The president again calls media ‘the enemy of the people’ in CPAC speech
‘They are very dishonest people, and they shouldn’t use sources. They should put the name of the person. You will see stories dry up like you’ve never seen before.’
That we should enter the weekend with yet another Donald Trump attack on the media is, I suppose, to be expected. Never in the history of the US has the president so publicly condemned the press for doing its job, for reporting and publishing. I suppose perversely it is providing a boost to some news outlets such as The New York Times and The Washington Post, but I know that many local papers are seeing their circulations continue to plummet as some readers find yet another reason to let their subscriptions pass (see this story on three Kentucky papers being merged into one). This trend may be unrelated to the criticism coming from The White House, but it is happening, nevertheless.
But what to do about it. The answer lies in exactly what the president is complaining about. It lies with us doing our jobs and reporting.
So, in the interest of reporting, I would like to reproduce that portion of the president’s speech today at CPAC that has to do with the media. In doing so, I have selected Vox’s transcript of the speech as it is verbatim, as opposed to cleaned up. Better to evaluate the tone and meanness of the speech, and the vitriol that the president spoke about us, the media, the press.
And I want you all to know we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake. Phony. Fake. A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people, and they are. They are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none. I saw one story recently where they said nine people have confirmed. There are no nine people. I don’t believe there was one or two people. Nine people. And I said give me a brea,k because I know the people. I know who they talked to. There were no nine people. But they say nine people. And somebody reads it and they say, oh, nine people, they have nine sources. They make up sources.
They’re very dishonest people. In fact, in covering my comments, the dishonest media did not explain that I called the fake news the enemy of the people — the fake news. They dropped off the word “fake”. And all of a sudden the story became the media is the enemy. They take the word “fake” out. And now I’m saying, oh, no, this is no good. But that’s the way they are. So I’m not against the media, I’m not against the press. I don’t mind bad stories if I deserve them, and I tell you, I love good stories, but we won’t talk — I don’t get too many of them. But I am only against the fake news media or press. Fake. Fake. They have to leave that word.
I’m against the people that make up stories and make up sources. They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name. Let their name be put out there. Let their name be put out. A source says that Donald Trump is a horrible, horrible human being — let them say it to my face. Let there be no more sources. And remember this, and not in all cases. I mean, I had a story yesterday written about me in Reuters by a very honorable man that was a very fair story. There are some great reporters around, they are talented and honest as the day is long; that is great. But there are some terrible, dishonest people that do a tremendous disservice to our country, and to our people.
They are very dishonest people, and they shouldn’t use sources. They should put the name of the person. You will see stories dry up like you’ve never seen before. You have no idea how bad it is because if you are not part of the story — and I put myself in your position sometimes because many of you, you’re not part of the story — and if you’re not part of the story, you know, then you sort of know if you are part of the story, you know what they’re saying is true or not.
So when they make it up and they make up something else, and you saw that before the election — polls, polls. They come out with some of these polls — and some of them got it right. I must say, Los Angeles Times, shocking, they did a great job. We had a couple of others that were right. Generally speaking, I can tell you the network. Somebody said, “A poll came out.” I said what network is it?
And they’ll say a certain — let’s not even mention names, right? Shall we? Well, you have a lot of them. The Clinton News Network is one. Totally. Take a look, honestly. Take a look at their polls over the last two years. You’d think they’d fire the pollster, right? After years and years of getting battered. I mean, who knows, maybe they’re just bad at polling. Or maybe they’re not legit. But it’s one or the other. Look at how inaccurate. Look at CBS, look at ABC also. Look at NBC…
…And many of these groups are part of large media corporations that have their on agenda. And it’s not your agenda and it’s not the country’s agenda, it’s their own agenda. They have a professional obligation as members of the press to report honestly, but as you saw throughout the entire campaign and even now, the fake news doesn’t tell the truth. Doesn’t tell the truth. So just in finishing, I say it doesn’t represent the people, it never will represent the people and we’re going to do something about it because we have to go out and we have to speak our minds and we have to be honest.
(Note: the LA Times poll, which was really a panel survey, predicted that Trump would win the popular vote. He did not, losing by nearly three million votes.)
The president then went on to criticize the Affordable Care Act, the national debt, and immigration. He again pointed to Chicago and said again “can you believe what’s happening in Chicago.”
The president also said he would dramatically increase the budget for the military.
“It will be one of the greatest military build-ups in American history,” Trump said. “No one will dare question as they have been because we’re very depleted, very, very depleted. Sequester. Sequester. Nobody will dare question our military might again. We believe in peace through strength and that’s what we will have.”
He then criticized NAFTA, before inexplicably returning to the ACA. (Was his speech actually written this way, or did he get lost?)
He did not, mercifully, return to attacking the press.
Have a good weekend.
Update: Several news organizations this afternoon boycotted a White House press gaggle (informal meeting) after CNN, the NYT and others were excluded. As a result, Poynter is reporting that the AP and Time boycotted the meeting.
“Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” NYT executive editor Dean Baquet said of the incident. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and other news organizations**. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”
Shame on reporters who didn't walk out of the White House briefing denied to their CNN, NYT etc colleagues.
— Spencer Ackerman (@attackerman) February 24, 2017
This power play will no doubt continue. The question is whether the competitive instincts of reporters and publishers will allow the administration to continue to play favorites, or whether the games will stop.
I fear, however, that there are enough independent news outlets that will be more than happy to play along with the administration in order to gain access. That they have small audiences will not matter to the White House as long as these outfits toe the line.
** The Hill’s Jordan Fabian reports that in addition to CNN, other excluded new organizations were The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily Mail, Politico, BuzzFeed, BBC, as well as The Hill themselves. Breitbart, Fox News, ABC, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg and The Washington Times were among those let into Spicer’s office for the press gaggle.
The WSJ, for their part, said they were not aware that the other news outlets had been excluded, and would not participate in future gaggles if those organizations were excluded. One wonders, however, how they didn’t notice their absence.