trump vs the media
August 10, 2019

A plan concocted by President Trump's aides concerning his visits this week to El Paso and Dayton — both sites of mass shootings last weekend — backfired, The New York Times reports.

Trump's staff reportedly kept reporters away from the president during his visit, mainly to avoid overwhelming patients in recovery, three people briefed on what took place told the Times. But when Trump began noticing negative headlines about his trip while watching television on Air Force One, he reportedly grew furious, ordering his aides to begin producing proof that people were, in fact, happy to see him.

So, the aides began distributing photos and video of Trump posing with doctors, nurses, and family members, including one photo in which he's giving a thumbs up while standing alongside the brother of a victim, who says he began receiving hate calls after the photograph circulated. A White House official told the Times that Trump was not being insensitive, but rather showing his "authentic" self, by being approachable and supportive, while posing for the photograph.

Regardless, the Times notes that the situation was in line with the idea that Trump is highly reactive to news coverage and is very desirous of accolades when he thinks he does something that deserves praise. Read more at The New York Times. Tim O'Donnell

October 1, 2018

President Trump took questions from reporters following his Monday announcement of a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico, but not every interaction went smoothly.

Calling on ABC News' Cecilia Vega, Trump waited while she stood up and was handed a microphone.

"She's shocked that I picked her, she's like in a state of shock," Trump said while he waited for her question. Standing up, Vega clarified: "I'm not, thank you, Mr. President." Whether he misheard her or was simply determined to characterize the moment as a fumble, Trump continued. "That's okay, I know you're not thinking," he said. "You never do."

Vega answered in surprise, but Trump then urged her to "go ahead." Watch the moment below, via BuzzFeed News. Summer Meza

May 4, 2018

President Trump made sure not to miss an opportunity to use his favorite phrase: "fake news."

Trump slammed NBC News in a Friday tweet that referenced a correction that the network issued regarding a report that attorney Michael Cohen was wiretapped.

"NBC NEWS is wrong again!" he tweeted. On Thursday, NBC News walked back a story that had originally cited anonymous sources who said Cohen's phones were being recorded by prosecutors. In issuing a correction, NBC News reporter Julia Ainsley clarified that Cohen's calls were being monitored but not listened to. Prosecutors are reportedly keeping track of Cohen's phone calls, making note of who he communicates with, but they aren't recording the content of his conversations. The correction explained that two sources had told NBC News of the wiretap, then three other anonymous officials had stepped forward to say investigators were merely logging calls.

Trump, who frequently attacks media outlets for reporting what he believes to be false or misleading stories, made sure to pile onto the criticism of NBC News. "They cite 'sources' which are constantly wrong," he wrote. "Problem is, like so many others, the sources probably don't exist, they are fabricated, fiction!" He went on to say that NBC News was "as bad as Fake News CNN," one of his other frequent targets. Summer Meza

December 26, 2017

President Trump composed many memorable tweets in 2017, although his most retweeted message of the year rises above the rest in terms of the sheer oddity of it coming from the president of the United States:

The June tweet of a gif of Trump beating up a man with a CNN logo covering his face was retweeted more than 362,000 times, the Washington Examiner reports. That's more than even Trump's accidental splutter of "covfefe," which has been retweeted 127,000 times since it was fired off in May.

CNN lashed back at Trump's wrestling gif at the time, calling it a "sad day when the president of the United States encourages violence against reporters." Read a full list of Trump's most amplified tweets at the Washington Examiner. Jeva Lange

July 12, 2017

President Trump's first non-Fox News interview in more than two months will be with Christian Broadcasting Network's Pat Robertson, Mediaite reports. Trump was reportedly interviewed by CBN at the White House on Wednesday morning, with the clip to air on The 700 Club on Thursday.

Trump has been criticized for favoring outlets that are friendly to his administration, and CBN is no different. "Early on in his presidency, Trump gave the Christian station an interview and the channel's reporters were given questions at early news conferences, much to the consternation of mainstream news agencies," Mediaite reports. In June, Trump gave a Fox & Friends interview that was slammed by CNN as being an "infomercial" that was "all about showering Trump with positive attention and burying his perceived opponents with negative attention."

CBN teased that Trump talked about North Korea, terrorism, health-care reform, taxes, and religious liberty, and he apparently reassuringly "differentiated his administration from Putin's, saying he's working for America's best interests while Putin is fighting for Russia." Read more about the interview at CBN. Jeva Lange

March 13, 2017

At what point does regular old incompetence become an elaborate troll game? Perplexed and frustrated White House correspondents are attempting to define that surprisingly fine line. While tradition and journalistic reliability have for years dictated which organizations can ask questions at White House press briefings, the Trump administration has opened the floodgates by inviting right-wing bloggers and other Trump-friendly outlets, such as the one run by 19-year-old Kyle Mazza, the sole reporter of UNF News, which "owns no bandwidth on TV or radio," The New Yorker reports.

While some reporters said they appreciate the mix of geographic and ideological diversity that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has introduced to the room, Sirius XM's Jared Rizzi added: "I don't appreciate diversity of journalistic practice."

“There's an adjustment period with any new administration," explained a producer from a foreign news service to The New Yorker. “But with this one it can be hard to tell what's just incompetence and what's them intentionally messing with us.”

The trolling theory is widespread — a TV correspondent told The New Yorker that the Trump administration is throwing the predictability of the briefings into an orchestrated "chaos."

"'Maybe you'll get a question, if you shout loud enough, who knows?' — makes everyone desperate and competitive and makes us look like a bunch of braying jackals," the correspondent said, "which I don't think is an accident.”

Read more about how the Trump White House is shaking up press briefings at The New Yorker. Jeva Lange

February 24, 2017

The White House blocked several major news organizations from an informal, off-camera briefing Friday in White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer's office, sparking protest and outrage from the White House Correspondents' Association as well as other outlets. CNN, The New York Times, Politico, the Los Angeles Times, BuzzFeed, and much of the foreign press were not allowed in the room, CNN's Elizabeth Landers reports, although conservative outlets including Breitbart, The Washington Times, and One America News Network were allowed to attend. Networks including NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox were also included.

Reporters from The Associated Press and Time boycotted the press gaggle in protest of their colleagues' exclusion.

In a statement, the White House Correspondents' Association wrote that the board is "protesting strongly against how today's gaggle is being handled by the White House. We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff."

On Thursday, chief strategist Stephen Bannon warned at CPAC: "[The press] are corporatist globalist media that are adamantly opposed to a economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has. Here's where it's going to get worse. He's going to continue to press his agenda. And, as economic conditions get better, as more jobs get better, they're going to continue to fight. If you think they're going to give you their country back without a fight, you are sadly mistaken. Every day it is going to be a fight." Jeva Lange

February 24, 2017

President Trump slammed the media for protecting their confidential sources during his speech at CPAC on Friday morning. "They have no sources. They just make them up when there are none," Trump told the audience.

As evidence, Trump referred to a nine-source story written by The Washington Post that reported that former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn had discussed sanctions in phone calls with the Russian ambassador before President Trump's inauguration. Following the report, the White House confirmed Flynn's phone calls and his denial of them to Vice President Mike Pence, which resulted in his resignation:

"I know who they talked to," Trump told the audience. "There were no nine people."

Trump went on to say that journalists should not use anonymous sources in their reporting: "They shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use a name," Trump said. "Let their name be put out there ... Let them say it to my face."

Journalists use anonymous sources to allow people with knowledge of certain situations to speak freely on topics that they might not otherwise be able to discuss. "Anonymous sources are sometimes the only key to unlocking that big story, throwing back the curtain on corruption, fulfilling the journalistic missions of watchdog on the government and informant to the citizens," the Society of Professional Journalists writes.

Even many Republicans agree with these source protections. When he was an Indiana representative, Vice President Mike Pence fought to protect journalists and their sources. Forcing reporters to reveal their anonymous sources, he argued, "chills reporting of the news and restricts the free flow of information to the public." Jeva Lange

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