Beleaguered White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer conducted a press briefing today the media finds reminiscent of his first appearance behind the podium on January 21, albeit better attired. It was a short, terse, and quickly-ended affair that left most of the reporters in the room feeling rather smugly triumphant at having driven Spicer from the room.
And with that, Spicer out. Very short press briefing. I believe some in the room booed as he walked out.
— Oren Kessler (@OrenKessler) May 30, 2017
They are pushing their perceived advantage too far.
“What I’m telling you is, is that the reason the president is frustrated is because there’s a perpetuation of false narratives, a use of unnamed sources over and over again about things that are happening that ultimately don’t happen, and I think that is troubling,” he added moments later. “Thank you guys very much. I appreciate it.”
With that, a visibly frustrated Spicer ended his first briefing in more than two weeks after just 30 minutes, cutting the session shorter than usual.
The anti-Trump press feels that they have the advantage. They feel that the momentum and the rhythm of news has changed, and that they are dropping 5:30 p.m. Friday bombshells now, not President Trump.
Instead of focusing on Trump’s first foreign trip and list of notable firsts, that Spicer covered in his comments (which the Washington Post mocked), when questions opened, they pounced right on the Kushner story that WaPo broke Friday.
Phil Rucker asked if Trump knew that Kushner was trying to set up a secret communication channel with Russia in December.
“You’re asking if he approves of an action that is not a confirmed action,” Spicer replied.
WaPo reacted with incredulousness.
The Post reported Kushner’s effort on Friday, and the White House did not deny the report or even cast doubt on it. In fact, surrogates including national security adviser H.R. McMaster, Homeland Security Secretary John F. Kelly and counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway seemed to validate the report by insisting publicly over the next few days that back channels are common, appropriate and good.
How many times has the establishment media, relying on unnamed sources “close to the White House,” or “familiar with the investigation” (any number of euphemisms for “anonymous” fit here) had to modify or retract its version of events? How many “bombshells” have turned out to be duds?
But they now assume that because the White House and the president has not responded to their report, or directly denied it, that it must be true.
Now Spicer is suggesting that the report might be inaccurate?
No. Spicer is suggesting that the media has in the past, and continues to do so, reported inaccurate, misleading, and even pernicious and damaging reports based on anonymous sources. An “unconfirmed action” means that the press is obligated to prove its claims before they go and ask for a reaction as if it’s fact.
Then WaPo had the gall to attack the Fox News report contradicting its version–claiming it wasn’t Kushner, but the Russians who suggested the use of a secure line for a back channel–because the Fox report “carried no byline” and “was based on a single, unnamed source.” Pots and kettles are laughing all the way to Tipperary on that howler.
“Can you give us an example of fake news, Sean?” asked CNN’s Jim Acosta. They were just goading him at that point. Spicer cited the example of Trump’s hidden earpiece being misreported as rudeness at the G-7. He didn’t have other examples.
(Note to Spicer: Carry a deck of index cards in your pocket with instances of inaccurate or totally fake media reporting. When asked to cite examples, pull it out, fan it dramatically, hold one to your head like Carnac the Magnificent, and then read it. They’ll never ask again.)
The media needs to be careful and look outside their bubble before they go “full frontal” attack on Trump. They need to realize how distrusted they really are in America where most liberals believe Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Trevor Noah, Samantha Bee and Bill Maher before they fully trust CNN, MSNBC, or the Washington Post. They also need to realize that those same media sources are completely mistrusted by most Trump fans, who would rely on Alex Jones or Breitbart before Fox News.
Trump’s enemy is, and has always been, the main stream media. He will not quit or acquiesce in any way, and each attack they make will bring a more powerful counterattack. The media thinks it has Trump on the ropes with all these “bombshells.” My money is on Trump to beat them at their own game every time.