With the new year upon us, and the inauguration of President-elect Trump fast approaching, now is the perfect time to pause and consider what Press 2017 will look like. If last year is any indication, expect to see three things from the media: Hypocrisy. Pettiness. And Hypocritical Pettiness.
1. Why weren’t we invited?
Shortly after Trump’s election, he ended a busy day of meetings with a family meal at a nearby restaurant. When the press got wind that Trump hadn’t told them he was leaving the building, the media went berserk. This slight could not go unanswered—and it didn’t. The president of the White House Correspondences’ Association promptly dispatched a tersely-word statement:
“On Tuesday President-elect Trump went out for dinner in New York without a pool of journalists in his motorcade and after reporters were advised that he was in for the night. One week after the election, it is unacceptable for the next president of the United States to travel without a regular pool to record his movements and inform the public about his whereabouts.”
Now, I understand it is hard being left out. I was devastated when Pam didn’t invite me to her slumber party. But you know what? I. WAS. ELEVEN!
The press needs to grow up. But given that the media pines for a “relationship” with the POTUS—and has “enjoyed” a close bond with the Executive Branch for the last eight years—expect Press 2017 to resume its snit-fest when next snubbed by Trump.
2. Hey, that’s MY seat!
Up until a few years before her death, Helen Thomas served as a long-time fixture, front and center, in the White House briefing room. Thomas lost her prized position when forced to retire following a tirade in which she said the “Jews should get the hell out of Palestine.” Thomas’ chair was barely cold when the press began fighting over the front-row opening.
Given this history, it is no surprise that the press was spooked when incoming Chief of Staff Reince Priebus suggested during an interview with Hugh Hewitt that a President Trump might establish a “new tradition” for press briefings, which would do away with front-row reserved seating. The White House Correspondents’ Association president again began pounding his chest and keyboard, claiming authority over the briefing room’s seating chart.
This matter is far from settled. So expect Seatgate to continue unabated into 2017, with a flare-up during the first official briefing later this month. And don’t be surprised if the Trump White House launches a game or two of musical chairs, perfectly timed to coincide with more controversial briefings.
3. We’re nerds. Wait—we’re nerds?!?!
While seemingly petty, at least complaints concerning press access have a semblance of seriousness. On the other hand, worries about the annual White House Correspondents’ Dinner scream childishness. Yet stories broke recently of fears among the press about its future: “It could be a dinner akin to the disastrous ones in ‘Meet the Parents,’ ‘Talladega Nights’ and Wedding Crashers.’”
Why is the press so skittish about the event under a President Trump? Here’s my theory: Every year, the press awaits the White House Correspondents’ Dinner with tingling anticipation. Over the last eight years, the cachet of this event increased exponentially with President Obama’s Hollywood following. The dinner became a prime-time celebrity-fest that offered the press a chance to socialize in a setting befitting its own (self-) importance.
At the same time, the media downplayed the increasing glitz of the night with faux self-deprecating humor, branding it the “Nerd Prom.” Now THAT is some Fake News!
But with stars and singers falling over themselves to boycott Trump’s inauguration, it is unlikely that celebrities will show up in numbers at this year’s Correspondents’ Dinner. The press will be left mingling with themselves at a true geek gathering—making their self-deprecation a self-fulling prophecy.
4. As goes Pokemon Go, so goes fake news
Speaking of the Fake News narrative: Should we expect that to continue with Press 2017? I say, “no.” To take hold, a narrative must be two things: believable and measured. Fake News is neither. First, Fake News was never a credible storyline because the biggest fake stories came from the left, but were ignored by the press.
Second, the press pushed the Fake News storyline too hard and too fast. Overexposure will render Fake News the new Pokeman Go—the hot thing until poof, no one cares anymore.
But watch for Press 2017 to push other angles in an attempt to maintain its own relevance. Most likely: Press 2017 will chastise President Trump for his every slight of the media—and not merely the over-the-top tweet attacks. While the press didn’t seem to have a problem with President Obama attacking Fox News, with a President Trump we can anticipate the media mounting a strong defense of an independent media.
5. When petty and hypocritical aren’t enough—the press levels up:
From the looks of it, Press 2017 will retain its petty and hypocritical persona, but if the closing days of 2016 foretell the new year, expect the media to level up to hypocritical pettiness. How so? By going to great lengths—and heights.
Just days before Christmas, Politico ran a piece of investigative journalism rivaled only by the media’s earlier foray into the Romneys’ roof-top dog-toting “scandal.” Get this: Trump may have lied about his height! While The Donald claims he is 6’3”, his driver’s license tells another tale.
Petty. But not just petty. Hypocritical too. The press never investigated Obama’s height, even when it had reason to do so. After all, Obama mysteriously grew ½” while in office! Why this disparity? People want to know!
As the press’ position of prestige continues to diminish, look for more acting out, with hypocritical pettiness becoming their go-to response. On deck: Watch for the press to pounce on First Lady Melania Trump—criticizing everything from her apparel (and its price tag) to her parenting. And the media wonders why its own stature is shrinking.