Too Kind to the Media

He who indulges hope will always be disappointed.  So said Dr. Johnson in one of his many apothegms.

The sudden departure of Ms. Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, was indeed a disappointment.  It's not that Hicks, who has been close to Trump since her days at the president's real estate company, close enough that she earned the nickname "the Trump whisperer," had any talent for political communication.  She was one of the few constants in Trump's inner circle, a non-ideological assistant to a president who doesn't need any help making his thoughts known.

Hope's departure leaves yet another hole to fill in a White House slowly hemorrhaging talent.  Trump seems dissatisfied with every major player around him: he constantly rails on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the press; national security adviser H.R. McMaster is rumored to be on his way out; Chief of Staff John Kelly is engaged in a quiet war with the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump; and secretary of state Rex Tillerson is none too liked within the Oval Office.

The loss of Hope does present an opportunity.  If you're like me, you've grown tired of the amateur hour antics spilling out of the West Wing onto Pennsylvania Avenue.  You're tired of the media greedily grasping onto any morsel of gossip to report, framing the Trump administration as one big backstabbing drama.  You want a return to order, to normalcy.  And, above all, you want a modicum of professionalism.

Trump should hire a cool, calm, and competent communications director.  But at this point, it's clear that such a thing isn't coming.  Trump is Trump.  He's always going to be Trump.  At 71 years, his habits are more established than a glacier-carved moraine in the Midwest.  The tweets, the gaffes, the misstatements, the policy reversals – they're now par for the course.

 

But if order is irreparable, perhaps something productive could still be gained.  For all his expertise in constructing beautiful buildings, Trump is a wrecking ball.  His blunt-force style is useful for tearing things down.  And what better to demolish than the president's number-one enemy?

I talk of the media and their crazed crusade to chase Trump out of office.  For too long, the White House communications office has played too nice with its main foil: the media.  It's been the school nerd, endlessly pounded into the schoolyard pavement by a bunch of know-nothing bullies with a sense of importance so inflated, it would make the Goodyear blimp shrivel up in embarrassment.

There's no need for this pusillanimity. The D.C. press corps is the most despicable group of preening, self-obsessed, pharisaical nitwits ever not to sit in the jury box during a Salem witch trial.  Puritanical in demeanor, hypocritical in nature, dense in understanding, these malevolent scribblers are an offense to everything good and true in this world.  They deserve to be treated as the rotten souls they are.

Granted, some journalists remain fair-minded – Jake Tapper and Maggie Haberman come to mind.  But most are more focused on blasting off pithy takes on Twitter than doing any actual hard-nosed reporting.

Here are a few suggestions for how the next White House communications director should deal with the press.

First things first: end the dreaded White House press briefing.  This exercise in administrative masochism accomplishes nothing.  It only provides a forum for grandstanding, where blackguards like CNN's Jim Acosta try to run up the "gotcha" score in the name of civic duty.  The briefings are cheap theater, where exchanges are all tilted toward creating viral social media clips.  Deny glamour-seeking journalists their daily pageant of jackassery and restore some dignity to the White House.

Second, turn Twitter's verification system into a banishment list.  Cease all individual communication with anyone bearing a blue check mark next to his Twitter handle.  And for Heaven's sake, stop responding to press inquiries over the platform.  Journalists have a home field advantage on Twitter – except, that is, when they take on Trump himself.

And lastly, why not write an order to lock one or two muckrakers up from time to time?  Trump would gleefully sign it.  Jailing journalists is a fine American tradition.  All the great presidents have done it, from Adams to Lincoln to Wilson.  Certainly an example could be set by throwing the next journo who publishes Democrat-provided classified information behind bars.

The last proposal is meant in Swiftian jest.  The free press remains one of our best institutions.  But the rabid hatred many members of the press have for Trump is nonpareil.  "I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I've known about," former president Jimmy Carter recently told the New York Times.

When the soft-spoken Carter is defending Trump, you know something's wrong.  The media's penchant for publishing false, unsubstantiated stories has gotten out of hand.  The eagerness with which professional reporters breathlessly praise the poise of a murderous dictator's sister over their very own vice president reveals a deep animus toward the current administration.

Hicks was too kind to a press that's more than eager to sacrifice the duly elected leader of the country on the altar of online page views.  The one-sided arrangement can't sustain itself.  The media's credibility is slowly burning out, along with our shared set of common truths we use to make sense of things.

Enough with hopeful niceties – we need reprisal and ridicule in large amounts.  Overly anxious journalists are begging for a swift kick in the pants.  The next White House communications director should be able to give it to them, good and hard.

He who indulges hope will always be disappointed.  So said Dr. Johnson in one of his many apothegms.

The sudden departure of Ms. Hope Hicks, the White House communications director, was indeed a disappointment.  It's not that Hicks, who has been close to Trump since her days at the president's real estate company, close enough that she earned the nickname "the Trump whisperer," had any talent for political communication.  She was one of the few constants in Trump's inner circle, a non-ideological assistant to a president who doesn't need any help making his thoughts known.

Hope's departure leaves yet another hole to fill in a White House slowly hemorrhaging talent.  Trump seems dissatisfied with every major player around him: he constantly rails on Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the press; national security adviser H.R. McMaster is rumored to be on his way out; Chief of Staff John Kelly is engaged in a quiet war with the president's daughter, Ivanka Trump; and secretary of state Rex Tillerson is none too liked within the Oval Office.

The loss of Hope does present an opportunity.  If you're like me, you've grown tired of the amateur hour antics spilling out of the West Wing onto Pennsylvania Avenue.  You're tired of the media greedily grasping onto any morsel of gossip to report, framing the Trump administration as one big backstabbing drama.  You want a return to order, to normalcy.  And, above all, you want a modicum of professionalism.

Trump should hire a cool, calm, and competent communications director.  But at this point, it's clear that such a thing isn't coming.  Trump is Trump.  He's always going to be Trump.  At 71 years, his habits are more established than a glacier-carved moraine in the Midwest.  The tweets, the gaffes, the misstatements, the policy reversals – they're now par for the course.

 

But if order is irreparable, perhaps something productive could still be gained.  For all his expertise in constructing beautiful buildings, Trump is a wrecking ball.  His blunt-force style is useful for tearing things down.  And what better to demolish than the president's number-one enemy?

I talk of the media and their crazed crusade to chase Trump out of office.  For too long, the White House communications office has played too nice with its main foil: the media.  It's been the school nerd, endlessly pounded into the schoolyard pavement by a bunch of know-nothing bullies with a sense of importance so inflated, it would make the Goodyear blimp shrivel up in embarrassment.

There's no need for this pusillanimity. The D.C. press corps is the most despicable group of preening, self-obsessed, pharisaical nitwits ever not to sit in the jury box during a Salem witch trial.  Puritanical in demeanor, hypocritical in nature, dense in understanding, these malevolent scribblers are an offense to everything good and true in this world.  They deserve to be treated as the rotten souls they are.

Granted, some journalists remain fair-minded – Jake Tapper and Maggie Haberman come to mind.  But most are more focused on blasting off pithy takes on Twitter than doing any actual hard-nosed reporting.

Here are a few suggestions for how the next White House communications director should deal with the press.

First things first: end the dreaded White House press briefing.  This exercise in administrative masochism accomplishes nothing.  It only provides a forum for grandstanding, where blackguards like CNN's Jim Acosta try to run up the "gotcha" score in the name of civic duty.  The briefings are cheap theater, where exchanges are all tilted toward creating viral social media clips.  Deny glamour-seeking journalists their daily pageant of jackassery and restore some dignity to the White House.

Second, turn Twitter's verification system into a banishment list.  Cease all individual communication with anyone bearing a blue check mark next to his Twitter handle.  And for Heaven's sake, stop responding to press inquiries over the platform.  Journalists have a home field advantage on Twitter – except, that is, when they take on Trump himself.

And lastly, why not write an order to lock one or two muckrakers up from time to time?  Trump would gleefully sign it.  Jailing journalists is a fine American tradition.  All the great presidents have done it, from Adams to Lincoln to Wilson.  Certainly an example could be set by throwing the next journo who publishes Democrat-provided classified information behind bars.

The last proposal is meant in Swiftian jest.  The free press remains one of our best institutions.  But the rabid hatred many members of the press have for Trump is nonpareil.  "I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I've known about," former president Jimmy Carter recently told the New York Times.

When the soft-spoken Carter is defending Trump, you know something's wrong.  The media's penchant for publishing false, unsubstantiated stories has gotten out of hand.  The eagerness with which professional reporters breathlessly praise the poise of a murderous dictator's sister over their very own vice president reveals a deep animus toward the current administration.

Hicks was too kind to a press that's more than eager to sacrifice the duly elected leader of the country on the altar of online page views.  The one-sided arrangement can't sustain itself.  The media's credibility is slowly burning out, along with our shared set of common truths we use to make sense of things.

Enough with hopeful niceties – we need reprisal and ridicule in large amounts.  Overly anxious journalists are begging for a swift kick in the pants.  The next White House communications director should be able to give it to them, good and hard.