February 17th, 2017

Who is Chris Cillizza fooling?

[NOTE: I wrote the draft of this post before yesterday’s press conference, in which Trump certainly did call on hostile press representatives from liberal news outlets. So Cillizza’s very specific complaint (that Trump only called on friendly sources) no longer applies. But the more general points made in this piece still do, so I’m posting it anyway.]

Chris Cillizza thinks we should be scared, very scared.

Cillizza notes that President Trump has had 3 press conferences with foreign leaders so far, and that the format these usually follow is that a president takes two questions from the domestic press and one from the foreign press. He says that Trump has taken questions from the following outlets: NY Post, Fox, ABC 7 (Sinclair), Daily Caller, Christian Broadcasting Network, and Townhall. He then adds: “All six of those outlets are conservative or conservative leaning.” He also says that both Obama and Bush were different from Trump; Obama called on USA Today, WSJ, AP, Reuters, and Bloomberg, and Bush called on AP, Reuters, NBC, Fox, AP, Reuters, CNN, NBC, and Fox.

Cillizza’s reaction:

…there is a difference in taking questions from outlets with a partisan lean and taking them from mainstream media outlets who are absolutely committed to playing it straight. If Obama had only taken questions from the Huffington Post, Daily Kos and Rachel Maddow, conservatives would be up in arms. And rightly so!

There is much to mull over in those two sentences. The first is Cillizza’s astounding assumption that—as opposed to Fox, the NY Post, etc.—news operations such as AP, NBC, AP, Reuters, and CNN “are absolutely committed to playing it straight.” He is supposed to be a person who keeps up with things, and as a journalist he cannot fail to have noted that polls indicate that the vast majority of people distrust the MSM and think it is biased.

Maybe, though, Cillizza thinks all those people believe it’s biased towards conservatives, and that it’s Fox they think is the one not “absolutely committed to playing it straight,” unlike all those others. Well, um, not really (results from a poll taken shortly after the 2016 election):

7 in 10 (69%) voters do not believe the news media are honest and truthful.
8 in 10 (78%) of voters believe the news coverage of the presidential campaign was biased, with nearly a 3-to-1 majority believing the media were for Clinton (59%) vs. for Trump (21%).
Even 1/3 (32%) of Clinton voters believe the media were “pro-Clinton.”

So the vast majority of people believe that the MSM is biased against Trump and against the right. They don’t seem to believe in that “absolute commitment” that Cillizza claims. In fact, many people would find Cillizza’s statement mildly amusing in a sadly ironic sort of way.

Cillizza goes on:

That’s a very dangerous precedent — and should worry you whether you voted for Trump, voted for Hillary Clinton or didn’t vote at all in the 2016 election. Why? Because the partisan press is not the same thing as the free and independent press. (That’s true of outlets on the right and the left.) The partisan press is playing to an audience who shares a certain viewpoint. The independent media is trying to hold power to account. That’s not the same mission even though those things do, sometimes, run in the same direction.

Hate Trump or love him, the idea that he is purposely freezing out mainstream media reporters because he doesn’t like the sort of questions they ask is chilling. Down that path lies nothing good for journalism — or democracy.

Ah Chris, Chris: welcome to 2017. We agree that “the partisan press is not the same thing as the free and independent press.” We just disagree that there is much of a free and independent press left.

By the way (this is just an aside, Chris) the independent media’s task is not to “hold power to account.” That’s a leftist meme; you might want to rethink that if you want us to believe you are impartial (not to mention how little “holding to account” the MSM did when Barack Obama was in power). The goal of an independent press should be to report the truth, find the truth, ferret out the truth, wherever it may lie.

Let me add, Chris, that we already went “down that path” long ago. You just didn’t notice it (or want to acknowledge it) because you weren’t the one being frozen out. That high and mighty “free and independent” rag you write for, the WaPo, isn’t thought of that way by most of America. But you want us to believe what you say rather than our lying eyes.

Perhaps you also forget when Obama excoriated Fox News in a rather Trumpian way. Let’s refresh your memory:

After months of taking incoming fire from the prime-time stars of Fox News, the Obama White House is firing back, charging that FOX News is different from all other news.

“FOX News often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican party,” said Anita Dunn, White House communications director.

“If media is operating basically as a talk radio format, then that’s one thing, and if it’s operating as a news outlet, then that’s another,” Mr. Obama said.

And the White House has gone beyond words, reports CBS News senior political correspondent Jeff Greenfield. Last Sept. 20, the president went on every Sunday news show – except Chris Wallace’s show on FOX. And on Thursday, the Treasury Department tried to exclude FOX News from pool coverage of interviews with a key official. It backed down after strong protests from the press.

“All the networks said, that’s it, you’ve crossed the line,” said CBS News White House correspondent Chip Reid.

Tension between presidents and the press is as old as the Republic. FDR was so incensed by the war reporting of one New York Daily News correspondent he tried to present him with an Iron Cross from Nazi Germany. John Kennedy tried to get New York Timesman David Halberstam pulled out of Vietnam; and Vice-President Spiro Agnew’s assaults on the network press is legendary.

“We have more than our share of nattering nabobs of negativism,” Agnew said.

What gives this dust-up special irony is that FOX News success comes in no small part from its ability to convince its viewers that the “mainstream” media are slanted to the left. Now, the White House is arguing that the network is not a real news organization at all, and that has brought some mainstream media voices to its defense..

…Such as, for example, CBS (the source of that story). That’s how bad what Obama did was. And note all the other precedents for what you call “a very dangerous precedent” set by Trump.

Ah, but surely Cillizza wasn’t around when Obama’s Communications Director Anita Dunn called said Fox News would be treated as “an opponent” at “war” with the White House, and was not acting like a “legitimate news organization.” This set what would seem to be a bad precedent (unless a person thinks Fox is fair game because it’s not the independent and impartial source that the WaPo is). Well, it turns out the Cillizza was around; here’s what he had to say when Anita Dunn left her administration post and her deputy Dan Pfeiffer came in to replace her:

On Oct. 11, speaking on CNN, Dunn attacked Fox News as “a wing of the Republican Party.” Her comments sparked a fresh battle between the White House and the network. In response to the criticism, Fox News executive Michael Clemente said in a statement that Obama’s aides had decided to “declare war on a news organization.”

A source in the White House, who was not authorized to speak about strategy meetings, said at the time the Dunn went out front against Fox first and foremost because it was her job, but also because it potentially gave the administration the opportunity to distance itself from the flap with the Roger Ailes-led news channel once she leaves the communications job.

Pretty mild.

Translated: she was about to leave anyway, so she became the attack dog for Obama on Fox so that he could maintain plausible deniability once she left.

But my original question was: who does Cillizza think he’s fooling? My answer (and I bet many of you will disagree) is that I don’t think he thinks he’s fooling anyone. I think he believes what he’s saying. Fish don’t realize they’re swimming in water, and Cillizza (and much of the rest of the MSM) doesn’t see his own biases. After all, they are surrounded by people who agree.

53 Responses to “Who is Chris Cillizza fooling?”

  1. Griffin Says:

    The other thing about the Cillizza article is that he doesn’t even mention what the questions asked were. I’ve seen them elsewhere and they weren’t fawning in any way. There was no questions about the most enchanting thing that has happened as the NY Times guy (now at CNN) asked Obama.

    This is really just scoreboard stuff and takes no interest in the substance of the questions.

  2. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    many people would find Cillizza’s statement mildly amusing” neo

    I find Cillizza’s statement seditious.

    ” I think he believes what he’s saying.”

    That may be so though I’m highly doubtful. But if he believes it, he’s just another liberal useful idiot. Many German soldiers were not Nazis but fought with all they had to support Hitler. Willful blindness, which is the kindest label that can be attached to such as Cillizza does not obviate culpability. Especially, members of the media covering politics and current events.

  3. Lizzy Says:

    Cilizza works for the paper that had 30+ front page stories on a VA Senate candidate saying “Macaca” under his breath.

    He has no moral high ground, no valid claims to “playing it straight.”

  4. David Swadell Says:

    Seeing CNN’s Jim Acosta at yesterday’s press conference blame Trump for the public’s growing mistrust of the press was both hilarious and infuriating. Had I been sitting beside him I might have slapped him — as if that could possibly have helped him to “snap out of it!” How is it possible for people smart enough to speak in complete sentences to be so unfathomably stupid?!

    The thing we must recognize is that these people are not just stupid and corrupt, but absolutely insane. They really believe in their own righteousness. It’s as if they’ve sold their souls to the Devil and the bargain included the loss of their capacity for reason.

  5. Frog Says:

    One of your best essays ever, Neo.

  6. Big Maq Says:

    Should we be “scared, very scared”, I don’t think so.

    However, I do think we ought to be concerned and skeptical.

    We ought to hold this WH accountable every inch as much as we’d hold a dem POTUS.

    We are letting far too much slide, as a knee jerk reaction to the hysterics on the left.

    Gotta say, it would be a LOT more comfortable to slide into the blue vs red team mode of yesteryear.

    But, the more we let trump have a bye, or find acceptable, some of his more extreme stands / behavior, we are letting a permission structure creep up on us to the point we may one day be asking, “What happened? How can this happen?”

    Доверяй, но проверяй, теперь более чем когда-либо

  7. Montage Says:

    The issue however with Trump is as Callum Borchers writes in that ‘rag’ the WaPo:

    “If the president’s supporters don’t read a report he criticizes, he doesn’t need to respond to it as written. Instead, he can respond to a version of his own invention.”

    Which is exactly what is happening. Trump’s supporters believe Trump without question and won’t even consider reading the NY Times or WaPo to see what was actually written – because they are ‘rags’. It allows Trump to spin and flat out lie without anyone on the right ever criticizing him.

    Do you not see the problem with that? Trump wants only positive coverage. He doesn’t want true, factual coverage. There is a difference between spin and lies. Trump goes beyond the usual spin. If he could he would accept state controlled media.

  8. parker Says:

    Big Maq,

    Trump so far has done several things that have surprised me in a good way. I have been critical in certain areas where I found his administration a bit bungling. His tough talk to the msm is something I applaud and its long overdue. The msm is the propaganda arm of the dnc. GWB was too much of a gentleman to fight back against the vile treatment he received from the msm.

    Trump is Trump and he is not going to stop or in anyway rein in his circus ringmaster behavior. And the best news of all is the fact that hrc will never be president.

  9. parker Says:


    Millions of people with decades of experience observing the msm think the msm, for the most part, is in the business of lying and spinning for the dnc and every ‘progressive’ cause of the day.

    BTW, do you have a mother, wife, sister, female friends, children or grandchildren? I ask because I vehemently believe men or boys do not belong in places where my wife, daughter, draughter inlaws, and my granddaughters pee or shower.

  10. Montage Says:


    I make sure that I only pee in places where you can see me. I understand you get a perverse pleasure out of that… ; )

  11. chuck Says:

    won’t even consider reading the NY Times or WaPo to see what was actually written – because they are ‘rags’.

    I read the headlines and that is enough to know that they are rags. The actual articles may be better, but why bother when they have chosen to warn me off.

    The NY Times was already a rag during the Kosovo War, I had to go to the British and French newspapers to find decent reporting. That was when news on the internet was just starting, there were no paywalls, and the Guardian hadn’t yet gone over the edge.

  12. neo-neocon Says:


    I don’t get the point of your point.

    Trump’s most fervent supporters will never question him, no matter what he does or where they read about it. The rest of us are fully free to criticize him, and do. No one is blocking anyone from reading any paper they want and interpreting it any way they want.

    Trump is famous for taking offense at nearly everything and anything. But the coverage he’s gotten from the MSM, particularly since he took office, is manifestly unfair, and if I were Trump I’d be spitting mad as well. Nothing he said yesterday indicates he wouldn’t be okay with the truth, if reported—although, as I said, he does not do well with any criticism whatsoever, at least historically. But give him a chance, MSM—try not spinning everything for a change and see what happens.

    They can’t stop, though. They believe it’s their mission to destroy him, even if they have to twist and spin and lie.

  13. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Clearly your tolerance for the fecal matter in the NYT and WaPo far exceeds my own. It should stand you in good stead though, should you ever seek employment at a waste treatment facility.

  14. Montage Says:


    Thanks for the comment and being respectful too.

    I agree with you and not with Chris Cillizza that the MSM does not ‘play it straight’. There is a bias there. The issue, however, is that what the MSM writes and reports are not fake but [on occasion] biased, which is different than fake.

    So when Trump delegitimizes the press it means when the press reports facts – facts that might make Trump look bad – many conservatives won’t actually be reading it. And so it is a victory for Trump. That can be, yes, dangerous.

    I don’t know if you read the NY Times or WaPo or watch CNN but if you do how much would you say is ‘fake’. They do have good news reporters.

    Trump is raising the stakes. Just a couple hours ago he tweeted:
    “The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!”

    Wow. That’s wild. And pretty telling. Someone pointed out that on a December 1972 tape, Nixon told Kissinger, “The press is the enemy, the establishment is the enemy, the professors are the enemy.” Are we getting into Nixon territory? Do we want to go there?

    All I’m asking for is something normal. I’ll give Trump a chance. I moderately agree with some of his views. But his comments about the press are rather exaggerated.

  15. neo-neocon Says:


    I read the NY Times a great deal and write about it a great deal as well. I would say that a tremendous amount of what they print is false. Some is flat-out false (“fake news,” although I don’t use that term much). A lot of it is cleverer than that, more subtle than that, but in a way actually worse because it goes outside of people’s awareness.

    If you read my “A mind is a difficult thing to change” series, you’ll see that discovering how I’d been deceived by the MSM (my paper of record, the Times in particular, as well as others) for decades was a part of my change experience (completely incorrect reporting on Jenin was just one of many examples).

    Most of my posts about the Times can be found in the “press” category on the right sidebar, but you’ll have to wade through quite a few posts to find ones about the Times. However, you can start with these articles at CAMERA, on the subject of the Middle East (Israel and Palestine). If you scroll down, you’ll see how far back CAMERA’s research goes.

  16. Phil Christensen Says:

    Trump owes the Left leaning “news” nothing.


  17. Sam L. Says:

    Montage hath the Kool-Aid drank. Or maybe he believes his home-town paper. I’ve read the NYT and WaPo; don’t trust either one. CNN had Jordan Eason.

  18. DNW Says:

    “But, the more we let trump have a bye, or find acceptable, some of his more extreme stands / behavior, we are letting a permission structure creep up on us to the point we may one day be asking, “What happened? How can this happen?” “

    You mean something worse than ObamaCare, and the IRS targeting of conservative groups, and the bureaucracy contemptuously flouting the authority of Congress, destroying records, and refusing to testify? Something worse perhaps than including in the aforementioned package an agenda of judicial usurpation of the legislative function, the failure of the Executive to enforce the laws and statutes, its attempted rule by decree and the substitution of Obama’s program of fundamental transformation for the rule of law?

    ‘Cause, like, you know, that’s exactly what we have just lived through; though some reasonable conservatives don’t seem to have noticed. Perhaps you did, as your liberal neighbors cheered and the establishment press reported on the destruction of the middle class as if it were a weather trend no one could do much about and was hardly worth dwelling on anyway.

    Yeah, I think the horse has already bolted, good buddy. Frantic efforts to close the door barn door now, look as comic as they are useless.

    Those “we” days are dead and gone. Killed about the time of Clinton, and buried once and for all with the “rule” (as his partisans termed it) of Obama.

    But you know, nice sentiment, and all that.

  19. neo-neocon Says:


    By the way, the press WAS Nixon’s enemy. That doesn’t mean everything they printed about him was a lie—certainly not. But they were indeed out to get him. Take a look at this article.

  20. Montage Says:


    I have read CAMERA and I do acknowledge and agree some of the time with their criticisms of the NY Times. However, I will note that their criticisms are often about the use of language. The most recent article there starts: “After several months of referring to settlement lands and the rest of the West Bank as “Palestinian territory,” The New York Times appears to have departed from its tendentious language.”

    Language is a big part of getting a story factually correct. To that, I know you would agree. So the question is if we are to hold the NY Times and the rest of the MSM to that standard then we also need to hold right leaning media as well as the White House to that standard. Regardless of who is in the WH. Trump and his team at this point are an easy target because they are not well disciplined in language. the MSM recognizes this fact and reports it. Is it criticism or truth? They report. We decide. Thanks.

  21. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    Trump’s claim that the liberal progressive media is the enemy of the American people is a factually correct assertion.
    David Horowitz’s claim that the core agenda of the democrat party is the destruction of America is a factually correct assertion.
    Both seek fundamental transformation. Failing that, they will settle for America’s dissolution.
    The nation is far past the point where our differences can be reconciled because liberal fascism, the predominant mentality on the left, views the demand for the surrender of our basic liberties, as minimal ‘compromise’. We may disagree, as long as our disagreement is silent and submissive.

  22. AesopFan Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    February 17th, 2017 at 10:08 pm
    Trump’s claim that the liberal progressive media is the enemy of the American people is a factually correct assertion.
    David Horowitz’s claim that the core agenda of the democrat party is the destruction of America is a factually correct assertion….We may disagree, as long as our disagreement is silent and submissive.
    * * *
    To wit:

    “We’ve been tracking the case of Barronelle Stuztman for at least two years, and the situation remains largely the same. She’s still a small-business owner who knowing serves LGBT customers — including the plaintiffs in this case for several years — who does not want to participate in same-sex marriages. Stutzman doesn’t have a monopoly on the florist trade; there are plenty of other florists who can (and did, in the end) design custom floral spreads for the wedding in question. At this point, she stands to lose everything because of her belief that the First Amendment means that the free exercise of religion includes the right to decline to participate in ceremonies that go against her faith.

    If the situation remains largely the same, perhaps the context of it has changed since Donald Trump won the election. Suddenly, artists from singers to designers have refused to work with Trump, his wife, and his inauguration over their political offense at his election. His daughter’s designer products have been removed from stores under protest by Trump’s political opponents. These involve the same First Amendment rights that Barronelle Stutzman makes for declining a business opportunity on the basis of her own conscience.

    Government should not force the Barronelle Stutzmans out of business, unless we’re willing to do the same with the Sophie Theallats.” (a fashion designer trying to gin up a resistance against dressing Melania Trump for political reasons)


    “Dickerson tells Hewitt that we can’t throw out our standards on how presidents handle the media, but that “the press did all that good work ruining its reputation on its own.”

    Dickerson specifically pointed out the tendency of the media to provide “hysterical coverage to every little thing”:”

  23. Kyndyll G Says:

    I’ve mentioned before that long ago I was in the world of journalism and I found it distasteful even then. I went into journalism with the glorified idea of finding the who, what, when, where, why and how of the world, so that those who read what I had written would know these things and form their own ideas. Slanted coverage – whichever way it slanted – belonged on the editorial page, where it was clearly labeled as such. Even as a 20-something all those years ago, I realized that to hold onto such ideals and work in that industry would be a piss in the wind, so I did something different with my life.

    Decades later, I almost never see straight news, and certainly not from major news purveyors in the US. It’s being shaped to feed opinions of people who want to think something, not know anything. Left-biased news is also notoriously designed as pablum for mental infants who want to feel and never engage their brain at all. (Say what you want about right-biased news – it’s not put out there for people who measure rightness of something by how they feel about it.) The only thing one can do now is to dredge news sources all over the world, looking for stray facts.

    I give modern commercial media in the United State less than zero respect. It was worth voting for Trump just to see them get treated like dirt on a flea by a president with an R after his name. Unfortunately, millions of people feel and act based on the hysteria, the lies and distortions that the media continue to perpetrate and unless the situation defuses, bad things are in the offing.

  24. neo-neocon Says:


    Actually, the situation of the florist and of the actors, etc., who won’t perform for Trump are extremely different.

    The florist is dealing with two issues. The first is freedom of religion, because the refusal is based on religious beliefs. The second is that gay people are considered a statutorily protected group of people in that state, and discrimination against them is barred:

    “Discrimination based on same-sex marriage constitutes discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation,” Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud wrote for the court. The court said the state’s anti-discrimination law does not unduly burden the florist’s free exercise of religion.

    So the court balanced these two competing rights, and found the non-discrimination one stronger.

    In the case of someone who merely doesn’t want to entertain a president, no such rights exist for the president. A president is not a class of people protected against discrimination, and no one can be compelled to perform for a president against their wishes, even if their wishes are motivated by mere dislike of him or his politics.

  25. parker Says:


    How cute. I raise an issue that compromises the safety of females of all ages, and you respond like a snarky, juvenile jerk. I sincerely hope you never have female children or grandchildren because you are a snarky, juvenile jerk.

  26. Yann Says:

    About international news agencies being supposedly non-biased, I would recommend this article from Matti Friedman, ex-Associated Press.

    After that article, AP and other news agencies made their employees sign confidentiality clauses. So much for considering them non-biased

    An Insider’s Guide to the Most Important Story on Earth
    By Matti Friedman

  27. CapnRusty Says:

    I have had difficult conversations with people who interpret their bible, or other book of faith, literally. I am unable to use reasoning and/or logic to persuade. I think this is because they have reached their positions purely and only on the basis of belief. Without having climbed a ladder of reason to reach their position, they cannot retreat in the least, without falling into an abyss of ignorance.

    It seems that the sycophant media is in that position.

  28. carl in atlanta Says:

    Yano: Thanks very much for that link to Matti Friedman’s article. This comes as a real revelation to me, and explains a lot of cognitive dissonance I’ve felt in the past (and self-doubt about my comprehension of the true state of affairs in Israel).

    We really do live in a madhouse, don’t we? The fact that most people in the West have been uncritically accepting this Narrative is very troubling. The probability that there is nothing that can be done about it is downright horrifying.

  29. Big Maq Says:

    “His tough talk to the msm is something I applaud and its long overdue. … Trump is Trump and he is not going to stop or in anyway rein in his circus ringmaster behavior.” – parker

    trump is trying to position himself as a “victim”, and while most don’t trust the msm, trump’s crying foul has a hollow ring to it.

    This is particularly so, given the position he now holds, as he, more than any one person on earth, has the power to shape what we all talk about, among many other things he can do.

    There is a difference between being assertive and going negative and combative.

    And, there is a HUGE difference between someone with integrity and credibility doing the “tough talking” vs someone, who strays well off that mark, who doesn’t walk the talk, who is a “circus ringmaster”, doing so.

    What matters is moving the ball forward.

    A cathartic release (a pressurbate?) really doesn’t bring anyone on board who isn’t already.

    It is self indulgent and self serving more than it is helpful.

    This is what we get with such a “circus”, don’t expect this results in anything good.

    trump may not change, but it doesn’t mean it is acceptable, nor that it doesn’t come with its own consequences, nor that it is beyond criticism because of all that.

  30. CW Says:

    Yeah, I think you’re right. The leftwing media sincerely believes itself to be “mainstream.”

    You’re also right that the leftwing media has some funny ideas about what their job is supposed to be. It’s no accident that 80%+ of the press leans Left.

  31. Big Maq Says:

    “They can’t stop, though. They believe it’s their mission to destroy him, even if they have to twist and spin and lie.” – Neo

    But, why should this be a surprise?

    How many here were assuring us all that it is precisely because the msm is so biased that it will be a limiting factor on trump?

    I don’t like the fact that the msm is biased, and that they have been so much more intense in their reporting on trump.

    Their response in a way seems “proportional” to the GWB era vs the trump era escalation.

    It surely seems that trump threw down the gauntlet early in his campaign by tossing out his own lies and half truths, knowing that the msm would pick it up (remember Cruz’s father) while simultaneously taking umbrage with how anyone, including the msm might criticize him, labeling it “unfair”, while gratuitous in his personal criticism of his target (e.g. Lyin Ted, Megan Kelly).

    The hypocrisy is as colossal as that of the msm.

    Someone else here said “symbiotic”. I’d say it is an attempt to manipulate.

    The msm “cannot stop” because of the sensationality of trump. And, trump knows that. It’s the game he’s played all along!

    Any surprise that he continues to manipulate them and simultaneously chastise them when it is not going his way?

    We cannot in good conscience ONLY look at the msm in all this, and not somehow turn our gaze back at trump, nor just assume he is an innocent bystander.

    Unfortunately, few seem to see this as the downward spiral that it is, so wanting to what? get everyone to realize that the msm is biased? feel good that the msm gets “attacked” because of it?

    News flash! The public largely already knows that, and is why the msm have such low trust from them.

    Coming from trump, then, two “wrongs” are not going to make a right.

    BOTH sides just look bad.

  32. Yancey Ward Says:

    Well, I don’t care whether Cillizza believes his own bullshit or not- it really doesn’t matter in the end.

    At its core, the criticism of Trump’s treatment of the press is this- the press simply loathes the fact that Trump has found a way to speak directly to the people without the press’ consent and control of that speech. Nothing so infuriates a person with power than the loss of that power.

  33. Liz Says:

    The first three press sessions were with heads of state – Britain, Japan and Canada. These questions should ask about the meeting and the major issues between the two countries. The questions I saw from the press conferences were about the two countries and therefore appropriate for the event. To ask Trump about an internal political issue while the PM of Canada is there is insulting to the PM of Canada.

    Second, the MSM seem to ask the same question over and over again. Why? To trip up the President or the Press Secretary if they respond with a variation of the answer? It appears that the initial questions help to drive the press event. To call on the NYT, WaPo, AP, etc results in the same long comment that may become a question. Most people tune out of the event. Call on new faces and you get a variety of short direct questions and it is interesting. Then, when the MSM starts the same long questions, the contrast is very noticeable.

    I like the concept of the Skype “seats” and different people getting the opportunity to ask questions because it has a very American feel to it – the little guy has a chance! I think there has been an increase in watching the press conferences since they are more interesting.

    To call out “fake news” is pushing more people to read and investigate what is going on. How many times have you read the headline only to discover that by the fourth paragraph, something contradicts the storyline. More people are going to the original document. I’ve started reading the Executive Actions and comparing them to the reports – what a difference!

    Concerning the AP report on the use of Nat’l Guard – I saw several reports with different numbers yet the draft memo I saw on LI did not have any numbers in it. Did the reporters make up the number or were they told a number by the leaker? Is the Administration trying to find the leaks by handing out different tidbits to people? Could be fun to find out.

    Finally, the Administration has to learn to use the watermark function and have everything as “DRAFT” until it is final.

  34. Big Maq Says:

    At it’s core, Yancy only talks about half the story.

    “We cannot in good conscience ONLY look at the msm in all this, and not somehow turn our gaze back at trump, nor just assume he is an innocent bystander.”

    We can debate if trump is looking to get the “right” things done, but it seems obvious that his “approach”, at best, isn’t helpful.

    trump needs (and I think it his job to) rally public support for the many needed changes he is about to make.

    Otherwise, he hamstrings himself, and what does get done may be as fleeting as the next election cycle.

    He needs to move the ball forward rather than indulgently feud with the media in this way.

  35. Big Maq Says:

    @liz – some good points.

    Would only quibble with the fact that there have always been “off topic” questions thrown at POTUS’ during these pressers.

    I especially like the innovation of inviting smaller “news media” to attend via Skype. One of the very good ideas to change things up. I’d like to see it expanded.

    Would also like to see an established practice to invite a mix of media. Right now it is unclear their selection process.

    To understand why this may be important, think about how that may play out with a dem POTUS.

  36. neo-neocon Says:

    Big Maq:

    What makes you think it’s a surprise to most people?

    I always expected the MSM to build him up because they wanted him as nominee (they thought he’d lose the election), and that then they’d do their best to destroy him.

    And the fact that he manipulates them too doesn’t mean they aren’t trying to destroy him. The fact that he is very imperfect doesn’t mean they aren’t lying about him. And the fact that Trump has a role in how people perceive him—of course he does—doesn’t mean that “they” aren’t “making him look” a certain way, as well. They are spinning everything negatively with every fiber of their partisan beings, in addition to whatever he is actually doing. The two things are hardly mutually exclusive.

  37. charles Says:

    Neo: “They are spinning everything negatively with every fiber of their partisan beings . . . ”

    Absolutely true!

    Just three items off the top of my head to agree with that point:

    The crowd at his inauguration – they claim was smaller because he is less popular than Obama.

    Every news site, since his inauguration, has had story after story about Trump’s “low” poll numbers.

    And, lastly, the MSM seems to have just discovered the poor economy and the middle class being “left behind” as if it is all Trump’s fault and nothing to do with Obama’s 8 years.

  38. Liz Says:

    Big Maq:

    Thank you! The point I was making with the pressers after a international meeting was that the questions should be related to the situation. I know that there have been off topic questions, but I always felt embarrassed for the visiting dignitary. They are just standing there when they have traveled a long way to meet with our President. The “Press” wants to be respected, but they show little respect for others.

    Remember there was a story about moving the press meetings to another building on the WH campus and the press complained. The purpose was to be able to handle more people but the MSM wanted only their people in the room. The result is the Skype option, which the MSM doesn’t like. I think they are over representing the small and alternative press for now and it will settle into a good mix of old vs new media.

    Doesn’t it take 3-4 weeks for something to become a habit?

    Now the other thing that needs to change is the long,multi-part question. I learned that if a memo had many questions, the answer you really needed was never given. Same at the pressers – they are complaining that Trump is not answering the question. Ask him shorter questions because it is harder to avoid what you don’t want to answer.

    I noticed that Trump will tell the reporter “that’s a good question” and then answer it. I think the reporter was shocked and then said “thank you”. When it gets to be a multi-part question, Trump is interrupting to answer pt 1 and actually tells the reporter to stop. When a reporter asked why he hasn’t met with the CBC, he joked about having the reporter set up the meeting.

    I see some positive and negative reinforcement techniques emerging.

    Re the rally – he is doing that function tonight. I noticed that the MSM has complained already, but Obama did it to push ACA. That’s how we got so many quotes about keeping your doctor and your plan as well as saving $2,500. Bush tried to do it with letting workers put part of their Social Security contributions to a self-directed plan, but the press didn’t let him succeed in that attempt.

  39. Liz Says:


    Don’t forget the homeless and the ignored Vet – we’ll see more stories on those people.

    I’ve also seen stories about Trump going on trips to see companies and to talk with people (more campaigning – as if Obama didn’t tie in a official visit with multiple fundraising stops.)

    Also, the trips to his home in Florida. I’m sure they will be classified as vacations, even though they are happening on weekends and one involved a state visit (with Japan PM). And, I am pretty sure that Trump will be working during that time and just not playing around. Every President works or is at least on call for 24/7/365.

  40. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    The situation with Trump is very much like the Muslim majority countries, where the only choice is between repressive dictatorial regimes and fanatical theocracies.

    The FDR response comes to mind with Trump, “He may be an SOB but he’s our SOB”.

    Trump is no conservative but his goals are light years better than the democrats. While much of the criticism of Trump is valid, any criticism of Trump will and is being used by the Left to invalidate him. A neutered Trump results in a much greater chance of another democrat President in 2020. Impeachment or assassination of Trump places Pence in the Presidency, which will result in the same ineffectual “finger in the dam” as did George Bush.

    By any metric, authoritarians are preferable to totalitarians. Both are indeed bad but one is far worse than the other.

  41. Liz Says:

    GB – would you please go into more detail concerning this comment….

    “The situation with Trump is very much like the Muslim majority countries, where the only choice is between repressive dictatorial regimes and fanatical theocracies. ”

    It seems to conflict with this comment…

    “Trump is no conservative but his goals are light years better than the democrats. ”

    As well as this one….

    “By any metric, authoritarians are preferable to totalitarians. Both are indeed bad but one is far worse than the other.”


  42. Yancey Ward Says:

    I just love this naivete and ignorance all rolled up into one soundbite from a Never-Trumper:

    trump needs (and I think it his job to) rally public support for the many needed changes he is about to make.

    That is exactly what he is doing by attacking the press. Maq, you seem to have some delusional belief that if only Trump behaved like, let’s say, Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney, or George W. Bush, that the press would back off and give him room to rally this support. That is nonsense on stilts. All he would get for trying to make nice with these enemies is show the weakness that they would then use to attack with even more vigor.

    Trump has thrown the old playbook out the window after setting it on fire. Taking advice from the Never-Trump brigade wasn’t worth it before November, and sure as Hell isn’t worth taking now.

  43. Geoffrey Britain Says:


    Islam places no distinction between the secular and religious and between the political and religious. Islam proclaims itself to have the God-given right to rule over every aspect of societal and personal life.

    The only exception to that is when a repressive dictatorial regime represses Islam, while giving lip service to it. The Saudis are a perfect example of this dynamic.

    Thus in Muslim societies, the only choice is between two bad forms of governance.

    Trump’s inclination are authoritarian. The Left’s inclinations are inherently totalitarian. Authoritarians seek domination, once achieved they allow activity that doesn’t threaten that domination. Totalitarians seek conversion and are fundamentally intolerant of anything that fails to align itself ideologically.

    Two bad ‘choices’ but one allows for recovery whereas the other does not.

  44. Liz Says:

    GB – thank you for the explanations. My mind was having a bit of trouble figuring things out…

    When I first read your comment, I was trying to figure out how a Trump presidency was like “repressive dictatorial regimes” or “fanatical theocracies”. Despite what many people think, I was seeing none of the repression, or fanatical theocracy.

    Concerning the Left – I do see the totalitarianism – the conversion to their way of thinking and the intolerance of others.

    WRT Trump – I am still open. I see a brash negotiator trying to establish himself. But, he is still aware that there are boundaries. I think he will be more authoritarian within the executive branch. It will be his administration. He’ll get the size down, he’ll get rid of the leakers and disloyal ones. But, he knows that he will have to work with Congress and the judicial system. If you read the Executive Actions, many are in the form of here’s the existing law, follow it and not what the past Administration been doing, figure out how to implement it and get back to me in x number of days with the new process or the suggestions to change it by getting the law changed.

    With some departments that we would like to see greatly reduced or eliminated, there has to be a logical process – identify and get rid of bad regulations and then go after the laws that created these regs. Eliminate what can be, then clean up what remains and assign the function to the appropriate department. Sell the excess buildings so rebuilding will be hard.

    I like that he is having all of these meetings which he is calling “listening sessions” vs the Ds wondering how to “talk to the voters”. It will give him a way to moderate some of his stances. We can all hope.

  45. parker Says:


    I rarely return to a comment thread after I go to sleep, but I came back to see if you had a snarky, juvenile jerk retort to my comment labeling you as a snarky, juvenile jerk. So I guess, though I may be wrong (its happened before) about you being a snarky, juvenile jerk. It remains true, aim small miss small.

    Good night, don’t sleep tight in your snarky, juvenile jerk bubble.

    Yes, I can be relentless and cruel. Just rub me the wrong way.

  46. Big Maq Says:

    “They are spinning everything negatively with every fiber of their partisan beings, in addition to whatever he is actually doing. The two things are hardly mutually exclusive. “

    Right. I agree with most of what you said, though I don’t see it yet at the “every fiber of their being” level – that condition ought to be on the battlefield in a war zone, a real one.

    Agree that it is not mutually exclusive. They are intimately tied to each other – I believe you said it seems symbiotic.

    But, the reaction to all that on the left is as if this is unbelievable, or some kind of heightened, shocking incredulity.

    Part of what made me rather upset about trump winning the nomination in the first place is that this is very much a consequence.

    We can keep pointing at the left / msm, without much criticism of trump’s role in it all, and implicitly give him a “bye”, as many here seem to want, perhaps being entertained by the “fight”.

    Well, trump is giving them what they want. Instead, they should ALSO be extremely upset that this clumsiness triggered such a debacle.

    A fumble like that is usually enough to get people fired in the rest of the real working world.

    Heck, even on “The Apprentice” it would qualify for the weekly firing, along with other team members involved.

    But, standards and accountability are out the window nowadays.

    Just see that all as perpetuating this destructive spiral.

    I keep hoping that cooler and smarter heads prevail.

    We’ll see.

  47. Big Maq Says:

    @liz – I’d add that even with those issues, or if they were ever corrected, more important, and something I’d much prefer, is for the politicians to answer the questions being posed rather than the bob, weave, and deflection we see, if not outright deceptions and falsehoods.

    We can hope and dream.

  48. DaveMay Says:

    Plato sort of described fake news in his “Allegory of the Cave.” The shadows that flickered off the walls represented reality to the chained prisoners. The one that escaped ascended to the top and, peeking outside, discovered that there is such a thing as Truth, and that truth corresponds to reality. Unfortunately, when he returned to tell of his discovery, none of the chained prisoners believed him. Indeed, they mocked him and wanted to kill him.
    The MSM are like the guards in the cave creating false images. In many respects, conservatives, much like Socrates, grasp the larger truth. It didn’t end well with Socrates.

  49. Big Maq Says:

    @DaveMay – just to add, trump is the guy telling the prisoners that the shadows represent yet something else.

    That is a key part of the issue we face today.

    Many feel they mustn’t question trump’s narrative for fear of somehow it would validate the msm / left’s version, so 100% of their energy is focused on pushing back on that.

    It doesn’t end well if we merely pick sides rather than hold both sides accountable.

  50. DaveMay Says:

    There is such a thing as truth–and it is not a matter of perspective. Truth as narrative (shadows) is what the MSM peddles. Of course it is THEIR narrative that is always advanced. And their liberal narrative is quite relativistic (the rejection of truth). With no foundation in truth, might makes right. Power is what the MSM is all about.

  51. Big Maq Says:

    But Dave, one does not fight untruth with one’s own untruth.

    BOTH sides need to be held accountable.

    Focusing and blaming all one side inexorably reflects / leads to a “might makes right” mentality which eventually destroys democracy.

    We are not going to make any headway whatsoever on the msm narrative, if trump cannot even walk his talk. People just won’t buy what he is “selling”.

    Democracy is not about pushing forth your agenda come h*ll or high water. It is about building support.

    We saw the consequences with obamacare. The dems argued against their critics then that people will love it once they see it. Weren’t they delusional?

    What makes us think any good trump may do will survive the next election cycle without broad support?

    And if he is not building support (right now, it is arguably lower than during the election), then couldn’t a good many see his efforts as “might makes right”? Just like we accused obama and the dems of?

  52. neo-neocon Says:

    Big Maq:

    I’m not sure why you keep saying we need to hold both sides accountable when many of us here do hold both sides accountable.

    I certainly do my utmost to do so, and I think I succeed much of the time, as do many people here. This blog has never been some sort of Trump cheering section.

    Some people however, are very inclined to give Trump a pass (and/or give the GOP a pass). It will always be the case that there are plenty of people on both sides who do that. However, I see less of it in general about Trump than about a lot of other presidents (Obama being the best example).

    Are you expecting everyone on the right to be as hard on the right as they are on the left? You’re going to have a long wait if you’re waiting for that (check out human nature).

    Ends justify means and might makes right are very deeply ingrained in people, and you will never, never eradicate it.

    You are also ignoring or perhaps minimizing the very real dilemma of how to fight an opposition that very much believes in ends justify means. How dirty must one get to fight people who fight dirty? That’s not a facile question with a facile answer; it’s one to wrestle with. I certainly have thought about it. I tend to think we must stick to principles. But there’s also the old saying: nice guys finish last. These are real dilemmas.

  53. parker Says:

    I have no problem with deciding. Case by case, which side to hold accountable. From my POV i see which side is the most idangerous to the Republic. It ain’t the right, it is the left.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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