White House Media Battles Are ‘Not All About Jim Acosta’
On 'The Laura Ingraham Show,' Major Garrett of CBS talked about the importance of getting key info to the public
Though CNN’s Brian Stelter and others are proudly crowing over the return of their embattled colleague’s press pass, their cries that hail reporter Jim Acosta (shown above left) and the press in general as victors may be premature, according to some analysts.
“Where do you go to get your reputation back?” asked host Laura Ingraham on “The Laura Ingraham Show” on Tuesday morning.
“It’s not all about Jim Acosta,” she added, calling the current press pass battle something of a “political football.”
“It’s about getting information to the public.”
Acosta’s loss — and then subsequent restoration — of his hard pass resulted in the White House’s laying out new “rules” for reporters on Monday.
The consequences for breaking those rules include ouster — which may now be a simpler matter, given that cries of a lack of “due process” will likely fail, as explained by the Washington Examiner’s Byron York.
Major Garrett, CBS News’ chief White House correspondent and author of “Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride: The Thrills, Chills, Screams, and Occasional Blackouts of an Extraordinary President,” was a guest on Tuesday’s “The Laura Ingraham Show.” And he agreed with Ingraham’s assertion that Trump is, by far, one of the most accessible presidents in modern history in terms of his interaction with and his availability to members of the media.
Garrett (above right) began covering presidents back in 2000, during the Clinton administration.
Since then, he has covered George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and now President Donald Trump.
“Clearly, we’re at this very odd point in the American media, where you have opinion shows like mine, and then you have the reporters who are supposed to be reporting … but instead … oftentimes we see more of a debating society at some of these press conferences,” said Ingraham.
“Interactions with the president are designed to accomplish one thing … and one thing only — to inform the public,” Garrett responded.
He emphasized that the quality of a White House reporter’s interactions should be judged by the extent to which the public learns something new about the president or his administration’s approach to, or thoughts about, an issue or a current story.
Garrett also noted that it is a privilege to be a White House correspondent.
Others, of course, have framed such access as a right, citing the violation of First Amendment protections when Jim Acosta’s rude and out-of-line behavior temporarily cost him his press pass from the White House.
Garrett described White House reporters’ number-one obligation as “asking the most powerful political figure in the country regular questions, tough questions, and teaching the public about what the president is going to do or is thinking about doing.”
The White House press corps appears to generally agree with Garrett’s contention on the role of the media.
Listen to the segment on “The Laura Ingraham Show”:
“You know what really gets answers? Shoe-leather reporting,” the White House Press Corps tweeted Tuesday morning from its account.
The corps’ tweet was in response to a comment by MSNBC reporter and host Kasie Hunt — who complained that the newly instituted rules are “restraining all Americans’ ability to get answers from their government.”
You know what actually gets answers? Shoe-leather reporting. https://t.co/KR0or7wjLF
— WhiteHousePressCorps (@whpresscorps) November 20, 2018
Ingraham and Garrett agreed that Trump does not mind answering tough questions.
In fact, Garrett said, “[President Trump] loves to interact with the press.”
“He is thoroughly accomplished at driving the message the way he wants to drive it.”
On complaints about the frequency of White House press secretary Sarah Sanders’ briefings, Garrett was unconcerned, saying he far prefers to interact with the president.
“It’s not propaganda,” said Garrett, defending media coverage of White House press briefings. “It’s interaction of the press corps and the White House.”
Garrett disagreed with veteran journalist and reporter Carl Bernstein, of Watergate fame, of course, who said Sunday that cable news ought not to air White House press briefings at all, calling them “propagandist exercises,” as The Hill reported.
“It’s not propaganda,” said Garrett, defending media coverage of White House press briefings.
“It’s interaction of the press corps and the White House.”
Check out this video:
Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.