Sunday, February 26, 2017

Real News Need Not Apply





"Only a FAKE PRESIDENT would declare the First Amendment to be the enemy of the American people," Joe Scarborough tweeted.

And that was one week before, as reported by The Hill

The White House blocked a number of news outlets from covering spokesman Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session on Friday afternoon. 

Spicer decided to hold an off-camera “gaggle” with reporters inside his West Wing office instead of the traditional on-camera briefing in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room.  

Among the outlets not permitted to cover the gaggle were news organizations President Trump has singled out for criticism, including CNN. 

The New York Times, The Hill, Politico, BuzzFeed, the Daily Mail, BBC, the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News were among the other news organizations not permitted to attend.

Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. 

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and McClatchy. 

No flip of the coin, no lottery was needed because

Journalists from several right-leaning outlets were allowed into Spicer’s office, including Breitbart, the Washington Times and One America News Network. 

A number of major news organizations were also let in to cover the gaggle. That group included ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, Reuters, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal and McClatchy. 






Prompted by this event, anti-Trump GOP strategist Ana Navarro tweeted "no self-respecting news organization should attend White House Correspondents dinner after being declared "enemy of the people,"  (The following day, Trump himself bowed out.)

Fortunately, resistance seems to be growing. The Hill continues

Reporters from The Associated Press and Time magazine were allowed into the gaggle but refused to attend. 

“AP believes the public should have as much access to the president as possible,” the organization's communications arm tweeted.

The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) sharply criticized the decision.

“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House,” Jeff Mason, the association’s president, said in a statement. 

“We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not,” he added. “The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”

As Vice President Pence looks on in silence, the attacks by the Administration on the press look increasingly grave, a slippery slope to a shriveling First Amendment.  With the benefit of hindsight, the press largely recognizes the assault and possible consequences.  Reflecting upon events in Europe some 40 years earlier, in 1974 Hannah Arendt wrote

The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer.... and a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.







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