Sunday, Robert Reich published an opinion piece explaining how Donald Trump’s election heralds dark times ahead for democracy and freedom of the press.
Published Sunday, Reich starts the piece:
‘Tyrants don’t allow open questioning, and they hate the free press. They want total control.’
According to three senior officials with the Trump transition team, the Trump administration will likely evict the White House press corps from their current spot in the White House press room and move them to an old conference center. It’s not a logistics matter, the White House’s “press room” is very accommodating, with work stations, broadcast booths, and the briefing area for new conferences. The press room has existed and has been filled with reporters since 1901 when Teddy Roosevelt was president of the United States.
As Reich puts it:
‘But, we’re in a new era, the reign of King Trump.’
Donald Trump’s press secretary, the ever-abrupt Sean Spicer, has admitted that there has been talk about moving the press to a new location, effectively evicting the press from the White House. Spicer says that it’s an issue of requiring a larger space to hold more press personnel, but it’s certainly not required and still does not explain why it needs to happen now.
Reich sees through Spicer’ placating words and says:
‘Rubbish. It’s because a larger room would allow the administration to fill seats with alt-right fringe journalists, rightwing social media, Trump supporters and paid staffers. They’d be there to ask the questions Trump wants to answer, and to jeer at reporters who ask critical questions and applaud Trump’s answers.’
It’s a strategic move on the part of the Trump administration to put the president-elect in a position to play the crowd, something he became very comfortable with throughout his presidential campaign.
The same thing happened during Trump’s first press conference in six months, held Jan. 11. Trump talked over a senior CNN reporter at that press conference, refusing to answer his questions, and insisting CNN was “fake news.”
Reich insists that this wasn’t an actual press conference, it was a fake news conference, and it took place in an auditorium.
According to Reich:
‘In the audience were paid staffers who jeered and snickered when reporters asked critical questions, and cheered every time Trump delivered one of his campaign zingers. It could easily have been one of his rallies.’
In the crowded, out-of-order atmosphere, it was easier for Trump to avoid questions from reporters that belong to news outlets that have dared to criticize him.
A round-up of the major news outlets that Trump insulted during his first press conference as president consists of CNN, Buzzfeed, and the BBC.
Trump repeatedly lied throughout the news conference but those lies went unchecked, as he wouldn’t allow the reporters follow up questions. Meanwhile, just like he did at his rallies, he continued to fire shots at the press, calling the media in general “dishonest” in a failed attempt to somehow discredit the press in the eyes of the public. Trump wants stories filled with easily provable facts about his shady past and present to be ignored by the citizens of the United States, and more importantly his followers.
In closing, Reich says:
‘The incoming Trump administration is intent on neutering the White house press corps. It it happens it will be another step toward neutering our democracy.’
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