Why punishing the media will backfire on Trump
(CNN)The shocking decision by press secretary Sean Spicer to bar CNN, The New York Times, Buzzfeed, Politico and the Los Angeles Times from a news briefing Friday signals that, for all its bluster and bravado, the Trump White House is an administration under siege.
In the face of the President's many public misstatements, obvious financial conflicts of interest and troubling ties to Russia, the White House has decided to launch an all-out attack on the news organizations that reliably report on the administration's fables and foibles.
Expect to see the media close ranks and fight for the public's right to observe and report on government without fear of official retaliation. To their credit, the Associated Press and Time walked out of Spicer's briefing when it became clear he was trying to punish selected news outlets.
It's reminiscent of a 2009 incident in which the Obama White House tried to exclude Fox News from interviewing a newly-appointed administration official, Kenneth Feinberg -- and got a brusque reply from the bureau chiefs of ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC that they would skip planned interviews with Feinberg unless Fox was included.
That professional solidarity will likely reassert itself. The White House Correspondents Association has already announced plans to respond to Friday's antics.
But don't expect Trump's unhinged attacks on media to end anytime soon. He gave a typical rant at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Friday.
"I want you all to know that we are fighting the fake news," he said. "It's fake, phony, fake. They have a professional obligation as members of the press to report honestly. But as you saw throughout the entire campaign, and even now, the fake news doesn't tell the truth."
That's a slightly cleaned-up version of Trump's practice of calling the media "scum" at his campaign rallies. It echoes the recent statement by Trump's top strategist, Steve Bannon, who told the Times, "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for awhile," and, "The media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hard work."
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