Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer said the loss of public faith in the media is a “massive crisis” for the press corps tasked with covering the Trump administration in an interview published Monday.
Without defending Sean Spicer’s dressing down of the press Saturday regarding coverage of Trump’s inaugural crowd size, Fleischer told The Washington Post the “feeding frenzy” that resulted in the press is exactly the kind of thing that’s going to exacerbate their credibility problem with the public. They were “soft” on Obama, he said, and are setting themselves up for further “damage” during the Trump administration if they refuse to cover him fairly.
“I don’t quarrel with the press for taking issue with the statistics used about the inaugural parade or the White House making a big issue of the inaugural,” he told The Washington Post. Who cares? But I take issue with the press making this a full-throated feeding frenzy when they don’t about other issues. I think they gave President Obama soft coverage for eight years.”
Citing an October Gallup poll that found 86 percent of Republicans, nearly half of Democrats and 70 percent of Independents don’t trust the media’s ability to fairly and accurately report the news, Fleischer suggested the press is walking into a potential minefield in its coverage of the Trump administration.
“I mean, this is a massive crisis for the press, and the degree now that the press revs up its scrutiny and its opposition to Donald Trump, as opposed to being neutral and fair to Donald Trump – they will compound their own problem, because Republicans don’t trust them, independents largely don’t trust them, and the press risks just being credible to only one party in America,” he said. “The press lost credibility with Republicans and independents during the Obama years, setting itself up for the damage that’s going to be done during the Trump years.”
Fleischer served as press secretary under former President George W. Bush.
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