For cripes sake, don’t do it. The sermonizing and sanctimony over the sainted Fourth Estate in the aftermath would be insufferable. But if they must do it, let it come replete with an official presidential decree declaring CNN “FAKE NEWS!” That would make the daily Jake Tapper “special comment” on “The Lead” extra zesty.
Alternate headline: “Trump approval rises by double digits among Republicans.”
The biggest shift Mr. Trump is discussing is a dramatic change to the briefing room schedule, including limiting briefings that he has described as a “spectacle” to once a week and asking reporters to submit written questions. Some of Mr. Trump’s outside advisers, including the Fox News host Sean Hannity, have urged him to curtail the freewheeling — and often embarrassing — barrage of questions. Mr. Trump has been particularly irked by CNN, and other allies such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have suggested banning the cable network.
“Donald Trump might as well get behind the podium himself, as the press coverage is the part of his presidency he cares the most deeply about,” said Tim Miller, who was communications director for Jeb Bush’s 2016 presidential campaign. “You can’t be a credible press secretary when your boss makes you tell preposterous lies. You can’t be a credible press secretary when you don’t know what your boss thinks on key issues because he changes his mind depending on the last person he talked to.”
I don’t get it. Why does Newt think CNN has it in for Trump?
— John Cardillo (@johncardillo) June 21, 2017
Ah well. This is actually a climbdown for Gingrich, who argued last month for shutting down the White House press room entirely. Either he’s decided that’s a bridge too far and only the worst offenders should be punished or he’s hit upon this as a cunning backdoor way to shut down the briefing. After all, if CNN is banned, other news outlets will boycott the briefing in solidarity. it’s happened before, after all. That’ll put right-wing outlets, most notably Fox, in a bind: Do they join the boycott, which will piss off their CNN-hating viewers, or do they defy it and attend the briefings, which will piss off their media colleagues? If conservative media boycotts, Gingrich gets his wish: The briefing will be canceled with no one attending and Trump can claim that it’s the press, not him, that’s responsible for shutting it down. If conservative media doesn’t boycott, Spicer or whoever ends up as the new press secretary would have a friendly (or friendlier) group in front of him posing questions.
If they do it, though, they need to be prepared to have their bluff called. If the media walks out in unison over CNN’s banning and Trump caves by letting the network back in, that would be very, very low energy.
Honestly, after Monday’s performance, I think Jim Acosta would be stoked to lead a walkout of the daily briefing. This marriage is headed for divorce. Trump might as well issue the decree.