The Trump administration and the press have started off their relationship with a large amount of antagonism, but is it this bad? “I particularly watch interviews when you’re on or Reince is on,” Sean Hannity told Kellyanne Conway last night on Fox, “and it’s pretty hostile. … Do you find that the media is being particularly hostile, and is there a difference between the way they treated President Obama, candidate Hillary Clinton, and President Donald Trump?”
If you guess that the answer is yes, you probably only place bets on the favorites. But Conway goes beyond that to say that she now requires Secret Service protection because of the media coverage she gets:
— Fox News (@FoxNews) January 24, 2017
Top President Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway has received mail with a suspicious white powder in them and has been assigned Secret Service protection, she told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Monday night.
“Because of what the press is doing now to me, I have Secret Service protection,” Conway said, citing the way the media has covered her boss as the reason for the threats. “We have packages delivered to my house with white substances. That is a shame.”
Conway said the need for a security detail stems from the media coverage of Trump and his administration, though she did not say whether anyone else in the Trump administration has received similar pieces of mail.
Conway would have almost certainly gotten Secret Service protection regardless of her coverage. The Hill notes in its coverage of this interview that both Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod got Secret Service protection, the latter until he left in the White House. That’s part of the package when one works for a president in a high-profile position, which Conway certainly does. And part of the reason why is because that high profile attracts the nuts who send white powder in the mail, and try to do worse. That may be less a function of tilted media coverage than just the scope of her coverage.
However, that’s not to dismiss the complaint out of hand, either. The media has been quick to jump to conclusions, both on policy and personal issues, without waiting for the facts to unfold first. In the case of the Buzzfeed dossier, they published what looks like mostly utter nonsense despite their inability to verify the contents, which ended up arguably doing the job that a potential disinformation campaign would have intended from the start. In comparison, the MLK bust error was a minor annoyance, and the pooler (Time’s Zeke Miller) did apologize directly to Sean Spicer after correcting the error and taking responsibility for it.
It’s not irrational, especially after the campaign and the post-election coverage, for Conway and the incoming Trump staff to feel under siege. That’s a pretty fair assessment, especially with the media holding symposiums on how to get tough on Trump — an effort they notably didn’t feel the need to strategize over the last eight years, even with the Obama administration going after reporters in leak investigations. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much what Republican presidents and their administrations experience on a routine basis. The trick is to remain assertive without being unnecessarily provocative, a balancing act at which the White House seemed to improve over the weekend.
Conway also tells Hannity that the press and the administration will need to come to some sort of accommodation with each other, since they’ll be stuck together for, er, eight years:
Kellyanne Conway: "White House & media are going to share joint custody of this nation for 8 years. We ought to figure out how to co-parent"
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) January 24, 2017
Eight years? Well, they do have a four-year lease with an option to renew, and it’s usually the case that an incumbent gets a second term. I’m not sure how well the media will cooperate in joint custody of the electorate, however; they’re interested in full custody, while only allowing visitation under their supervision. Actually, I’d be a lot more worried if the media partnered with the White House to “co-parent” the nation — like we’ve experienced over the last eight years. Let the media and administration both deal honestly with each other and us, and that’ll be enough.
Here’s the complete interview. Conway still makes it clear that she’s been Donald Trump’s best hire over the last two years in terms of the campaign.