Politics

Vindictive Media Want Spicer Silenced

CNN panelist suggests outgoing press secretary should be blackballed by news organizations

For some members of the press corps, it’s not enough that White House press secretary Sean Spicer is leaving his job at the end of next month. They want him blackballed.

Spicer reportedly has spoken to various television news organizations about job possibilities. Los Angeles Times columnist Jackie Calmes noted Thursday on CNN that the cable network already has said it is not interested in hiring him. She said other networks should follow suit.

“Washington is the kind of place where we all criticize it for no matter what someone does, no matter how little credibility they have, they’re gonna find a big job; they’re gonna make even more money than they were,” she said. “And, you know, maybe it’s time for someone to be an example of the opposite.”

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Other members of the CNN panel, hosted by anchor John King, seemed to agree.

Abby Phillip, a national political reporter for The Washington Post, said Spicer got off on the wrong foot with journalists when he insisted that a record crowd watched Trump’s inauguration even though aerial photos suggested otherwise.

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“Had he not started out from that podium defending something that was, that everybody who has eyes can see was not true, we may not be in the position that we’re in right now,” she said. “But that’s where this all started. And the credibility problem is very real.”

Added King: “Those were his choices.”

It is no secret that Spicer had a contentious relationship with the national media. News conferences were often combative, and reporters delighted in fact-checking his pronouncements from the podium. He also angered the media when he started holding more off-camera gaggles instead of news conferences televised live.

Still, expressing a desire to damage Spicer’s career after government service represents a level of hostility rarely matched in Washington.

“He was the face of the first six months of the Trump administration other than the president himself,” said Rich Noyes, research director at the Media Research Center. “He seems to be held to a level of co-responsibility to the president.”

Noyes said past press secretaries have lied and equivocated for their bosses, particularly those who defended President Bill Clinton during his scandal-plagued tenure.

“The press always cut them some slack … They always treated them like defense attorneys who had to do their jobs,” he said.

Clinton himself faced impeachment charges that included perjury under oath yet emerged from office largely unscathed, Noyes said.

“He seems to have been fully rehabilitated in reporters’ eyes,” he said. “He is treated as statesman.”

Any job Spicer might get almost certainly would be as a pundit and commentator. While some journalists think he is too compromised to offer his opinions, few thought the same when Clinton-era White House communications director George Stephanopoulos got a much more substantial job in the media with ABC News in 2002.

“He was not seen as too partisan to be a news anchor,” he said.

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The Media Research Center, which monitors press bias, published a study Thursday suggesting that media obsession with the White House soap opera is crowding out other news. Trump’s tweets about Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his decision to bar transgender people from the military attracted a combined 16 minutes and 19 seconds on the ABC, NBC and CBS evening news broadcasts — roughly a third of the total.

Meanwhile, Foxconn’s $10 billion investment in Wisconsin drew 54 seconds, and the stock market’s record close received no coverage at all.

“That’s the kind of president that reporters say they want,” Noyes said.

(photo credit, homepage image: Reuters; photo credit, article image: Gage Skidmore)

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