The Trump White House has considered the national press to be an institutional enemy, and an institutional threat, from the first day of the administration. It has been absolutely clear in that, and has encouraged its fervent base to repeat and expand upon those declarations. Donald Trump continues to obsessively rage over any and all news reports that make him look bad, or expose something he said to be untrue, or relate facts that he simply doesn’t like. Addicted to his television set, he was from the beginning said to reliably watch each day’s White House press events to ensure each televised staff member looked good on camera, flattered him at every moment, and successfully rebuffed reporters who asked annoying or too-detailed questions.
Since ensuring all of that together is a well nigh impossible task for even the most gifted of liars, it was also said that his TV viewing very frequently resulted in Trump having a shouting fit after those press events. In staff efforts to not get screamed at, the events got less frequent; now they are nearly nonexistent. Press secretary Sarah Sanders no longer gives daily press briefings, choosing instead to hold impromptu declarations on the White House driveway before ducking back into the building and out of sight.
Still, every reporter who questioned Donald’s latest false claims was declared an enemy; every news outlet was declared crooked for publishing stories Donald didn’t like. After CNN’s Jim Acosta was briefly barred from events for being too hostile in his questioning, the White House made it clear that it would be reviewing just who would be “allowed” to ask questions of the White House at all.
That threat has now been made policy, as Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank writes.
I was part of a mass purge of “hard pass” holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all seven of The Post’s White House correspondents. White House officials then chose which journalists would be granted “exceptions.” It did this over objections from news organizations and the White House Correspondents’ Association.
The move is shamelessly transparent. The White House has imposed a new standard by which any reporter, camera operator, or other member of the press who has not entered the White House on at least 90 days out of the previous 180 is now no longer considered truly a “White House” journalist—a standard so onerous that none of even the staid Washington Post’s reporters could meet it. (This follows a rule permitting only one journalist per organization at most events, and only with prior registration, further culling the ranks of the qualified.) It then announced that “exemptions” to the rule would be granted on a case-by-case basis.
If the White House sees fit.
And if the journalist stays on good behavior.
Because each “exemption” can be rescinded at will, if Sarah Sanders does not like the tone of your questions, or if Donald gets wind that you asked them.
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