“We’re dealing with a lot of the same things Clinton and frankly Bush dealt with but we’re dealing with them at 1000 times the speed and with fewer referees,” said Dan Pfeiffer, the White House communications director. “That is the downside of the disaggregation of the media. If you don’t want to believe what someone is telling you, you can go somewhere else. If you believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that the president is not American you can go somewhere to find somebody to validate that fact.”

Another top Obama adviser singled out some of the forces behind the new rules.

“Clinton never had to deal with a fully-formed internet,” said the adviser. “Drudge’s power was born out of the revelations of 1998. A fully automated cable TV universe with the internet is something that he never had to deal with.”

Joe Lockhart, who was President Clinton’s press secretary, said: “You’ve lost the ability to starve a story to death. So what you have to do is raise the price of those who are making the charges. If Donald Trump is out there saying this, you’ve got to make him pay a price for throwing a bomb before too much collateral damage is done.”…

“You literally can’t laugh anything off,” said Lockhart. “There’s nothing neutral in politics. It’s either helping you or hurting you. You’ve got to make sure it’s helping you or you’re going to lose.”