In seven days, Donald Trump will be sworn in as our 45th President.
During his transition he has efficiently named his Cabinet members some of whom now are going through their confirmation hearings and some of them are contradicting things Trump promised on the stump (the CIA nominee said he’d quit before ordering torture, the Defense secretary said Russia is the biggest threat to our security and, well, the Secretary of State nominee said he hadn’t yet discussed policy toward Russia with the president-elect).
Policy will work its way out, probably in the same chaotic way we’ve seen in his transition. That’s his management style. We’ll see how effective that is when running the government. I don’t think it’s the right way to go — and I hope I’m wrong.
To me, the most important thing right now is how he deals with the media. He held his first post-election press conference this week, which also was his first since July. His press secretary kicked it off with a statement haranguing the media over its handling of the story which alleges that the Russians have compromising info about the president-elect.
A lawyer then explained how Trump will handle his conflicts of interest which didn’t pass the smell test and then Trump came on and basically beat up some of the press for their approach to the Russia story, pushing questions about his conflicts of interest out of the interest zone. He is very good at saying pay no attention to that main behind the curtain so he can change the subject.
Now I know a huge number of Americans do not like the media. I’m not in that camp. I don’t like the fake news sites that exist merely to get clicks and run blatantly untrue stories like the Pope endorsed a candidate. I don’t like the right and left wing sites that push their philosophy through their “news stories” but I respect their right to exists and caveat emptor.
But I do respect the mainstream press. I was a reporter way back when and I was a spokesman for Republican Administrations in Washington for a long time.
The truth is, when we in the White House press office would come in and read the Washington Post or New York Times and see a story alleging some bad thing the administration had done, our default was to believe the media. We’d then go and try to check it out internally so we could give an informed answer to the media and we basically knew who among our colleagues in the White House had credibility and which had an agenda so we wouldn’t give them as much credence.
We did not think the media story was wrong unless we found evidence inside to the contrary.
A Trump White House will dub every negative story as “fake news.” No question in my mind. It’s what Trump has done on his campaign and I have seen nothing to believe that will change.
I hope my fellow Americans will default to believing the mainstream press, because, trust me, they will be right far more often than they’ll be wrong. Many (me included) may have our gripes with the media but I thank goodness they are there. In the story alleging compromising information about Trump, no mainstream media ran the allegations because for the months they had the allegations, they tried but could not confirm those allegations were true.
I wish the new President the best of luck. His success is our success.
And I hope the media find the way to cover him that is honest and fair and does not back down because he tries to intimidate them.