If it’s possible for Trump’s media coverage to get worse, boarding up the briefing room in the White House would do it. But never mind that. Enjoy some prime, Grade A Republican red meat prepared by a master chef in the Fox News style preferred by serious media-hating right-wing connoisseurs. Trump’s been toying with canceling the daily briefing and replacing it with twice-monthly presidential press conferences. If he’s willing to go that far, Newt implies, why not go the rest of the way and maximize the antagonism by kicking the media out of the White House altogether?
“I am personally offended by the American news media. I think it is destructive and disgusting. It is a danger to the country right now,” Gingrich said. He also said the press should be banished to a nearby Starbucks and that Spicer should take questions from the American people. “Just say to the American people, you get to choose,” Gingrich said.
Closing the press briefing room would send a message to the country “that the media is a corrupt institution and he is tired of being harassed by people whose only interest is making him look bad.”…
“There are people here [in Kiev, where Gingrich is visiting] who read this crap and thinks we should be afraid. You have a national defense team of Mattis, Kelly and Tillerson. This is the best team since Eisenhower,” he said.
“These people around the world read you as though you’re real,” he said. “The damage the news media is doing to the United States is despicable.”
I think President Newt would do it, not just out of spite but as strategy. Trump needs to hold on to his base as daily news bombshells about Comey and Russia are bursting around him. One way is to make the media more of an enemy to Republican voters than it is. He’s already prepared the ground for a move like the one Gingrich suggests, warning his fans that all negative polls are “fake news” and declaring the “fake news media” enemies of the people. The next step logically is expurgation from the White House. The press and their friends on the left will go nuts about impending dictatorship, the right will cheer that it finally has a leader with the balls to punish the media for routinely treating Republicans unfairly. Everyone wins. And meanwhile Trump and his staff will still be leaking nonstop to reporters. The public perception would be that journalists had lost access, but the reality is that access would simply go further underground. The war on “fake news” is, after all, itself fake. Trump could never be apart from the media that gives his life purpose for very long.
And what if the news, or most of the news, isn’t fake? Kevin Williamson:
What is happening right now is not salubrious skepticism but a kind of mass hysteria, millions of heads plunging with struthioniform insistence into the same sand, as though insisting that reality is something other than what it is, or merely averting our gaze, would somehow alter the truth. Something has changed radically with remarkable speed. Not long ago, when I would inform someone that they had passed along an Internet hoax or erroneous claim (writers on public affairs spend a fair amount of their correspondence thus engaged) the response would be a sheepish “oops.” About once a week, someone will inform me that Hillary Rodham Clinton was disbarred for misconduct (she wasn’t) or that Barack Obama’s mother-in-law is receiving a six-figure federal pension for having babysat his children (she isn’t) or some other such nonsense, and then cry “fake news!” when corrected. The irony is that they have fallen for fake news, and retreat into “fake news!” when their gullibility is shown…
We owe it to ourselves to take account of reality. And we owe it to the country, too. It is cheap, it is cowardly, and it is bad citizenship to simply shriek “fake news!” every time reality forces a hard choice upon us.
Let me suggest a compromise between the status quo and shuttering the briefing room. How about Newt Gingrich for press secretary? He’s one of Trump’s most articulate defenders; he legitimately hates the media and would attack it with gusto every day; and he understands government intimately and could comment more intelligently on policy than Sean Spicer or Kim Guilfoyle or any other flack who might end up in the job. If the press has to sit through half-hour digressions about moon bases and Lean Six Sigma every day, well, that’s arguably harsher punishment than barring them from the White House would be. There’s no doubt Trump would be thrilled with Gingrich’s performance too. He’s complimented him publicly, remember, when Newt has clashed with reporters whom Trump especially dislikes. The logistics would be difficult with Mrs. Gingrich headed off to be the ambassador to the Vatican, but surely they’d tolerate being apart for a bit to serve the country in different roles.
The hitch is that … Newt simply wouldn’t do it, right? He’d be great at it. Trump would relish every minute of it. But in the end, press secretary isn’t an exalted enough job to attract a former Speaker. It’s a flunky’s job, and although Newt is a Trump flunky and has behaved conspicuously like one when he’s pissed Trump off, he probably doesn’t want to advertise it every day. Maybe the solution is for Trump to vacate the role of press secretary, make Newt a “senior advisor,” and then deputize him to address the press each afternoon. He’d have more stature than a PR guy even though he’d be operating essentially as a PR guy. It’d be must-see TV, every day.
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