Originally appeared at ZeroHedge
Former CNN White House correspondent, Frank Sesno, has taken it upon himself to define the guidelines by which the news media should cover Donald Trump. The rules were published by The Hill, where Sesno is a contributor, and urge reporters to be “relentless” yet “fair” and describes Trump is the “adversary.”
1. Be fair. Give Trump his due: He won. As his appointments and policies emerge, they should be examined in turn and in detail, looking at their component parts. Separate news from opinion. Be sure people know the difference between analysis and commentary. Get rid of pundits who are nothing more than partisan propagandists.
2. Be relentless. Relentless reporting means that journalists should demonstrate an attention span that goes beyond the last deadline or latest insult. Stay on the story. Focus on choices and tradeoffs that affect people’s lives. Tax cuts. Health care. Infrastructure. Immigration.
Zero in on the particulars. Cite examples. Use data, real numbers and real people. Seek out other views, different angles. Draw upon not only “experts” but also people across the country, including the voters who upended this election.
3. Focus on substance. The president-elect never laid out the deep detail behind his tweets and sound bites that got so much traction: repeal ObamaCare, rip up trade agreements, walk away from climate commitments, back off regulation, dump Dodd-Frank, rethink NATO.
The media can do less horse race and more human race. Go beyond personalities and politics. Do series reporting. Cable news — with 24 hours to fill can produce longer segments with graphics and serious conversation to dive deep. Talk radio should do less arguing and more asking.
4. Respect the adversary. The adversarial nature of the press — which Trump doesn’t like and takes personally — is the cornerstone of a free press. It is the a bedrock principle by which we hold the powerful to account and ferret out incompetence, hypocrisy and corruption. Thomas Jefferson was treated that way. So was Abraham Lincoln. And Ronald Reagan. They didn’t like it, but it was power’s price of admission.
Among the most dangerous sounds to come out of Trump’s mouth has been his disrespect, not just for individual journalists, but for journalism itself. Turning reporters from adversaries into enemies, inciting the crowd to the point that some reporters needed personal security protection during the campaign is the kind of horrific thing we expect to see in Venezuela or Russia or Cuba.
After months of not holding a press conference amid multiple FBI investigations and Clinton Foundation scandals, this is how the “news media” handled Hillary’s first press conference. We would very much appreciate Sesno’s opinion on whether or not the “How was your labor day weekend?” question fit within his guidelines…doesn’t seem all that relentless and maybe a little light on the substance as well…but we’re just a bunch of “Putin’s useful idiots” peddling “fake news”…what do we know?
Of course, language like Sesno’s opening paragraphs below simply prove that the crusade against Trump is nothing more than a personal vendetta against a candidate that repeatedly exposed, embarrassed and humiliated the mainstream media for their biased coverage.
He summons network anchors and top execs to complain about unfair coverage and unflattering photos. He upbraids cable networks for their unrelenting coverage. He cancels a session with The New York Times, suggesting his media war is just beginning, and then reschedules the meeting. He’s on the record, then off the record. He posts a two-and-a-half-minute YouTube video that lays out the first executive actions he plans to take, shunning the journalists he distrusts so much.
Last week’s acrimonious dance between President-elect Donald Trump and the media is just the warmup.
And while Sesno claims the high ground by asserting that journalists play a key “mediating role in our democracy,” the electorate just proved that they know better. While journalists should play a “key mediating role in our democracy”, the news media has proven time and again that they simply use their “access to decision-makers” to push carefully crafted narratives supporting their chosen political candidates and therefore can’t be trusted.
Say what you will about the news media, but journalists run interference between the public and the public officials who govern us.
Reporters have experience and, often, expertise. They can compare one comment, one promise to another. They have access to decision-makers and the loyal opposition. They play a mediating role in our democracy, where we hold government leaders accountable.
The best journalists are stand-ins for citizens, paid to go up close and ask tough questions.
Alas, as we’ve said before, the Trump administration welcomes this kind of frustrated backlash from disaffected reporters as it simply serves to maintain the focus of America’s anger on the corrupt media and almost ensures a Trump re-election in 4 years.