The Mirror

Conservative White House Gathering Leaves Some Jeering, Others Cheering


Betsy Rothstein Gossip blogger
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On Monday, President Trump and members of his White House communications team welcomed journalists from conservative-leaning publications over for fruit and cookies.

But they didn’t all leave on sugar highs.

While some reporters said the negative reaction was less hyped than it appeared to be in The Hill’s write-up, a partygoer told The Mirror that there are definitely enemies within Trump’s midst. More pointedly: #NeverTrumpers. The biggest gripe was that White House officials told reporters that the soirée was on background and took their phones. Later, that decision was reversed and journalists were told that Trump’s remarks were on the record.

Trump’s own aides didn’t seem to know that Trump was going to take formal questions with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer calling on reporters.

All reporters who spoke to The Mirror for this story chatted on condition of anonymity. Considering their daily jobs could be greatly impacted by speaking on the record, I readily honored the agreement.

“So yeah. I think that the way the White House handled it was awful,” an attendee told me Tuesday. “It’s clear that there’s a few Never Trumpers that are working on the communications team at the White House.”

The source said reporters were inaccurately told that the room was a SCIF [Secure Compartmentalized Information Facility]. “We were told it was on background,” the individual said. “So most of us were not furiously scribbling quotes from the president because we couldn’t record it.”

Other presidents have held press conferences in the Roosevelt Room.

“Point is, we had no way other way [to obtain the information unless] we were scribbling,” the source said. “Generally speaking, a background thing is very different than on the record. At the end, they announced that we could use what the president said on the record. This wasn’t handled right.”

But worse than that, there’s this: “I think there are people inside the administration that do not have the president’s best interests and are not trying to implement the agenda that he campaigned on to win,” the source told me.

The partygoer questioned why Trump hasn’t, for example, granted The Daily Caller‘s White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins an interview.

“Where is Kaitlan Collins’ interview with the president, the vice president?” the attendee asked. “Why not? Why hasn’t LifeZette gotten more? Why do they keep running to The New York Times, Reuters, and The Washington Post. I’m not saying they shouldn’t [go to] those places, but they should talk to the places that actually know the Trump phenomenon.”

But not all the journalists who went felt slighted by the one on approximately 30 proportions of the event.

“LMAO,” a reporter who attended told The Mirror. “No. It was way more lovey. People were cracking up at Trump and whatnot. A lot of people wrote quotes down. It wasn’t hostile at all. Very laid back. I didn’t hear any complaints. It was a one on 50 or so with the president for God’s sake. People were thrilled.”

My other source landed somewhere in the middle of the complaining.

“We didn’t mingle with the senior staff,” another attendee informed me. [Steve] Bannon, [Reince] Priebus, [Jared] Kushner and Wilbur Ross all showed up when the president did, and left at the same time. We never had a chance to talk to them.”
On a brighter note, “The White House communications staff did work the room for the half hour before Trump showed up, and Spicer stuck around for a little at the end, too.”
This last partygoer said making reporters surrender their phones was “inconvenient, considering the meeting was advertised as ‘on background.’ It’s obviously a little more challenging to accurately capture the news without a recording. Some reporters were clearly prepared for that, and brought good old pen and paper to take notes. Unfortunately, nobody knows shorthand anymore, so we all only have fragments of the exchange.”
So mixed reviews. But what good party doesn’t have a little drama?