Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing

accessdeniedWASHINGTON (CBS SF/AP) — The Trump administration ramped up its war against the press Friday, blocking several major outlets from a scheduled White House press briefing.The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, CNN and Politico were among the news organizations excluded from the meeting, reportedly an untelevised gathering with the press instead of the usual on-camera briefing with White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

I am not aware of the specific reasons for the action, but:

1.  I read the New York Times daily. It is routinely making every effort to present the actions of the Trump Administration in a negative light, often engaging in outright deceit to do it. It is behaving, as it has for years, as a Democratic Party organ.

2. CNN simply teems with anti-Trump hostility, in the tone of panel discussions, in the framing of the news, in the sneers and body language of its talking heads. This is not ethical journalism.

3. Politico is left-biased, but I haven’t followed it closely. The LA Times has conditions for use that I can’t meet. I’m not sure how biased they have been.

4. There is nothing per se unethical about a Presidential administration deciding that a news source it considers untrustworthy, unreliable and allied with groups that want to literally bring it down should be treated accordingly. Competent, unbiased, fair and ethical journalism is not an excessive requirement.

5. The response to Trump’s very clear warning to the news media last week was, “You can’t stop us, and we will be as hateful as we please.” This is his response to that. Hubris has its consequences. After MSNBC’s “Morning Joe’s” co-host Mika Brzezinski ‘s comment this week, some attitude adjustment seems to be mandatory. She said of the President,

“He is trying to undermine the media and trying to make up his own facts. And it could be that while unemployment and the economy worsens, he could have undermined the messaging so much that he can actually control exactly what people think. And that, that is our job.”

No, Mika, actually leaders always  lead, which always means trying to persuade the public.  That is their job. You job is to keep the public informed without telling them what to think, since as this statement proves, you don’t think all that well. At all.

6.  I am surprised that the Washington Post wasn’t shut out as well, especially after a slime job like this story.

7. Would I recommend this action by Trump? No. But it is a defensible response to a real threat to his ability to govern, and an informed democracy. It may not be a responsible or prudent response.

8. The best response would be for journalists to start doing their real job, and report the news fairly and competently without aligning themselves with political agendas.


Pointer: Zoltar Speaks!

27 thoughts on “Breaking Ethics Thoughts: The White House Bars The NYT And Others From Its Press Briefing

  1. Excluding CNN, NYTimes, LATimes – and including Breitbart – this you call “a defensible response to a real threat to…an informed democracy.”

    Jack…I just cannot follow your thinking on this one. This is way, way too far down the line.

    • Here is Breitbart’s current headline:

      “Media Outrage over White House ‘Exclusion’ is Fake News”

      The inmates are truly taking over the asylum.

      • I love it. It’s about time these partisan, democrat, cultural-Marxist, propaganda machines were put in their place. Good for you POTUS !!!!

        Unelected bureaucrats are continuing to promote Obama’s policies, and the unelected courts are destroying our Constitution beyond what previous generations of Americans could have ever feared in their worst nightmares.

        Blue states are allowed to violate the Constitution with impunity while red states have been denuded of their right to self-govern in accordance with the Constitution and federal law.

        The partisan, democrat, cultural marxist media machine has been a praetorian guard for these unelected hate-America bureaucrats and judges.

        At long last, they’ve gotten their comeuppance. Hoo ah ! Bravo Zulu. Full steam ahead !!1

      • I downloaded the Breitbart app to my phone and once or twice have read an article. I was curious again after Jack’s comment and looked in to see what they were up to. I found an interesting article that reports on a ‘progressive’ coven of witches who are organizing an ‘open-source’ witchcraft spell, which will involve the stub of an orange candle, nails, salt, and an invocation of infernal forces and harnassing of ‘the mass energy of the participants’, ‘to bind Trump and all who abet him’. It will be performed in the waning moon at a certain date until Trump is removed from office. The spell is an emotional-invocative ritual and ends with the blowing out of the orange candle stub ‘while visualizing Trump blowing apart into dust or ash’.

        I have just now been trying to work my way through ‘The Lamentable Tragedy of Titus Andronicus’, said to be Shakespeare’s most popular play, and the one that most captured the audience of his time, because I suppose it deals on such elemental and gut-level issues. I have two comments to make:

        One is that, like the Progressive Witches, people live in an ‘imagined world’ and like the Progressive Witches actually act in, and interpret themselves, and visualize themselves, in what appears to me to be a kind of theatrical relationship to what is another theatrical and structured display: the *world* presented by Media.

        I have the sense that millions and millions of people, perhaps tens of millions, are living through a peculiar ‘imaginal relationship’ to the events of the day, and obviously what I am getting at is that, in different degrees, and like the Progressive Witches, they have become unhinged. To conduct their ‘spells’ and ‘hexes’ though they have Twitter, and ‘meme-magic’, and short phrases that encapsulates knotted and dark emotional contents which, like ‘trabajos de brujería’, like intention-darts, get projected into other people’s imagined spaces.

        So, when Charles says “The inmates have taken over the asylum” (a very rich image I should say! that offers many different possibilities to the imagination!) I would attempt to turn it around and suggest that “The asylum has taken over the inmates”.

        The issue of Fake News, the question of it, the fact of it, is not so much that a fake story can come into existence, it is that there are ungrounded and un-self-conscious persons who are not in control of their ‘imagined space’ of their own self.

        But this condition, the condition of a person (a soul) in our present, and this specific condition of specific people in our specific American present, has not just appeared out of a vaccuum. These are the outcomes of whole systems of choices, actions and decisions. It is bound up in a media-culture, the Culture of the the Spectacle, of public relations offices and highly trained psychologists and social-engineers, and into that Witchy Brew (heh heh) One must consider the popular mind, the mind that cannot (not really) reason, an afflicted mind, and the average woman and man who has been given the power to express his malformed imaginings and inject them into the public psychlogical sphere.

    • Well, let’s put it this way: a lawyer who breached the ethics of the profession with the frequency of these organizations would be banned from representing clients until it was shown that the lawyer had reformed. True? True. A doctor who breached medical ethics would be forbidden to operate on patients. The First Amendment prevents such policing of unethical journalism, but this is one way to demand accountability. The news media’s arrogant assumption that it is beyond consequences is one of the reasons it is untrustworthy.

      • “A lawyer…a doctor…”

        Jack, you’re doing that thing again where you compare individuals to the large and all-encompassing body known as “The Media.” That is skewing your analysis here.

        • Journalists. What would happen to a hospital that encouraged unethical doctors to practice there? A culture of bias and dishonesty is the organization’s fault, not just the individual professionals who succumb to it.

          • A good comparison would be to consider what would happen to a bar association or a medical licensing board who ceased to do their job. What would happen if either ignored their responsibility and left the corrupt, incompent or otherwise unfit in practice?
            The state would step in and address the deficiency. Either the board would be replaced or it would be dissolved.

            That is the recant comparison that isn’t there for journalism.

        • The media is made up of individuals and organizations, just like the legal community is made up of individuals and organizations.

          If a person claiming to be a journalist specializes in fiction is he/she a journalist? If you have a group of writers who claim to be journalists and who serve to provide an accurate picture of the state of the world but, say 20% decide to write in such a manner that is designed to deceive the reader because they have strong opinions of politics then all those claiming to be real journalists are suspect when people see a distortion of facts.
          That is why I believe Jack used those examples. If lawyers were allowed to get away with misappropriating funds or lying to clients about how much money they can get them for a tort claim ALL lawyers are tarred with that brush. Same as with doctors.

  2. “I read the New York Times daily. It is routinely making every effort to present the actions of the Trump Administration in a negative light, often engaging in outright deceit to do it. It is behaving, as it has for years, as a Democratic Party organ.”

    I can mostly agree that it has been, primarily, a Democratic organ, and, therefore, primarily oppositional to Trump and company. Still… if you run down the list of NYT pieces, it’s not all negative. Some of it is simply reporting.

    As for CNN, I don’t know much about them. Still, I found this…

  3. If I heard correctly a couple of hours ago, according to Erick Erickson, who claims to have been in this same room more than once, this sort of briefing is routine, and is held in a very small room with space for only a few journalists of the President’s choosing. There is nothing new or unusual about this. It would seem to be another completely standard practice that no one questioned when Obama did it. Still another tempest in a teapot.

  4. I just checked out Ari Fleischer’s twitter feed. He insists that hand-picking of journalists for a press gaggle isn’t at all unusual, he says it’s done “often,” “all the time,” but he personally thinks it’s unwise. Tempest in a teapot.

  5. Fattymoon:

    Here is my take on the CNN OpEd you cited.

    The CNN piece is hardly an unbiased Op-Ed piece. Trump is condemned throughout and only if things work out it will be of luck and not sound policy.

    What was very interesting was the following statement:

    “One thing I’m not is a Trump fan. One thing I am, though, is urgently concerned with the fate of poor black communities. In that, Trump’s intention here brings to mind a conversation I had with Brown University economist Glenn Loury on the videochat series Bloggingheads”. (Get the plug in)

    …….Why does Trump’s statement of intent remind him of a video chat he had with another Ivy League professor and not of something that suggests Trump may be on to something positive?

    “Last year, he and I speculated that if Trump made an offer to black America to directly address the problems of poor black communities, then no matter how constructive his offer was, the black punditocracy’s “smart” take would be to reject Trump’s offer because he is Republican and seems less than pure of racist sentiments in his private person.”

    “Sadly, this prediction has been borne out. The theme is logical contradictions.”

    WTF. Blacks are “smart” to reject white republican ideas because they are not racially sensitive enough. There is no logic in bigotry, otherwise it would not be universally condemned.

    The writer then evaluates other’s work that effectively undermines the standard line of lack of schooling and employment. But then uses his fileting knife to castigate Trump’s ideas and impugn his cognitive processes.

    “I have no idea whether Trump, as unreflective and uninformed a soul he is, will really be able to have an effect on poor black communities. However, given that we can’t pry this man out of the White House for the time being, we need to get over this impulse to go into denial mode about black communities’ problems just because the person mentioning them isn’t a paragon of racial sensitivity.”

    I really don’t know how reflective or informed Trump is but I can make the same claim about the writer of this Op-Ed. How exactly does he know how reflective or informed Trump is on this subject. Can he back up this claim with objective evidence that Trump is an unreflective and uninformed soul?

    Obviously, if we are to hold Trump to absolute accuracy of his words then we must hold journalists and other pundits to an even higher standard. Thus, without unequivocal proof to back up his assessment of Trump’s reflectiveness or level of understanding of the Chicago problem then the statement must be a lie just as all of Trump’s less than supportable off-the-cuff statements.

    I have concluded that the writer leads “black punditocracy” down a path of rejection of Trump ideas because that is the “smart” move and then laments the fact that they did just that. I know he says that they were just speculating on what the black community will do and not what it should do. However, when you assign a modus of thinking to another whose latter behavior does in fact make your speculation true that does not mean that your public thoughts had no influence in the outcome. If the writer is truly looking out for minority communities why spend so much time explaining why they will do something not in their best interests.

    The writer is about as concerned about the fate of poor black communities as is all the rest of the pontificators who write about the issues. If he were truly concerned about the well being of the black community he would have spent time on addressing solutions to the issues rather than speculating on how the black community will shun all things Republican.

  6. Most of the reporters I work with don’t want to hear how Obama did far worse things to the media than Trump. When I bring up specific instances of bias in the media, you can see by their body language they’re shutting me out. Many of these folks are intelligent, good reporters. But they’re so utterly blinded by their biases, they can’t see an unbalanced hit piece when it’s staring them in the face.

    I try to break it down simply for them. I’ll show them a piece and say: “Look at this story. It only quotes the people who are against Trump’s policy. We know there are millions of Americans who support what he’s doing. Isn’t it our job to tell both sides of the story? Well, this story doesn’t do that. It’s biased. This is basic journalism, isn’t it?” You should hear the pretzel-logic answers I get. They just don’t want to hear it. Trump is Hitler, and that’s all there is to it. Get aboard the train or shut up.

    It’s very disheartening to see every TV in the newsroom broadcasting CNN on a continuous loop, seemingly every headline breathlessly reporting the latest Trump apocalypse. I want to puke seeing all the Facebook posts from fellow reporters extolling the virtues of the press, and warning how crucial journalists are to democracy. When I ask them, “why weren’t these principles weren’t so important when Obama’s administration was wiretapping reporters’ phones?” I either get blank stares, or someone will lean in and say, “Dude…you didn’t actually vote for Trump, did you?”

    Luckily, there are a handful of reporters who get it. They’re helping keep me sane.

    • “Trump is Hitler, and that’s all there is to it. Get aboard the train or shut up.”

      These same reporters assured us that Trump was unelectable and that Hillary was the real hero of women and the working class. They need Trump to be Hitler now for their own self-validization, and as journalists they are in a position now to MAKE him Hitler, thus validating their earlier contentions.

      Would a professional defy the ethics and principles of his career just to feel better about himself? Yup. It’s pretty common.

  7. I was thinking of previous administrations, and the news while I was growing up…. It seems to me, and this might be my ‘member berries in action, but it seems to me that I remember a time where the news was biased, perhaps, but it was a subtle bias, the kind of bias that you’d only notice if you were of a mind to look.

    They’d report the facts you see, ostensibly giving enough rope to their targets to skip or swing, and the bias would be in the form of selection, not solicitation.

    What is…. or should be… absolutely indefensible about how the media covers Trump is in the pillars of journalistic ethics.

    Seek The Truth and Report it, Minimise Harm , Act Independently, Be Accountable and Transparent, and Don’t be an Ass.

    Alright, I made that last one up, but I bet you could hardly tell. The problem is that the outlets in question don’t even attempt the fig leaf anymore. And this isn’t just unique to Trump…

    Think about PewDiePie (Real name Felix Kjarfiybvgpiayrbrpiuyrbga (It’s pronounced Shell-Berg)) (I know many of you will have never heard of him, you’re better off), a young, Swedish YouTube personality that yells a lot while playing video games. The WSJ found nine… Count ’em… Nine. Instances of him making what they deemed to be anti-Semitic remarks or actions during his (almost decade long) career. Slight problem: More than half of them were completely removed from context, and that context fundamentally changed the nature of the act, and the rest were… Maybe not helped by context, but I think that it’s more indicative of jokes that fell flat than actual antisemitism. Hell one of the 9 bits was him pointing to a group he was interacting with, WSJ took a still of the clip and called it a Nazi salute. Really.

    Compounding that: They didn’t ask for comment; they compiled their hit, and immediately went to two of Felix’s partners: Disney and YouTube and attempted to sewer his cash flow. The short story is that it worked, Disney dropped him like an anvil and YouTube cancelled his YouTube Red show “Scare PewDiePie”. Not exactly great losses to culture, but casualties of the culture war nonetheless. Felix took to his platform (which is more watched that most of the MSM together, with 53,000,000 subscribers and about 5,000,000 views each on the clips he makes, which he releases at about the rate of two per day.), explained himself, showed some of the context for his clips, literally flipped off the camera and said ‘come at me bro’.

    To which…. A whole lot of other people did. Wired was probably the most egregious, releasing the headline “PewDiePie was Always Kinda Racist – but Now He’s a Hero to Nazis.” Subtle, right? They eventually changed that headline to PewDiePie’s Fall Shows The Limits of “LOL JK”. Which is both ironic.. and irrelevant, the internet, like Pepperidge Farm, remembers.

    To Recap: WSJ actively attempted to distort facts to their narrative, they actively tried to Maximise harm, Independence isn’t really an issue unless you count traditional media circling the wagons in an undignified circle jerk, no one was accountable, and they were asses.

    Perhaps not exactly material we’re all familiar with, but I can’t think of a better example from 2017 of the media soiling itself.

    • What’s worse, I think, is that Felix’s audience is YOUNG and relatively informed on the topic of Felix, if nothing else. 53 million young people instinctively knew WSJ was full of shit from the get go, but WSJ released this anyway.

      Why is that bad? Because WSJ just shot itself in the dick when it comes to the next generation, and they either didn’t realise it because they’re so bubbled they don’t understand how the internet works, or they did not care.

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