Donald Trump, like virtually every president before him, is upset that there have been leaks to the news media (and heaven knows who else) from his administration. In his Thursday press conference, Trump emphasized that leaks of classified information or matters relating to national security are "criminal" acts — because they are — and promised to pursue the leakers. That, and Trump's Friday afternoon tweet — that "The FAKE NEWS media ... is the enemy of the American People!" — was apparently enough to send the Washington Post's Margaret Sullivan scurrying under her bed, shaking in fear. Spare me the hysteria.
One of the more amusing yet pathetic spectacles of the Trump administration’s early weeks — the ongoing establishment press fury at the richly deserved lack of respect it is getting from the President and his press secretary — neared meltdown yesterday. This occurred because Donald Trump wasn't asked a question everyone knew he wouldn't answer if asked about Michael Flynn at a joint press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. On Monday, Scott Whitlock at NewsBusters covered the joint temper tantrum/pity party at MSNBC in which Brian Williams — that's right, "Mr. Madeup Stories" himself — and Katy Tur engaged. CNN, CNN.com, the Washington Post, the New York Times, the Associated Press and others joined the roster of not so fine whiners.
It tends to be good advice to avoid automatically assigning negative or malicious intent, such as a desire to play "gotcha," when someone's actions, inaction, or statements might have simply arisen from breathtaking ignorance. But what if it appears to a combination of both traits? That seems to be the case with New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman's Saturday morning tweet. Haberman, whose access to search engines was presumably intact at the time, asked, "Other than San Bernardino shootings, has there been a terrorist attack involving a non-US-born attacker since 9/11?"
In a late Wednesday afternoon NewsBusters post, I commented on the extraordinary hostility reporters at the Associated Press exhibited towards Donald Trump and his administration during their first two full business days in power. In that post, I wondered if they might be carrying a childish grudge over not being able to ask the first question at Press Secretary Sean Spicer's briefings, as they virtually always have since last decade. An unbylined late Tuesday AP report spotted by John Hinderaker at Powerline confirmed my suspicion. They're mad as hornets, and clearly can't handle it.
Since last decade, it's been White House tradition that the press secretary typically calls on an Associated Press reporter to ask the first question at briefings. Trump administration Press Secretary Sean Spicer has not selected AP for the first question at either of his first two briefings, and numerous press outlets have noted that avoidance. It's more than fair to ask, given the tone of the AP's Trump administration coverage so far this week, whether the wire service's reporters are now carrying a horribly unprofessional grudge, causing them to become even more hostile in their reporting than they were during the 2016 election campaign and the presidential transition. (Update, Jan. 26: They definitely are.)
At 6:55 a.m. on Sunday, Angie Goff of NBC4 in Washington, whose Twitter handle is @OhMyGOFF, tweeted, "JUST IN: The White House releases statement ..." on Saturday's "Women's Marches" in Washington and elsewhere. Goff attached the alleged "White House" statement. 2-1/2 hours later, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tweeted that "The White House has not issued a statement." Good grief.
Here's an episode which indicates that many reporters in the establishment press expect the worst from Donald Trump, and can't wait to put it out there when they think they have it. On Friday, when Time Magazine political reporter Zeke Miller didn't immediately see the bust of Martin Luther King in the White House's Oval Office where he expected to see it, his knee-jerk assumption was that it was no longer there. So he tweeted that it was gone, with no indication that he first attempted to confirm with anyone in a position to know that it had been removed. Sensing a golden opportunity, others in the press accepted Miller's non-observation and freely retweeted it.
On Tuesday, Kyle Pope, Editor in Chief and Publisher of the Columbia Journalism Review, posted "An open letter to Trump from the US press corps." Pope informed Mr. Trump, as if the man who is now this nation's 45th President didn't know already, that "while you have every right to decide your ground rules for engaging with the press, we have some, too."
On January 13, Kevin Freking at the Associated Press reported that Congressman John Lewis (D-Ga.) would be "joining several other Democrats who have decided to boycott" the presidential inauguration of Donald Trump. It further reported that Lewis "said it will be the first inauguration he has missed in three decades as Democrats and Republicans took the oath of office." The fact is that John Lewis boycotted the inauguration of George W. Bush in 2001 in very outspoken fashion. The AP has yet to correct the record — and the fact that it did not directly quote Lewis does not absolve them of that obligation. Additionally, the AP also reported Tuesday morning that no other congressman failed to attend Bush 43's inauguration. Contemporaneous post-inauguration news reports indicate that others besides Lewis were also absent.
Here we go again. A month ago, Robert Baer, a leading coddler of Iran who is an "Intelligence and Security Analyst" while pontificating at CNN, contended that alleged Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election meant that the nation needs "to vote again." Now The Hill has given space to Chris Edelson, an assistant professor of government in American University's School of Public Affairs, to advocate the same thing ("Remedy for Russian meddling should be new election").
CNN's Jim Acosta and Brian Stelter blasted Donald Trump on Thursday's New Day over the President-Elect's treatment of the media at his Wednesday press conference. Acosta, who got in a face-off with Trump, expressed his "hope...that Donald Trump can get past this...'Clinton News Network, CNN sucks' mentality that we saw out on the campaign trail." Stelter bewailed how "the environment right now is so far from normal."
Monday evening, just three days after causing an uproar by reporting that "Russian hackers penetrated (the) U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont," the Washington Post is now saying that "Russian government hackers do not appear to have targeted Vermont utility, say people close to investigation." In other words (cue the late Glida Radner's famous Saturday Night Live character Emily Litella): "We told you we had a story, but we really never did. So ... Never mind."