President Donald Trump attacked the press again Wednesday, threatening to “take away credentials.” And once again, his administration is conducting damage control and trying to distance itself from his remarks.
Wednesday morning he tweeted:
The Fake News is working overtime. Just reported that, despite the tremendous success we are having with the economy & all things else, 91% of the Network News about me is negative (Fake). Why do we work so hard in working with the media when it is corrupt? Take away credentials?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 9, 2018
At her daily press conference Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders assured reporters that the Trump administration is “committed to a free press,'”
The Hill reports:
Apparently ascribing to a new level of absurdity, she then said “this is one of the most accessible White Houses,” and said reporters agree with her on this.
“We are very committed to a free press and I think that we demonstrate that every single day,” she said.
And the administration demonstrates its commitment by slicing away press freedoms, like the Department of Justice did late last month when it put out a manual that specifically excised the subsection “Need for a Free Press and Public Trial.”
Her boss complains continually about reporters hurting his feelings and spreading “fake news,” and about how he’s not attending the White House Correspondents’ dinner because all those big mean correspondents are well, mean.
So, of course, Trump wants to take away credentials whenever a journalist has the temerity to make him look bad. Even though he’s generally the one making himself look bad.
At the briefing, one journalist asked if revoking credentials might be in the near future, and while Sanders didn’t negate this possibility, she did say it isn’t something the administration is looking to do:
“We are here, we are taking questions, we are doing everything we can to provide regular and constant information to the American people,” she told the press. “We are going to continue to try to work with you.”
Sanders took the time, however, to give the press a slap on the wrist for dispensing false reports:
“The press,” she said, “has the responsibility to put out accurate information.”
With that emphasis, she singled out a New York Times story that claimed shiny new Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was “AWOL” when Trump announced the U.S. was pulling out of the Iran nuclear deal. Pompeo, it turns out, was on his way to North Korea to negotiate the release of three Americans who’d been detained in the country.
Huckabee Sanders also criticized The Washington Post for reporting on a rumor that First Lady Melania Trump doesn’t reside at the White House. According to The Hill, this is something “her staff has strenuously denied.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA), is understandably unhappy with Trump’s suggestion, and WHCA president, Margaret Talev, who writes for Bloomberg, said so in a statement issued Wednesday:
“Some may excuse the president’s inflammatory rhetoric about the media, but just because the president does not like news coverage does not make it fake,” she wrote.
“A free press must be able to report on the good, the bad, the momentous and the mundane, without fear or favor. And a president preventing a free and independent press from covering the workings of our republic would be an unconscionable assault on the First Amendment.”
But Trump is only interested in something if it makes him look good. It’s abundantly clear by now that the First Amendment just isn’t something he’s into.
Here’s Wednesday’s press briefing in the video below.
Featured image by PBS NewsHour via YouTube video