KASSAM: The White House Should Never Hold A Press Briefing Again


Raheem Kassam Contributor
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At peak hubris, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton had not held a press conference in 278 days. There was a plea of ignorance from the media at the time — “we didn’t realize it had been so long!” but that was about the extent of the criticism aimed at the 2016 loser.

It has been around 30 days since a Sarah Sanders-led, White House press conference, but the entire nation’s media are already up in arms about it.

Is it because they learned the lessons of not having held Clinton to account during the campaign? Fat chance. No establishment journalist regrets the kid-gloves with which they treated Mrs. C. Most of them wish they had tried harder to help her.

Is it because the White House is quite different from the campaign and it is therefore more serious when Team Trump ignores the caterwauling of the press? Can’t be, since they were all convinced Hillary was about to take residence in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and they didn’t apply said rules to her.

So I suppose it must just be that good old fashioned bias again, right?

Certainly that is a foundational part of the mental process when, say, a New York Times editor commissions an article, written by two journalists, along with a couple of bar charts thrown in so you can visualize the betrayal of the American people by the Trump administration as well!

(Word of caution for the grey lady: if it takes two journalists to write 303 words, you’re getting gypped).

The truth about the outrage is more corporate than simple allegations of bias.

It’s a truth the Times lets slip in its first paragraph: “White House press briefings during the Trump administration have gone from must-see TV to practically cancelled after just two seasons.” Lazy political news reporters became reliant in 2017/18 on the pizzazz of the early Trump-era press conferences. First came the breathless defenses of Sean Spicer, who lovable as he is, never looked comfortable in the press briefing room.

Then “the Mooch” sauntered his way up to the podium, blowing kisses before being fired for suggesting his colleagues were blowing themselves.

Finally and currently, we have Sarah Sanders — a formidable force at the microphone despite the perverse attempts by Abilio Acosta (that’s CNN Jim’s real name) to make it the Abilio Acosta show.

Sanders’s no nonsense approach to press briefings has whittled away at the boisterousness of loud mouth reporters trying to catch their CEO’s eyes on the news. As a result, she’s whittled away at cable news ratings over the past year, too.

Nielsen ratings for 2018 reveal that Fox News gained in total viewership by one percent, while CNN dropped a not insignificant 6 percent year on year.

CNN based much of their daytime business model on the build up to, the airing of, and the 8-person-panel takedowns surrounding the White House press conference. They made an entire industry out of political talking heads. They even invited me on once, which, like most of my ex girlfriends, they soon regretted.

The whole thing is even more upsetting to them because the American public, in spite of the internet, keeps telling researchers on the matter that they still prefer to consume news on television than from anywhere else.

Forty-four percent of U.S. adults told Pew Research they like TV over the internet (34 percent), radio (14 percent), and print (7 percent). The big, predicted swing to the web is more like a slow inching. TV is a more compelling medium.

It’s the reason even print publications like the New York Times have CNN’s back. Because they want you to see “the lies” in real time. Then the NYT et. al. can swoop in the next day with thousand-word ad nauseam editorials about the “character of the president.”

The problem they now face is that this president a) knows television (and what gets ratings); b) understands the news networks’ business models and; c) ain’t taking their B.S. anymore.

Sorry to be so crude about it, but that’s the rub.

The conceit of journalists has created the “crisis” of transparency they keep telling us exists. Meanwhile, the president will just continue to go around them, via Twitter or otherwise. In the long run, who wins that war? I would cornily argue “the truth” does. As the furor surrounding the Covington Catholic school children has reminded us, the media is a cesspit of bad actors, liars, and creeps.

As far as I am concerned, this White House should never hold another press conference again. In fact, change the press briefing room into a crèche. At least then Acosta will still be able to make use of it.

Raheem Kassam (@RaheemKassam) is a fellow at the Claremont Institute and the Middle East Forum. He is the author of two bestselling books: “No Go Zones” and “Enoch Was Right.”

The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.