“Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed: everything else is public relations.”― George Orwell
I think that we need to take a lesson from George these days. At a time where the White House is trying so hard to control the message presented to the media, it seems that the media is simply being complicit. I’m not sure why the press needs to be briefed. I’m not sure that the press should be reporting all the alternative facts that the White House is presenting. I’m not sure that the point of freedom of the press is supposed to give air time and column inches to the theater written by the White House press office. I think it is time that the media stops serving as the White House PR department.
Watch a drama with court room scenes and you might hear an attorney ask a judge if he can treat the person on the stand as a hostile witness. In a world where the White House is screaming “fake news” anytime some publishes a story critical of the administration, maybe it’s time to treat the White House spokespeople as hostile witnesses. Forbidding cameras and yelling at reporters certainly seems hostile to me.
I imagine that there is a downside to not covering the president, but when there are some many untruths being bandied about, when there is so much antagonism, when everything is indistinguishable from a campaign event, how bad would it be to ignore them. It’s not like Breitbart or any of other members of the propaganda arm of the White House are going to get a meaningful scoop or anything.
I think that covering the White House during the current administration requires a different approach. Maybe it should focus more on investigative and even aggressive journalism which will be more likely to root out the truth. Maybe the public deserves more than simply reporting what the president wants heard. We deserve good journalism, not public relations.