President #Donald Trump’s decision on Friday to exclude major newspapers and other media outlets from a breifeing ith Press secretary Sean Spicer was the latest battle with the Press Corps since the businessman turned politician announced his candidacy for the #White House nearly two years ago. The decision may have pleased his most ardent fans, but it would not have pleased some members of his own Republican party and it certainly made more new headlines around the world about the unorthodox month old Presidency..
Tactics and catch cries
The decision had been foretold in a major attack on the Press that morning at CPAC by President #Donald Trump, but it was still a surprise to the prescribed members of the Press Corps. It has all the hallmarks of a battle of low wits where taunting by the Oval Office is as much part of its style of debate as the provision of information, or the denial of contested news items.
Over the last few weeks two phrases have become part of world political debate and are now are standard rebuttals by those who have no real reply to questions being asked by the journalists and also members of the public.
"#fake news" and “Alternative truths” are now being repeated ad nauseam not only in interviews in the press, but also in exchanges on the social media to try and destroy an opponent that states an uncomfortable truth.
Strangely, many of those using this tactic have forgotten one incontrovertible fact regarding the accusations.
As widely reported by the media, including the Guardian which was one of the newspapers banned that day, in the hours before #The President’s speech at CPAC, the White House had confirmed that its Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had approached the FBI to debunk the news stories of regular contacts between the Trump team and Russian agents during and after the presidential campaign.
This encounter may have been the prelude to that morning’s early morning tweets attacking the FBI as the reply by the Bureau’s hierarchy was an emphatic no.
These investigations were the basis for the President’s accusations of “fake news” in the media. Naturally, the President is well within his rights to declare his innocence, but the constant use of the phrase could easily become the weapon that will ultimately backfire on him when the results come out..
Without pre-empting the outcome of the investigation, the White House’s attempt to accuse any bad news as being fake all depends on the lack of definitive proof, so far. However, in recent weeks the press reports that some matters in the report from a former British intelligence official that sparked the investigation have been confirmed do not bode well for a happy ending on the matter.
The White House staff would do well to tone down the accusations that any bad news is automatically “fake”. Should the investigations provide definitive proof that any of the allegations are in fact correct then that will immediately throw all the Oval Office’s tactics on how it handles the Press Corps out the window.
Simple denial will never be enough and certainly not in the face of a number of high level investigations. The longer and louder the White House yells “fake news”, the bigger the damage caused if and when the tactic backfires.
Only time will give us the answers, but they will certainly not come from the constant repetition of those two phrases which ultimately have no real meaning.