On MSNBC last night, Ari Melber suggested in a segment in which I was a guest that there was a “negativity vibe” surrounding the transition. I am exploring that proposition with three media reporters this AM, the third being Politico’s Hadas Gold:
HH: Joined now by Hadas Gold, the media reporter for Politico.com. Good morning, Hadas, thanks for getting up early. I appreciate you being here.
HG: Good morning, Hugh, great to be with you.
HH: Ari Melber last night coined a term, I was in a segment with him, about the negativity vibe surrounding President-Elect Trump on the part of the mainstream media. Do you agree that such a vibe exists?
HG: I can definitely see where that comes from. I think that a lot of the media has a hard time moving on from the election, from the campaign, and realizing that we now have a President-Elect, and you’ve got to kind of, that changes things a little bit.
HH: They are missing stories as a result, meaning, for example, yesterday, Keith Kellogg was named chief of staff of the NSC, Monica Crowley, PhD, Nixon old hand, joining the NSC, Larry Kudlow tipped for the Council on Economic Advisors, barely a mention anywhere. They’re obsessing on the Vanity Fair tweet. How do they self-correct this, Hadas?
HG: Well, I would like to say that at least for my opinion, Politico has covered especially Crowley and Kudlow and Kellogg quite a bit. But you’re right that there has been a lot of distractions, because the shiny objects like a Kanye West visit or something like that are going to get more clicks, and it’s more interesting than these important appointments. And this is, first of all, it’s, you know, Donald Trump is the classic guy at getting the media to kind of do other things while other things are going on. But I think that eventually, the media will have to learn to really focus on the important things, because we know, the trust in media is at a very low level. And if we want to regain that trust, then it’s pretty important that yes, we should cover everything the President says, including if he makes fun of Vanity Fair. But there’s a lot more important things going on. So maybe we need to somehow, you know, write about Vanity Fair, but immediately go this came on the same day that he made these following important appointments.
HH: Two stories that particularly gall me, on the Russia hack story, which I believe it was Russia, I’ve said that for months. Nevertheless, the CIA refused a briefing that Devin Nunes asked for, and I think this is the Ben Rhodes farewell tour, just like he manipulated the media on the Iran deal. I think he’s manipulating the media here. Second story, the Trump children’s connection with their dad, the context of Milton Eisenhower and Ike, of Bobby Kennedy and JFK, that’s the big one, and Hillary on health care and Bill, and George W. Bush, before he was governor of Texas, was President H.W. Bush’s enforcer. He fired Sununu. Doesn’t that context have to be in all of the stories about the Trump children?
HG: I do think that we’re missing context, and we’re missing context in a lot of things that people are seem to be having like big moments over with Donald Trump that tend to be very helpful to understand this president and understand past presidents, and the fact that not all of this is incredibly new. I do think that there is something new in terms of the business ties, but I think that we need to realize that from polls that I’ve seen, the American public isn’t as concerned about the business ties as perhaps the media is. And maybe we should start paying more attention to what they’re concerned about. For example, I saw a poll that showed more Americans were concerned about daily national intelligence briefings than they were about business ties. And so maybe the media should start paying more attention as we’ve seen in the, you know, during the campaign, that there can be some kind of disconnect between the New York and D.C. centers and what’s going on in the rest of the country.
HH: I agree. In fact, I think they should be more concerned with Aleppo. I think that as Sir Robert Peel was to the great hunger, President Obama will be to Aleppo, and that’s just not being noted that this is all connected to the red line. But one more key question, Hadas. This week, I had Reince on. We made a lot of news, and at the end, we talked the White House Press Corps.
HG: You did.
HH: And the White House Press Corps melted down. And it came to my attention that the guild controls the press room, the guild being the White House Press Association. Look, I don’t think that’s healthy for old media dominated guilds to decide who gets what turf in the White House. I mean, there’s BuzzFeed and Breitbart, there’s Politico and the Hill, now there’s Axios. Is it a good idea for the guild to control the turf?
HG: Well, I think it’s a better option than the White House determining who goes. I mean, that’s why originally, the Correspondents Association took it over so that there wouldn’t be any sort of perceived favoritism from the White House that can so very easily pick their favorites. I do think that the White House Correspondents Association, and the media writ large, have not done a very good job of explaining why it’s important for the media to, for example, be in a press full of Trump, or explain why the daily briefings are important, because they phrase it in the me and why, and you know, 1st Amendment, and things like that. It’s important for the American public to get questions answered by the media.
HH: There’s got to be a different way to do it, though, than to allow the entrenched powers of the media to say you get this seat over here, because I frankly don’t believe it reflects the actual credibility or impact of the influencers in today’s media universe. Hadas Gold, come back early and often through the transition and into the new presidency.
End of interview.