Scaramucci idea: How about a state-run morning talk show hosted on the White House lawn?
Looks like we might end up with Trump TV after all. I’m not being snarky in asking this: Why would he consider this when Trump already has “Fox & Friends”? If the White House needs a friendly forum with a large sympathetic audience to spread talking points early in the day, they’ve got that ready-made on a major cable network. Building an official White House TV platform isn’t worth the grief it’ll earn Trump and Scaramucci from critics who’d view that, not incorrectly, as a step towards banana-republicanism.
This is a logical consequence of the “fake news” phenomenon, though. If real news is “fake,” fake news will be sold as real. Which maybe was the point all along.
In private, Scaramucci seemed to have at least entertained the idea of the top communications post since June. Speaking at former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s private retreat in Deer Valley, Utah, last month, Scaramucci said that he believed the White House was faltering in part because the communications director job was empty and that communicating directly with the public was the key imperative of this White House, according to one attendee.
If he were in the role, Scaramucci continued, he would consider starting a daily administration “television” broadcast at 7 a.m., complete with a desk on the White House lawn and guests that included Democratic leaders.
“I like Anthony, but Pelosi and Schumer aren’t going on his state-run morning show,” the attendee said, referring to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.). The attendee spoke on the condition of anonymity to share details of a private discussion.
First obvious objection: “CNN is devoted to pushing a Democratic anti-Trump message. Why shouldn’t the White House fight back?” The answer is that “fighting back” in this way would normalize state-run political media, a terrible idea even as a counterpoint to an independent media that’s frequently unfair. It’ll devolve into out-and-out government propaganda sooner rather than later, if not immediately, and that’ll be used in the future to justify or obscure state abuses. For all of its Trump-shilling, Fox still employs journalists willing to hold the White House to account if it errs; a White House broadcast wouldn’t do that, needless to say. It’s anathema to good government, and obviously would be exploited by the next Democratic president to push his/her own propaganda. And as I say, if you’ve got Fox and possibly another new conservative network coming soon to push the right-wing point of view, you already have market options for an alternative to CNN and MSNBC. There’s no left-wing monopoly here that the White House needs to bust with a “public option.”
Second obvious objection: “The president speaks directly to the people all the time. How is this any different?” It’s hard to answer definitively without seeing exactly what Scaramucci has in mind but the fact that he wants a desk on the lawn and a regular daily schedule for the “broadcast” makes it sound like he’s imagining an ersatz news program, not a traditional statement or briefing. White House communiques almost always involve the president (or an aide) speaking directly to the camera from a podium or answering questions. There’s no mistaking them for news broadcasts and they don’t happen regularly apart from the daily briefing, in which the White House is pitted against independent media. Scaramucci’s concept seems aimed at blurring that line. Would he have a fake “anchor” covering “stories” at the desk, or would he have someone interviewing friendly commentators to create the false sense that what’s actually a coordinated message is part of some vaguely adversarial Q&A between two independent actors? Right, right, that’s not all that different from what “Fox & Friends” and “Hannity” do now, but the fact remains that the hosts of those shows retain the ability to call out their White House guests at any time. That wouldn’t be so on Scaramucci’s program, but I bet it would be designed to make it look like it would be so. That’s fake news, literally.
In lieu of an exit question, since we’re on the topic of cable news, here’s an eye-opening stat. Steve Deace is right: Trump is doing for MSNBC what Obama did for gun sales.