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The Greatness Agenda

Trump’s Latest Move Against the Press: Get to Da Choppa!

Since abandoning the daily press briefing, which had sunk into an embarrassing spectacle where journalists would bully former press secretary Sarah Sanders, the White House now favors “chopper-pressers” where the boss interacts with the media while his helicopter idles nearby.


- October 12th, 2019
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Originally published at New York Post.

In his latest battle with the American news media, President Trump is bringing out the heavy artillery: Marine One.

Since abandoning the daily press briefing, which had sunk into an embarrassing spectacle where journalists would bully former press secretary Sarah Sanders, the White House now favors “chopper-pressers” where the boss interacts with the media while his helicopter idles nearby.

Like his use of Twitter, Trump’s impromptu gaggles frustrate the media and enable him to control the message for the day.

There is no camera on the press, only Trump. You usually can’t hear the questions on television, only the answers. It takes away the media’s ability to grandstand. There are no Jim Acosta moments.

It also requires journalists to yell over each other and outshout the deafening blades of the president’s waiting ride, conduct that undoubtedly amuses the commander-in-chief.

Trump has held three chopper-pressers in the past 10 days. Thursday’s briefing lasted 11 minutes — the president fielded a number of questions related to Ukraine, Turkey, Joe Biden and his rally in Minneapolis that evening. In one exchange, Trump forced a reporter to ask about the so-called “whistleblower” three times before he answered:

Reporter: Do you know the whistleblower’s name?
Trump: What?

Reporter: Do you know the whistleblower’s name?
Trump: Who?

Reporter: Do you know the whistleblower’s name?

The president finally answered “I don’t know,” then reiterated his message that his July phone call with the Ukrainian president was “perfect.”

The president’s Oct. 4 chopper-presser lasted more than 20 minutes, giving reporters, in less than a week, the kind of access that would have unleashed lavish praise by the Fourth Estate if the president’s name were anything other than Trump.

Instead, the format has outraged the increasingly touchy American news media. “There’s no question that it works to his advantage that we look unruly and disorderly,” New York Times reporter Peter Baker told Politico. “It’s not like standing at a podium in the East Room or the briefing room, where you can have a civilized calling on people who raise their hands.”

But the media have been anything but civilized in the Trump era. They played a complicit role in the bogus Trump-Russia election collusion plotline that consumed official Washington and destabilized Trump’s first term. Now, the press is a willing partner in the Democrats’ impeachment crusade.

The media only have themselves to blame for Trump’s latest power play on the South Lawn. After the way they’ve behaved during the Trump era, many Americans would rather listen to spinning helicopter blades than the average Washington reporter anyway.

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