May 9, 2019

Trump in Transition (v40)

Oh, this is just SO rich.

The president, who has been on the record as an enemy of a free press for his entire term, going back at least as far as when lied about the size of his manhood inauguration crowd and threw a fit when the press disproved his blatant false statement.

It has not slowed down, at all.

He loved the press when he was making a name for himself and his gold plated toilets and all that back in the day, but now that the press (other than the Trump News Network, of course) is no longer lapping up what he's dribbling, it's a different story.

The Trump administration equates boisterous, lie-filled, race-baiting political rallies and machine-gun-esque tweet storms and pre-flight gaggles as official communications and transparent dealings with the press, but doesn't like to hold actual press conferences where the people - that's you and me - are allowed, through the press corps, to get answers to some of our questions.

Why? Because administration officials either
  • don't like lying on behalf of the president any more, especially since we now know conclusively that they do that, or
  • they don't like being called out on their lies, or
  • they don't like having to answer questions,or even worse, having to answer followup questions, which you don't have to do on Twitter or Instagram, or
  • perhaps they're waiting for their emoji flash cards to come in, not sure. (They probably should have gotten a Prime membership.)
There have been two formal press briefings this year -- two official opportunities for the White House press corps to gather en masse and ask questions, all the while Press Secretary Sarah (Transparent and Honest) Sanders proclaims that this president is the most transparent and accessible ever in his dealings with the media. 

And so we come to this: the administration is revoking the 'hard pass' credentials of many reporters who cover the White House. The hard pass allows them access without additional scrutiny or delay for a two-year period; without it, they have to apply for entry, either for the day, the week, or for six months.  Hard passes are lost if a person hasn't been working at the White House "at least 50% of the time over the previous 180 days." Random exceptions are being granted, although there apparently aren't clear guidelines on what's worthy of one.

Access is not being limited to the Hannitys and Carlsons and Pirros and the Fox-and-Friendsers, of course -- because they are not reporters, and they don't participate as such.

They are the propaganda ministers of this administration, with unfettered, 24-7-365 access to the president, helping drive his #MakingAmericaHateAgain message and helping him swat away the information that's being reported by actual journalists.

The reason for this? It's about security, they say. It seems there is an unknown number of hard passes in circulation, which poses a security risk, according to Sanders.

Which is kind of comical, actually.
  • The Trump administration allowed people access to national security information without full and appropriate security clearances. 
  • They issued security clearances against the judgment of the people who make decisions on clearances for a living. 
  • They dealt with a foreign policy emergency in the public dining room of the president's money-making club, in full view of diners, who were seen taking photos of the goings-on. 
  • The president regularly charges the press as being the enemy of the people, which has inspired his followers to send bombs to media outlets, and more.

I don't pretend that all journalists are good ones, or that there isn't a bias in the media -- after all, "there are good people on both sides -- on both sides." Media outlets on the right of center tend to report one way, and those on the left of center tend to report a different way. But that doesn't make them our enemies - it challenges us to read with intention, to discern the unconscious or conscious bias, and to act accordingly.

We have the right and responsibility to determine what to believe.  And we have the right to have elected officials, most importantly the president, answer our questions. That's not a privilege, as this administration seems to think.

And nothing that this White House does in its dealings with the media - and by extension, with you and me - earn it the "transparent" or "honest" label, including this latest action.

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