There was a bit of a brouhaha right before Friday’s White House briefing involving a decision by the Trump Administration to let Gateway Pundit’s Lucian Wintrich have a press pass.
Fox News Radio John Decker just loudly told everyone in briefing room that Gateway Pundit is here "they hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics." Wild
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) March 10, 2017
A fuller description of what happened was reported over at Politico:
As reporters were getting settled ahead of Friday’s briefing, the Fox correspondent Jon Decker pointed out that a reporter from Gateway Pundit, Lucian Wintrich, was in the room and that they “hate blacks, Jews, Hispanics,” according to BuzzFeed White House correspondent Adrian Carrasquillo, who tweeted about the incident.
Decker also sent an email to the entire White House reporter email listserv, noting that the White House “has admitted Gateway Pundit into today’s White House Press Briefing.”
While some in the White House briefing room say the White House should be open to any and all outlets, others have expressed concern with certain outlets being legitimized via their White House credentials.
Fox News confirmed Decker was reacting to previous tweets Wintrich had posted. According to a White House Correspondent in the room, several reporters shook Decker’s hands as he walked back to the Fox News radio booth.
Both Wintrich and Gateway Pundit owner Jim Hoft are claiming Decker actually assaulted Wintrich, although Fox News, Decker, and several witnesses have said that wasn’t the case. There’s no video of what happened, which means it’s a he said/he said situation. If Decker did assault Wintrich, he deserves to be fired and prosecuted. If he didn’t, then Decker should skate on charges. He should still be reprimanded for his unprofessional actions towards Wintrich.
The problem with all these claims of assault is it’s taking away from the actual discussion which should happen: press freedom.
I wrote a couple weeks ago that I believed biased press was free press. This confrontation between Decker and Wintrich is another example of the importance of a free press. Yes, Gateway Pundit has published manipulative news before, including claiming a group of female media members who wanted Corey Lewandowski fired were Ted Cruz supporters (at least two of the journalists who signed the letter were not Cruz supporters, but libertarians). Hoft has also made some really bizarre claims about former friend Dana Loesch, which don’t hold water at all. His site isn’t somewhere I go to get my news and opinion.
But Gateway Pundit has every right to have someone at White House press briefings, just like Fox, NBC, CBS, etc. Gateway Pundit is going to write pro-Trump articles, and that’s perfectly fine. Freedom of the press means biased press is perfectly fine in this country (even if it’s conspiracy theorist nonsense). This is why I’m quite disturbed by how some reporters in the briefing room reacted to the Decker/Wintrich confrontation. Via Politico:
“Props to Jon Decker for speaking up in the press room. It would be much harder for a minority reporter to speak up like he did,” the correspondent said. “As a member of the WHCA board and as a white man him standing up and saying that meant a lot to reporters in the room.”
The Washington Post’s Paul Farhi also questioned the notion of biased press after The Heritage Foundation’s The Daily Signal did pool reports for Vice President Mike Pence.
The Daily Signal’s inclusion in the pool could set a precedent for other advocacy organizations, such as the liberal Center for American Progress, that have expanded into newsgathering. These groups could argue that they, too, qualify for White House press credentials and pool shifts. The slope could become even more slippery if extremist or racist organizations sought similar status.
The notion biased press outlets shouldn’t be involved in covering the White House is absolutely ridiculous. Let them in, and let them cover pool shifts. If WHCA is worried about what kind of stuff will be given to other outlets, then they should start sending two press agencies to do pool. Or figure out some other way for reporters to get what was said. This is going to be a tough pill for the networks to accept, but ThinkProgress, Gateway Pundit, Media Matters, Mother Jones, Daily Wire, Hot Air, Reason, etc. all have the right to send someone to White House press briefings.
AP posted Remy’s “fake news” video on Friday, and Remy is absolutely, positively correct. The press should just be open, and honest about their biases. Let the consumer decide where they want to get their news and commentary. If it means the networks start falling apart because no one wants to watch or read them…well…that’s on them. The nature of news is changing, and going back to colonial times where almost anyone could publish pamphlets for people to read. The Internet Age is bringing that idea back. The networks are just going to have to adapt and change their business model. That’s the free market and free press at work.