A Modest Proposal for the White House Press Corps
I’ve tweeted about this recently but I think it deserves a bit more of an explanation so people can understand where I’m coming from. My proposal is this: when reporters in the press corps ask President Trump questions, I think they shouldn’t ask him about policy or specific legislation. Simply put, he hasn’t shown any willingness to learn about the details of his policy goals to be able to explain them to the American people. We saw it with his healthcare push where he was unable to explain how the repeal law would work other than that they would come up with something great that would cover everyone. We saw it with the tax reform where he erroneously said that he would take a big hit with the tax bill even though every economic expert knew that this bill was especially good for people like Trump who have pass-through enterprises. We even saw it yesterday during a meeting on immigration when his own GOP congressmen had to tell him that he was advocating for the wrong position. President Trump does not know any important details about his job, nor does he try to be accurate about any of them. Questioning him about it or asking his Press Secretary to explain his position on it will do nothing other than give him a platform to lie, make empty statements, and misinform the people. I think it’s time we started to ask him about things that he really does know something about. For a man who really doesn’t see much difference between the truth and a lie, it might be revealing to see what he says when talking about things that he is familiar with. Maybe he will be more likely to say something resembling the truth or maybe we will have more of an avenue to call him out on his lies.
Here’s an example of a line of questioning that I haven’t seen reported in President Trump’s time in office. We’ve all seen the clips of Trump on the campaign trail saying that he will be too busy working for us to golf. We’ve all seen the tweets where he criticizes Obama for spending too much time on the golf course. He made it very clear that he would not be spending much time on vacation as President. However, in his first 342 days in office, he spent 113 days at his own properties and 87 of those days at a property that has a golf course. So why doesn’t a reporter ask him about those comments he made repeatedly during the campaign about having no time to golf? Has something changed since he got into office that allows him to have time to golf? Is the job less busy than he thought it would be so he has time to golf? Why is his office so secretive about whether or not he played golf during the day? Does he remember making those statements and now he is embarrassed by just how much he is golfing? Forcing himself to answer to the promises he made during the campaign about his golf habits would be really interesting.
Even more than that, they could provide some insight about Trump’s conflicts of interest. As an avid golfer myself, I can tell you that most golfers have a bucket list of courses they would like to play in their lives. We all drool over photos of that course we’ve been dying to play. So does Trump have those same thoughts? Does he also have courses that he would like to play? Ask him about that please! So far, Trump has not played a golf course in office that he does not own. This is puzzling to me because as the President of the United States, the most powerful man in the world, it seems to me that he would have no trouble getting on any course in the world. Why is it that he only plays at Trump courses? Is he trying to help his business still? Is he only comfortable playing at courses that he owns? It would be interesting to see what kind of answer he comes up with if pressed on the topic of why he continues to only golf at his own properties.
When asking him about the Trump golf portfolio, I think it would also be really important to ask him what he still knows about the Trump Organization. It was reported last month that Trump asked the director of revenue management at his Washington DC hotel about banquet revenues, demographics of the guests, and if the Trump presidency is hurting business. Ask him about the conversation he had about his DC hotel. It would be intriguing if he denied talking with anyone involved with the hotel when the director himself revealed emails explaining that he met with Trump recently. If he admits he asked about that hotel, ask about what other aspects of his business he has asked about. Has he kept up with membership numbers at his Mar-a-Lago resort? Does he know about the situations at his many golf courses? Is he advising Eric and Donald Jr. on any of their official business dealings for the Trump Organization? These types of questions are much less complicated than expecting a first-time politician to explain the nuances of healthcare or tax reform. Frankly, these types of questions are all that we can expect Trump to know how to answer.
Finally, I would love to see the Press Corps ask Trump personally about his Twitter, TV watching habits, and other personal issues unrelated to the presidency. With his TV watching habits, Trump likes to say that he has very little time to watch TV but it has been published far and wide that he spends hours a day watching TV. His aides sometimes go on TV and talk about how the most important audience to them is the President himself. So ask him what he thinks about specific news segments that were recently on TV. Ask him what he thought of Stephen Miller’s recent appearance on Jake Tapper’s show. This should be strategic in that it would be easy to catch Trump in a lie seeing as he frequently tweets about news after he has seen it on TV. So ask him about that Fox News segment that talked about the nuclear button. When he says he didn’t see it, kindly tell him that he tweeted about the nuclear button about 15 minutes after the segment was on TV. Smart reporters have been able to match Trump tweets to the Fox News segments that inspired them on multiple occasions, so this kind of thing is going to keep happening. Trump is going to continue to watch too much TV and he should be forced to explain why he is doing so. If he tries to lie about it, we have to ask him why he is doing that. In terms of personal issues, it would be very interesting to see what Trump has to say about the Mueller investigation. Force him to answer questions about George Papadopoulos, the rumors that Mueller wants to question him, the Manafort indictment, and any other recent news. Force him to tell you about what he believes is the “biggest witch hunt” in the history of the presidency. With the recent sexual assault and harassment allegations going public in Hollywood, ask him why he hasn’t sued his own accusers as he promised to when he became president. Did he not sue them because they had legitimate claims? Did he determine it would be a distraction to his presidency? Why did he make those claims if he had no intention of following through? Heck, you can even ask him about Michael Wolff’s recent expose of the Trump White House. Ask him anything but to explain things he has no clue about.
What this line of questioning is going to do is infuriate Trump. His fragile ego will take a beating when he realizes that the media doesn’t think he is qualified or knowledgeable enough to answer questions about his legislative accomplishments or goals. He’s going to realize that the people really see him as a president who has no idea what he is doing. Maybe he will whine even more about the “Fake News Media” on his Twitter (he probably will). One thing’s for sure, he probably won’t work any harder to try to learn about the tasks that he needs to be doing. So why should we ask him about them?
My proposal: Ask him about what he knows and leave the complicated stuff to the Congressmen who are actually doing their jobs. Then he’ll know how we all see him: as a pathetic president bloviating about this or that trying to cover up the fact that he really doesn’t know anything he needs to know.