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Official words do matter, but they shouldn’t be what news organizations pay most attention to, as they try to present the truth about a new administration.
White House press briefings are “access journalism,” in which official statements — achieved by closeness to the source — are taken at face value and breathlessly reported as news. And that is over. Dead.
Spicer’s statement should be seen for what it is: Remarks made over the casket at the funeral of access journalism.
As Jessica Huseman of ProPublica put it: “Journalists aren’t going to get answers from Spicer. We are going to get answers by digging. By getting our hands dirty. So let’s all do that.”
She’s right. So was Tim O’Brien, executive editor of Bloomberg View and a Trump biographer, who urged journalists to remember that the White House briefing room is “spoon-feeding and Trump is a habitual fabulist.”
There’s a deeper story here, beyond a single briefing, no matter how memorable. Saturday made clearer than ever that President Trump intends to make the American media his foremost enemy.
During his first official visit to the CIA, Trump once again attacked the media, as he did throughout the campaign as he blacklisted news organizations and called reporters “scum.”
Journalists shouldn’t rise to the bait and decide to treat Trump as an enemy. Recalling at all times that their mission is truth-telling and holding public officials accountable, they should dig in, paying far more attention to actions than to sensational tweets or briefing-room lies — while still being willing to call out falsehoods clearly when they happen.
- What is "access journalism?"
-- The Price of Admission: Andrew Ross Sorkin’s debut and the limits of access journalism.
-- 'Access journalism' ... and the Silicon Valley reporter.
-- So Long, “Access Journalism” — & Good Riddance?
- Who is Press Secretary Sean Spicer?
-- Wikipedia: Sean Spicer?
- What is a White House Press Secretary?
-- Wikipedia: White House Press Secretary.
- Who is Washington Post reporter, and public editor, Margaret Sullivan?
-- Wikipedia: Margaret Sullivan.
- What is a public editor?
-- Wikipedia: Public Editor.