Way back in 2009, I wrote a rant entitled A Fox In The White House, which you can read if you click the link. It covered the, then, Obama administration attempting to shut Fox News out of a series of important press interviews. It didn't happen, thanks to the massive push back by other press outlets as well as the public when they caught wind of it.
Sadly, here we go again. Last week, the Trump White House got embroiled in a similar story. White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer held a Press Gaggle in his office, which is an off-camera, way more casual, sit-down than a press conference. At a gaggle, those media outlets attending are more likely to be hand chosen. And it's likely that not everyone who thinks they should be invited will be there. There was no daily press conference held in the Press Room where any with credentials can be included.
Those outlets who weren't included were all supplied with a transcript of what was discussed post gaggle, but that's not really the point. The point is that we should be looking at who was left out. They are some pretty big hitters in the media world:
The New York Times reporter was not asked to attend the Gaggle. Wait! A major newspaper not invited?!
And, CNN reporters were not included in the gaggle....
...neither was the LA Times included. There were others like the BBC, but let's just concentrate on these three for now.
Hmm, what's the one thing that these three have in common? They are all pretty liberal in their coverage. And currently, President Trump and his administration are in a battle over their coverage of the White House. When I say battle, I do mean battle. I've seen contentious relationships between the press and other administrations, but this one takes it to a whole new level. To be honest, this one being waged by the White House is totally exhausting.
This battle makes the hideous tone of the Press and Nixon White House look like a pre-school tussle over a toy! When challenged, Spicer, later reported that those who were 'excluded' simply were not part of that day's Press Pool, which changes daily and is decided by The White House Correspondences' Association, not the White House. But still it looks a tad suspicious.
The rest of the Media quickly rallied around those who were left out as they did when Fox was targeted. A petition was circulated. Twitter blew up with the 411. The excluded were defended by the rest of the press. Once again, the press became the news.
Why should you care? Because the only way for us to continue as a free society is by making certain that all outlets, all angles, of the news are part of the process. Spicer selecting some attendees isn't all that unusual. I admit that as a PR person, I had a list of a few reporters who were fair and easy to work with, whom I would call to pitch a story; that's to be expected. Everyone who works regularly with the Media knows who you can trust and are easy to work with given a choice. But, if what was happening at my organization was breaking news, all outlets were included in the coverage of that news. Even those not generally positively disposed toward us had access.
No White House administration should ever determine news coverage! In a free society, you get to decide what news you will ingest! Those creating the news might think they should decide who will cover it, but the reality is, YOU decide.
And while I really wish you would listen to news sources that are counter to your thinking so you have both sides to consider, at the very least...
...You must have, at your disposal, all versions in order to be free and informed.
Once again, our great system of checks and balances that includes the Fourth Estate, our Media, are actively participating in our civic debate. You need to as well.
Shame on you, White House, for attempting to have the news covered your way! Even if it's true about the daily Press Pool and you didn't select which sources could attend, the optics are bad for you.
These days, the political leaning of most media outlets is way too obvious for my taste. I believe that reporters and editors need to do a better job of reporting the news instead of being the news. However, liberal leaning or way out on the far right, we're still better off having various news sources from which to pick.
Dear Media with hurt feelings-- let me counsel that if you did your job correctly and simply reported the facts instead of consistently slanting them, you'd be less likely to be left out in the cold. Just report the news, do not think for me! Give me solid info so I can think for mySelf.
In a way, I'm glad this happened again. It's a reminder to stay vigilant and OPEN to the other voice. And maybe, just maybe, the owners, editors, journalists will start doing a better job of REPORTING and not COLORING the news.
Namaste' Till Next Time,
Holly aka She Who Listens To Both Sides