Times admitted their anonymous sources didn't see a legal violation.
After the press conference on Wednesday, NBC News reporter Tom Winter tweeted: "NBC's Pete Williams reports (as we have all along) that investigators have found no collusion between Trump campaign and contacts in Russia."
Yet the mainstream media still wants to ask the president about it, at every turn.