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Don't meet the press

Unable to get the president on impeachment, or to turn Iran's attack on our embassy in Iraq into Benghazi, or even to spin the best economy in 50 years into anything but the best economy in 50 years, the media and their friends in government are whining that President Donald John Trump has not held a press briefing in 300-plus days.

That is a lie, of course.

White House officials brief the press all the time. Mike Pompeo and Steve Mnuchin brief the press very publicly on Friday. The president briefed them on Tuesday about Iran's attack on 2 bases in Iraq.

As for press conferences, the president holds them all the time, usually on his way to Marine One helicopter on his way to Air Force One. This has been the most newsworthy presidency in my life. He talks to the press all the time.

What White House reporters miss are those daily press briefings with the press secretary. They were ratings gold.

The Hill reported on February 10, 2017, three weeks into the presidency, "White House press secretary Sean Spicer's briefings have proved to be ratings gold for the cable news networks, even beating soap operas like The Bold and the Beautiful and General Hospital on broadcast networks CBS and ABC.

"Spicer’s briefings, carried live by Fox News, CNN and MSNBC, are delivering an average of 4.3 million viewers, according to Nielsen data. Statistics show that across Fox, CNN and MSNBC, audiences jump by an average of 10% when Spicer appears on screen for the briefings."

Cable news had a good thing going. But the media blew it. Actress Melissa McCarthy mocked Spicer on SNL. Jim Acosta of CNN made a mockery of reporting. He didn't ask questions; he made a spectacle of himself. He once read The New Colossus poem by Emma Lazarus to mock the White House position on immigration.

Instead of reining him in like a professional association would, the White House Correspondents Association defended him (and later a Playboy reporter who challenged Sebastian Gorka to a fight at a press conference).

Eventually, the president had enough of these antics, and pulled the plug on the free ratings gift.

They get crumbs now. They have to hope the president will take questions before boarding Marine One. Gone are the formal, scheduled, daily show in the White House studio where the reporters get airtime when asking their questions. Now the focus is only on the president.

The children's table crowd now demands a return to the grownup table. They had their friends in government make their case.

CNN reported on Friday, "In an open letter, a group of 13 former White House press secretaries, foreign service and military officials call for the return of regular White House and other press briefings."


The letter itself was a hoot. The 13 officials were mainly spokesmen for Clinton and Obama.

They said, "An informed press corps strengthens our ability to govern. Yes, presidents are now able to communicate directly via the Internet, social media and tweets. But most Americans will learn about the work of the White House in the reports they see, read, and hear in what we collectively call 'the press.'"

How so?

They said, "Regular briefings also force a certain discipline on government decision making. Knowing there are briefings scheduled is a powerful incentive for administration officials to complete a policy process on time. Put another way, no presidents want their briefers to say, day after day, we haven't figured that one out yet."

Huh? Did Dee Dee Myers, Jay Carney and company just admit that Clinton and Obama rushed decisions so the press secretary would not look bad at a daily briefing? For that reason alone, dump it.

The nation is ill-served by this press which has tossed aside objectivity in favor of overturning the 2016 election results.

The president is seeing them driven before him, hearing the lamentations of their women, and drinking their tears.

As Adele once sang, they could have had it all.

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