I just watched the umpteenth interview with an apoplectic reporter proclaiming the sky was falling (or, as I call it, Chicken Littling) after the latest rumor to circulate from the Trump administration: that he may deport all press to the Executive Office Building next door to the White House.
To hear them, you’d think Trump had just cut the ribbon on a new Gulag for journalists (that’s not due to be completed till 2018. He says the New York Times will pay for it.).
But, as is our tradition will all things Interweb-related, we swine don’t recognize the pearls we wear.
It wouldn’t be the first time. We began our professional descent when we charged for the print version of news, but not the electronic. The porn industry alone should have been a red flag lesson that giving your product away for free is a rickety business model.
Then we didn’t protect the title “social media,” and even recognized it as an actual thing. It isn’t. The reason you don’t hear about “social surgeons” and “social pilots” is because the medical and aviation industries would sue infringers faster than an Uber training video (13 minutes on YouTube).
Now we are losing our collective wits over the possible eviction, as well as word that Trump may communicate with the press the way he communicates with the public (and, apparently, staff): In 140 characters or less.
To which I say this: Please be true.
Any reporter who has spent more than 4 minutes behind a notepad knows the truth about news conferences: They never contain news. They are simply a cliche delivery system for athletes, celebrities and politicians offering different riffs on the same tune: One Game at a Time, My Fellow Americans, It’s Just an Honor Being Nominated.
By comparison, Twitter is mana from heaven.
Consider his post-Nov. 8 tweets: He blasted Republican lawmakers as pussies, ripped Arnold Schwarzenegger’s performance on The Apprentice, publicly described the CIA and FBI as rife with rubes, hailed a dictator as cunning and, perhaps most egregiously, called Meryl Streep overrated.
Imagine if Obama — or any previous president — said any of those in a news conference. We’d be tripping over each other to get to the computer to file the story first.
Now it’s delivered directly to our phones. As soon as Senators and Representatives see it. The only lag time a reporter faces when writing a Trump-tweet story is how fast the writer can type.
The president’s tweets even create stories where none would have existed. In one missive, he wrote that a nemesis’ actions were “unpresidented.” Had that been a press conference, reporters would have unwittingly corrected the error, assuming that if Trump knew how to say the word, he knew how to spell it.
And we would never have gotten the opportunity to write: “Sorry, Donny, there’s no such word as ‘unpresidented.’ Or even ‘unpresidential,’ despite all evidence to the contrary.” And if you do need a talking head, you have the always-entertaining Kellyanne Conway, whose face looks like it was crushed by another horse’s face.
Finally, follow Fourth Estaters: What makes you think that the threat is any more feasible than, say, draining the swamp or making America great again? Trump would never reject the media; he lives to be in it. We complete him.
To quote our new precedent: Sad!