According to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump Administration. If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center—near Lafayette Square—or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.
“There has been no decision,” Sean Spicer, Trump’s press secretary, said about the plan today. But Spicer acknowledged that “there has been some discussion about how to do it.”
Spicer spins this move as a favor: “There’s been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump,” he said. “A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That’s something we’re discussing.”
There are two things happening here. First is the classic Trump bullying. He’s throwing his weight around – because he can – and showing how he can (literally) marginalize reporters. Second, his narcissism is showing. He want’s his press conferences to look like his rallies – so turnout matters. This will also allow him to fill those seats with people who will clap, cheer and laugh at his jokes on demand.
Questions on policy, ethics, Russia, etc. will be measured by a laugh track – “Look at the crowds at my press conference! The real reporters booed at CNN’s question about Putin – FAKE NEWS!” Trump is setting the stage, and what better way to do that then by diluting serious voices by putting them in a Breitbart swamp.
But the reasons above aren’t what’s really going on. Look past the spin and you’ll find this:
“They are the opposition party,” a senior official says. “I want ’em out of the building. We are taking back the press room.”
Opposition party? We are watching the writing of a narrative. This will join with “fake news” and “hostile press” and label the press as a partisan party. This choice of words is no accident. It’s deliberate… and extremely dangerous.