Owatonna, MN Correspondent-Perhaps the only group of people who use words to persuade or convince more than debaters or advertisers is politicians. And sometimes, what is not said carries more weight and meaning that what is said. That’s why dozens if not hundreds of reporters flock to the White House daily to hear what the Administration says or doesn’t say on the topics of the day.
The Administration’s goal is to convince the press and the public that whatever they say is true. The press’s job is to collect and analyze what has been said by the Administration and present it clearly to the public so they may make up their own minds. Unfortunately, this is the ideal, and it has long been discarded in favor of every side of an issue putting their own spin on their comments and analysis to make them seem right or win favor with voters.
The process began to decay with the ascent of mass media news and the invention of the sound bite. Most words can be twisted to imply something else by taking them out of context or leaving out qualifying or supporting statements. I understand why the White House Press Secretary and top Administration officials get frustrated when their President’s words, or the words of his spokespeople, get distorted by the media and end up sending the wrong message to the public.
It’s too early for the White House to panic and scrap their communication system for some other method. That all but concedes that they’ve been unsuccessful at “fooling” the press corps and the public with their message.
More emphasis should be placed on publishing full transcripts of speeches, media statements, press releases, press conferences, etc. so everyone can easily read exactly what was said by whom and in what context. Commentators and Opinion writers will still put their own interpretation on what was said, but won’t as easily be able to hide behind a sound bite that makes their argument.
However, this president doesn’t seem to think carefully before he speaks and doesn’t appear to have a thorough understanding of all the political issues that surround him. He and his staff would be wise to rely heavily upon printed statements so what he says is consistent with what his press secretary and top officials are saying. Staying on message seems to have been lost in the confusion of the early months of this Administration.
The added benefit of printed statements given to all reporters and media outlets is that each must interpret their news coverage from the same “facts,” a press release for example. This will allow the public to contrast and compare and eventually decide which news source seems to be the most impartial and accurate with their reporting and analysis.
Gastonia, NC Correspondent-As much as our dear President Trump vilifies the press and casts them as villains, as much as Sean Spicer plays fast and loose with facts and truth, in the end the White House Press Corps is an institution which must be allowed to continue.
The simple fact is that the GOOD reporters, the ones who get to the truth no matter what it is, are the ones who break the big stories, from Watergate to Lewinsky, from Iran-Contra to Russian election tomfoolery. Yes, there are reporters in the Corps with their own axes to grind. There are youngsters with agendas who think that being sensational will gain them notoriety and book deals. There are old hacks who’ve never quite gotten their big break who are trying desperately to make an impact before they fade away.
But the heart of the Press Corps, the meat and potatoes of what makes it to the nation’s politics pages, national news segments and (occasionally) front pages all over the world, are journalists who are practicing their craft in ways that would make Edward R. Murrow proud. Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the (not failing) New York Times and all the others have pool reporters who labor in the shadows, who never miss a press briefing and whose faces you’ll rarely see in front of a camera. They check the facts, chase the leads, write the copy and collect the quotes that make the news what it is.
As an old friend who spent 15 years on the White House beat once told me, “There’s too damned much going on to keep up with your own personal bias if you’re doing your job right. You have too much to write about to get overly creative.”
Keep the press briefings. Keep the press corps. Keep the freedom of the press.
Prescott Valley, AZ Correspondent-The White House media operations do need to be scrapped and a more consistent and straightforward submittal of information be established. With the left wing media’s refusal to report accurate information and the truth, press briefings of any kind need to be restructured so they speak directly to Americans rather than through the White House Press Corps and other leftist media representatives.
President Trump owes nothing to the Washington press corps and those that rule the news media today. During one of the first news conferences with the White House Press Corps in the early 1930s, President Roosevelt distinctively laid down rules to the press, which included no direct quoting of the president unless a prepared quote came from his office. There were no allowances for distortion of words spoken, and Roosevelt informed the press that they were there to understand what was going on and there would be no attacks, accusations or insinuations hidden in questions to him or press secretaries. These same cut and dried rules from long ago need to be applied to the current press corps.
Trump must set a new standard that limits the Washington press corps and their distorted news coverage. Their hostility and lack of knowledge and responsibility must come to a halt. Control of the narrative is the key, and nothing will stop the current crop of White House reporters from their agenda unless very defining rules and new strategies are established.
The White House Press briefing room should be shut down to begin with and any daily briefings should be submitted to members of the press in printed form. If there are legitimate follow up questions, they can be asked, and answered, in written form. Televised briefings of any kind should also be greatly limited, maybe every few weeks in a nationwide press conference.
Broader kinds of communications, beyond the current leftist new hubs and cable prognosticators need to be instituted. A country-wide communications infrastructure directed towards interactions with local news broadcasters as well as with print media, radio, the internet and others interested in the real news should be an objective in the dissemination of real news. Real news messages also need to be taken to smaller communities and directed to groups where personal interaction and news information can be more easily communicated.
The president, when possible, should also make himself available to local and regional media and meet with news anchors in other cities and states and take questions from them, and even questions from callers. Regional press conferences would work as well with a different destination each week with regional press secretaries appointed to varying locations where they meet with news contacts in those areas. Going directly to the people with the real news with an on task narrative would be of value in communicating the truth.
Finding and developing the right media conduits dedicated to communicating the truth rather than sabotaging it and detracting from it is one way to solve the dilemma with the leftist agenda. The president and his press secretaries need to become an open channel to local and regional media with communication at those levels. There must be a means to reach out, communicate and counter the leftist Washington, D.C. media agenda.
Looking back on the effectiveness of Trump campaign rallies, it is evident that these same kinds of strategies should be utilized to communicate the news outside of the beltway. With the technological and travel capabilities available to the president, there is no reason for him to remain confined to the White House when he can take his message to regular citizens throughout the country.
Daily and weekly press briefings in the White House need to be stopped as soon as possible. Local media outlets across the country should become the standard bearers of the real news, and the leftist White House media corps can be given the back seat with written press briefings and a few tidbits here and there with live briefings. If they want expanded answers to their repetitive and ludicrous questions, they can go to appropriate cabinet level departments for their answers. It is way past time to defuse the entitlement media, and Trump will find a way to shut them down. The national security and safety of the country and its citizens rides on it.