This week I watched a press conference with President Donald Trump and a room full of the international press corps, and as one who has been watching presidential press conferences for the better part of my 80 years, I'll have to say that I've never seen anything like it.
First of all, Trump totally controlled the event from start to finish, called out media outlets for
what he considered dishonest coverage, refuted stories, networks and reporters, admonishing them to be honest in their coverage and just report the news instead of coloring it.
It seems most politicians fear the media, or at the very least they are afraid of offending their sensibilities resulting in negative coverage. Not so with Trump, who spoke his mind, refused to let the reporters gain any kind of control or authority and limited their questions when he felt they had said enough.
The Washington press corps has become a kind of entity of its own over the years, unchecked, and unrivaled, wielding the power of the pen over politicians who spin, twist and flavor the truth in an effort to curry favor and spring occasional leaks to stay in their good graces.
In this age when social media has far more traffic than most news media sites the press corps is no longer the only game in town, and Trump has made an art form out of going around the press and straight to the people without his statements and intentions being filtered through the mill of partisan opinion so prevalent in the media these days.
There was an instance that caught my attention yesterday, and it’s a good example of media bias and the failure to report the whole truth.
Reporter April Ryan asked the president if he intended to include the Black Congressional Caucus in his plans to help the inner cities. He replied that he'd been trying to set up a meeting with Elijah Cummings and that Cummings wouldn't meet with him for political reasons, whereupon he said in tongue-in-cheek fashion "Would you like to set up a meeting?" It was an obvious facetious remark meaning, "I've tried, do you want to give it a shot?"
I watched ABC evening news last night, and they tried to make it sound as if the president was actually trying to use reporters to set up meetings with Congress. And the name of Elijah Cummings, the focal point of the whole conversation, was never even mentioned.
I, for one, liked the press conference conducted in the way it was done. The media likes to play "gotcha" with loaded questions and pulling at inconsequential threads that tend to take the attention off of important issues the public needs to be kept abreast of, trying to lose some scrap of sensationalism many times resulting in asking the same question over and over again.
I also like the fact that a president, or anyone else for that matter, can take their case straight to the people in concise, uncomplicated language as often as they see fit.
Another thing I like about this White House approach to media is that the crème de la crème is basically treated like everybody else, with reporters from smaller circulation, heartland publications being called on, and even a Skype capability being used so those who can't be there in person can participate.
Of course, big media – used to being treated like royalty – really don't like this, being treated like a part of the press corps rather than the privileged scions they consider themselves to be.
It’s a new day in news coverage, and it can no longer be controlled by the handful of networks and major city newspapers.
It's scattered all over the place from social media to a president who conducts his pressers in his own way and is not afraid of the Fourth Estate, not a bit.
What do you think?
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Charlie Daniels is a legendary American singer, song writer, guitarist, and fiddler famous for his contributions to country and southern rock music. Daniels has been active as a singer since the early 1950s. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on January 24, 2008.