Trump seizes the advantage in war with media – Politico
Donald Trump and his allies believe he’s gained a tactical advantage in his war with the media.
As he escalates his attacks on the “failing media,” Trump and his allies are increasingly convinced that recent evidence, including the retracted CNN piece on an aspect of the Russia investigations, will prove to skeptical voters that the mainstream media has a vendetta against the administration.
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Many White House staffers were “elated,” a person with knowledge of their conversations said, when they learned that three journalists had resigned over a botched story that claimed newly appointed Export-Import bank official Anthony Scaramucci was being investigated for his ties to a Russian investment fund.
Trump was quick to publicize the retraction and resignations on his Twitter feed, adding, “What about all the other phony stories they do. FAKE NEWS.” He used the “FAKE NEWS” line again Wednesday morning in claiming that The Washington Post was “guardian of Amazon,” the company of Post owner Jeff Bezos.
Conservative outlets and allies of the president also trumpeted Sarah Palin’s libel suit against The New York Times for suggesting in an editorial that her super PAC played a role in inciting the gunman who shot former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. The editorial from May was ultimately corrected, but was nonetheless an embarrassing moment for another media company that’s aggressively reported on the president and received his wrath in return.
The attacks marked an escalation of Trump’s strategy of citing media bias to rally conservatives and undecided voters around the idea that the investigations of Russian influence in the 2016 election are media-driven and politically motivated.
Nigel Farage, a Trump ally and former British lawmaker, wrote on Twitter “It’s not looking good for CNN. @realDonaldTrump was right when he called this a witch hunt.”
Some Trump allies suggested that the recent misstep at CNN is enough to justify drastic changes to how the White House deals with the press, including moving reporters out of the West Wing entirely.
“Now would be a perfect time to move the briefing from the West Wing. I’d move [Press Secretary Sean] Spicer over there too,” said one top Republican aide on Capitol Hill. “The public doesn’t care where the reporters sit. If the press corps gets moved 100 feet away, it will be a one-day story. No one cares.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association and many reporters have strongly protested the possibility of moving the briefing room and their tiny work spaces, noting the access it affords them to not only the White House press shop but other senior administration figures such as Chief of Staff Reince Priebus.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders dashed the idea for now, saying there are “no changes planned at this time” for the briefing.
Internally, some staffers at CNN saw the retraction episode as embarrassing, and expressed chagrin at having given Trump such powerful ammunition, especially since it followed by several weeks a mistaken report by the network that former FBI Director James Comey would dispute Trump’s claim that Comey had told him he wasn’t under FBI investigation.