Press Conference Protocol

Rich Galen
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Posted: Jun 02, 2016 12:01 AM
Press Conference Protocol

Donald Trump's press conference to announce his donations to veterans' groups was a jaw dropper. The amount of money he announced having donated (about $5.6 million) is a long, long way from small change even if you measure your total wealth in the billions.

But, if the Trump campaign thought its candidate making good on a promise made months ago was going to lead every newscast in the near Galaxy, they were wrong.

What led, of course, was Trump's excoriation of the press in general, the political press corps in particular, and three specific reporters in laser focus.

According to CNN: Trump "called ABC's Tom Llamas a 'sleaze,' referred sarcastically to CNN's Jim Acosta's live reports as a 'beauty,' and refused at one point to call on CBS's Major Garrett."

If you are pro-Trump you are saying, "It's about time those pompous asses got taken out by our pompous ass.

If you are anti-Trump you are saying, "Finally, our pompous asses are taking it to that pompous ass.

Whatever. It was great political theater.

Trump did give a million of his own money and over four million he raised from others to veterans' groups, so the press was wrong to publicly thrash him.

But, it did take a direct hit from the Washington Post about a week ago asking where this promised money was, to shake it loose. So, Trump was wrong to publicly wag his finger in the collective face of the press corps.

As the line from the 1967 song "For What It's Worth" by the Buffalo Springfield goes:

"Nobody's right, if everybody's wrong"

The press conference stepped all over two other stories. Big stories.

One was the continuing saga of Hillary Clinton's double-secret-private-email-server. Her State Department Chief of Staff, Cheryl D. Mills, said that Clinton's email address was so closely held that "even White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel had to request [Clinton's] email address."

Trump was not wise to stomp on this story.

The other was the release of documents arising from a suit brought against Trump University - a for-profit endeavor to have people pay mucho money to learn the inside secrets of making mucho money in real estate.

The documents detailed instructions to sales people to upsell attendees at either free or low-priced seminars. The highest upsell was to an Elite Package of personalized instruction that cost the recipient $34,999.

Reading the instructions to the sales staff to be aggressive in upselling is unsettling.

While much shaking of heads and rolling of eyes greeted these instructions; I noted that a similar package of instructions probably exists in every sales office of every car dealership on the planet.

Trump was wise to stomp on this story.

Did Trump make new rules for press conferences? Maybe, but it's not clear that anyone else could get away with it and, as Mika Brzezinski pointed out on "Morning Joe" the next day: Hillary never holds press conferences. She does one-on-one interviews with a specific time limit and who-knows-what ground rules agreed to ahead of time.

In my time, I tried not to mistreat the press. I remember one time when I did.

During the Fred Thompson campaign we were doing a walk-about through some small town in Iowa and a local reporter was trying to make his bones by shouting (even though he was walking two feet away) questions at Thompson.

Fred went into a retail store where the advance team had gathered some locals to meet him and I wouldn't let the offending (and, to my mind offensive) reporter into the shop.

He screamed that it was a store open to the public and he was a member of the public and he was going in.

I said, drawing myself up to my full 5'6", that he was most assuredly not going in as the store was PRIVATE property and I would be happy to have one of the local cops who were walking with us come out and explain the trespassing laws as he was led off to the hoosegow.

I was lying through my teeth, but I was older and more experienced than that reporter and I though he needed tellin', so I told him, and he backed down.

I'd do it again in a minute.