The media hold Trump accountable, that’s their job

B. Jay Cooper
4 min readJun 29, 2017

It’s funny (interesting funny, not haha funny) that the other day the first question to Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was a setup for her to go on a five-minute harangue against the media for its “fake news” and unfairness to the President.

It’s also funny (interesting funny, not haha funny) that it was the first televised White House press briefing in a while. My guess is that first question/setup was pre-arranged by the press office so she could go on her harangue and my guess is it’s no coincidence that this particular briefing was on camera.

The expected adversarial relationship between the media and the White House is a full-blown war. A reporter in the briefing called Ms. Sanders tirade “inflammatory” and clearly aimed at those Trump supporters viewing the briefing. It’s funny (maybe haha this time) that the White House accuses reporters of using on-camera briefings to pump up their “brand” on YouTube and other places when that is exactly what Ms. Sanders did the other day. Her aim clearly was for that harangue to be used on every right-wing media outlet in the country. And I’m sure it was it went viral in those outlets.

This while there is a huge battle going on over health care and the millions who could lose insurance with the Republican Senate’s bill, the continuing investigations into Russia mucking with our election and the President’s reported refusal to accept that and a couple of potential real wars percolating, with the heat turned up by the President himself. Forget the rest of Trump’s campaign agenda. I’d be happy if he focused on those matters alone right now.

No wonder he wants to make the press the issue.

Some are calling for a “truce” between the media and the White House and if the President really meant it if he signed on to a truce, I wouldn’t believe him. Besides I don’t think we need a truce. I think the White House should start answering reporters’ questions instead of dodging them. I think rather than a truce reporters should do their job even more diligently.

The White House, after all, works for us. And we deserve answers to these questions. And the media are the institution we’ve delegated the right to ask those questions. The Constitution in effect says so.

Trump didn’t get the White House in a hostile financial takeover, he won an election. He works for you and me.

Ms Sanders, in particular, is who it appears Trump likes to have brief because she is so automatically defensive of what he does. Hey, we all expect the spokesmen to take the President’s side, and that’s cool, but they also need to tell the American people why they do what they do and how they’re doing it. We pay them for that.

The media, if you don’t like the way they cover the news, can be turned off. You can change the channel or not buy that newspaper. Personally, I depend on the media to tell me what’s going on. I, obviously, do not believe, as the President instructs us to, that the New York Times, Washington Post, the broadcast networks, CNN or MSNBC are “fake news”. I think they make mistakes, of course. But they fess up to them when they are wrong and move on. I’d rather have a press that occasionally makes mistakes than no press at all. Unlike this White House who refuses to fess up to anything and who clearly would prefer no media watch over their shoulders. All the better to do only what you want and not be held accountable.

It’s funny (haha not interesting…well interesting too) that Trump yells “fake news” when he doesn’t like a story. That big piece the Post ran the other day, reporting President Obama’s failures to act when he learned Russia was messing with our elections, apparently wasn’t “fake,” because Trump kept pointing to it and calling for an investigation into Obama and the former president’s “collusion” with the Democratic Party to steer the nomination to Hillary Clinton. Lord, really, Mr. Trump? I wish you’d put your creative thinking to work on health care.

When the Post aims its guns at him, it is “fake,” he says. Make up your mind Mr. President.

You can’t have it both ways. Your credibility with most of the country is under water, and that includes a lot of your base. When you yell “fire” I’m not sure if I should run toward the exits or go hunting for the flames myself. I just find it hard to believe you because of all your lies, deceptions and whining.

You may be worse than the boy who cried wolf.

In fact, you are. That was a fairy tale. This is reality.



B. Jay Cooper

Former deputy White House press secretary (Reagan and Bush 41) and former head of communications at Republican Natl Committee. My blog: