Trump’s disdain for the American media is not because they lack veracity. It’s because any demagogue would be threatened by a free press’s ability to find and deploy the truth.

By Andrew J. Pridgen

One of the first things a president-elect does is familiarize himself with the White House Press Corps. The corps is a rotating group of journalists stationed at the White House specifically tasked to cover the comings and goings of and the decisions made by the President of the United States. They are also given regular updates on White House events, and filled in with daily news briefings hosted by the White House Press Secretary.

The physical press room hosts 49 reporters in a hierarchical fashion, representatives from the bigger or most established news organizations occupy the first couple rows and the littler guys usually stand in the back by the decaf canister. Seating arrangements can change based on the president. Oftentimes, members of the press corps are on a first-name basis with the press secretary or the POTUS, or both.

There is a kind of healthy skepticism that marks the initial relationship and a trust that is built over time. But it starts with the president-elect. In early days, any and every president-elect has reached out and made himself available; the questions and queries are usually softballs at first. There is a honeymoon period, a get-to-know-you time, coffee for the first date and then moving on to drinks, maybe dinner and…we’ll see what happens after that.

Establishing those relationships early then building on them is ever important to the transfer of power and continuation of our form of governance. Because when times of crisis arrive (and they do come swiftly and unexpectedly) there is a foundation there as well as an empathy—not to mention checks and balances. See: The press corps and George W. Bush in the immediate wake of 9/11.

Then there’s president-elect Donald Trump who is content with excoriating the press from the top down, interfering with the free press’s ability to do business and trying to debase it 140 characters at a time in the wee hours of the morning. Instead of doing his due diligence and reaching out, he and his team are busy organizing pep rallies for white supremacists and filming infomercials/writing SNL’s next cold opener for them.

Trump this week has remained stashed away at the top of his black castle like a STD-addled Sauron and continues to do what he does best: tweeting in anger and lashing out at established, credible media calling them names and, well, lying about pretty much everything…until he changes his mind. Then lying some more…until he changes his mind.

The most recent flurry started Monday evening and stretched into Tuesday morning:

…Crooked media? No. That’s the unbiased media covering a man who is using a private line and newfound power to call up world leaders and chop it up about the places he does business. I mean, really, this tweet alone points out the deal-killing conflict of interest inherent in this regime.

Followed by his daily feud with his hometown paper:

Then a roll back 16 minutes later:

Then a just kidding “you still suck” five minutes after that:

Followed by just kidding, just kidding…Meeting is back on!

This late-night/early morning tweet riff (resulting in Press in the Era of Trump trending) came on the heels of an unprecedented closed-door/off the record meeting yesterday where his highness the color that nothing rhymes (or goes) with decided to dress down top brass and talking heads from ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN and Fox News as if they were Vince Neil failing at the task of selling popsicles made from Tommy Lee’s sweat on the Upper East Side for Celebrity Apprentice.

Those who got the call to kiss the tiny ring included Fox News’ Bill Shine, Jack Abernethy, Jay Wallace, Suzanne Scott and Brian Jones; CNN’s Jeff Zucker, Wolf Blitzer and Erin Burnett. Charlie Rose sans big round table was in the house as was John Dickerson, Norah O’Donnell and Gayle King of CBS. NBC’s Deborah Turness, Lester Holt, Chuck Todd and Phil Griffin; and ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Martha Raddatz and David Muir were all there too.

The 75-minute meeting was characterized by Trump’s Goneril, Kellyanne Conway, as “very productive. Congenial. But it was also very candid and honest.”

Mind you, those are the same words Conway once used to describe Kristallnacht.

The meeting was said to have been a “fucking firing squad,” said a source who requested anonymity. “Trump started with [CNN chief] Jeff Zucker and said ‘I hate your network, everyone at CNN is a liar and you should be ashamed.’”

Sarah Kendzior, a political writer from Missouri who has a PhD in anthropology and is a specialist in dictatorships, broke down the way a Trump administration is already manipulating the media like dictator (as one of his many, many…many dictatorial red flags) as well as his ultimate end game in this recent must-read/listen interview with Who.What.Why: “Many of the things that Trump did throughout his campaign reminded me very much of the dictators that I’ve studied in terms of his demagoguery, his use of spectacle, manipulation of the media and his manipulation of the masses.”

To use and abuse powers for personal financial gain for himself, his family and his immediate friends and surrogates while everyone else can grab ankles and Make America Great Again by scapegoating minorities and kicking anyone on the rung just beneath you is Trump’s only real policy/plan in place to date.

Skewering, insulting and manipulating the media to do his bidding has worked thus far. Why would that not continue? Especially if they are going to continue to let him do it on his own terms and on his own turf.

My advice to ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, Fox News…and the New York Times: Don’t take his meetings. Report exclusively on Trump’s recent eight-figure fraud settlement and his many, many, many conflicts of interest attempting to score business deals from on high—until which time he is able to peel himself from his old-man-fart-smelling leather chair and starts acting like the leader he claims to be.

Until then, you are doing nothing but kowtowing to the stream-of-consciousness whims of the failed tie salesman-elect.

Andrew J. Pridgen is the author of “Burgundy Upholstery Sky”.

 

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