WASHINGTON: Howard Kurtz media reports has always been the first read. Recently, Kurtz’s displeasure over President Trump has become more apparent not only in his written word, but also his broadcast reports. Today’s headline from Kurtz, Trump cancels White House Christmas party for the press, moves Kurtz fully into the partisan column.
President Trump has canceled the White House holiday party for the media, making the decades-old tradition a victim of his increasingly contentious relationship with major news organizations.
The annual Christmas-season gathering was a significant perk for those covering the White House, as well as other Washington reporters, anchors, and commentators, and New York media executives would regularly fly in for the occasion. At its peak, the invitation-only soirees grew so large that there were two back-to-back events, one for broadcast outlets and one for print organizations.
Journalists who attended the events, which featured a catered buffet of lamb chops, crab claws and elaborate desserts, got to roam the decorated mansion with a spouse or other family member, a friend or a colleague, adding to the invitation’s allure.
But the biggest fringe-benefit was the picture-taking sessions, in which the president and first lady would patiently pose with guests and briefly chat with them in front of a Christmas tree, with the White House sending out the photos — copies of which were invariably sent home to mom.
Howard Kurtz and Sour Grapes
Kurtz is calling sour grapes because the White House has canceled a “significant perk” for the press. They won’t get their catered buffet laden with crab claws and elaborate desserts. However, reading Kurtz, what might be the biggest hurt is the chance to stand for a photo op with the President and First Lady. That and being able to attend an “event” at the White House. The chance to get that selfie in front of John F. Kennedy’s portrait.
To wander through the rooms where American history lives.
White House officials are present at this annual event. It is a chance for the Press, usually regulated to the unglamorous press rooms to come above ground and hob knob with the denizens that have access to the Oval.
Why Wouldn’t Trump cancel the Press Party?
Last year, the party went forward without the photos with the President and First Lady. Instead, they offered a few welcoming remarks. This last year the press has become harsher on the President, even attacking the first lady. The President was put into a position of having to pull CNN’s Jim Acosta press passes due to his boorish behavior. Playboy correspondent, the oh so obnoxious Brian Karem has been absent from the camera’s lens.
The media, including Kurtz, says the reason the party has been canceled is the media’s “overwhelming negative coverage” of the President and his administration. I have to agree. The President is wise to protect his family. To stand in the media’s crosshairs for an affair that is not official, but instead a personal, intimate affair.
Over the last year, the media has attacked the First Lady on everything from her accent to her Be Best program. They mock her fashion, which is beyond reproach. The make the off-the-cuff critical diagnosis’ of the First Son, from he has ADHD to autism. All of which is at best unproven, at worse just false and mean.
Most recently the press corp has criticized the First Lady and her holiday decorations. Despite the fact that the White House is full of decorated Christmas Tree, mantel decorations and evidence of the season, they have instead focused only on the red Christmas trees in the statement hall, calling them at best demonic. Last year, when the First Lady chose an all white palate for these trees she was mocked with comparisons to the Harry Potter films.
A History of the Elite Snobs of the White House Press Corp.
Just look to 2017 when CNN White House reporter Kaitlan Collins was ousted for shouting question after question at President Trump. The White House Communications folks told her she would not be permitted ata Rose Garden presser.
Yet the press has not taken steps to police itself.
Instead of letting press corps members like Kaitlan Collins, April Ryan, Jim Acosta or Brian Karem act like boobs when addressing the President, they could have asked them to uphold a sense of decorum.
But President Trump is not only President to be so treated by the press.
During the funeral of President George H.W. Bush, radio commentator Rush Limbaugh told Fox’s, Shannon Bream:
Well, it’s phony. They never treated him this way when he was president. There were vicious to him, like they are vicious and partisan to every Republican. I think it’s just a vehicle for them, Shannon, to be able to contrast what they think Trump is versus the way they are telling us Bush was.
The thing is that they never treated George W. Bush this way and George H.W. Bush, either one of them this way. They had just as much animus for Bush 41 and Bush 43 as they do Trump, for different reasons.
But since the current objective is to get rid of Donald Trump, however they can do it, driving down public opinion or Mueller’s report, and impeachment, anything they can do to contrast Trump with what they say was the greatness and the way it ought to be, every good Republican in the media’s idea loses.
That’s why they celebrate Trump — rather than Bush because what’d he do? He raised taxes. He was bipartisan. He went against the interest of his own party. That’s what made him a good guy.
And it’s just — it’s just phony. It’s nothing more than a vehicle for them to continually contrast this made up image that they have of George H.W. Bush. Which, by the way, what they’re saying about him now is true, all of the class and all the dignity, all of the sophistication. But they never reported on him this way when he was president.
Obama’s harsh treatment of the press
Trump took massive heat for revoking Jim Acosta’s press pass. However, Acosta’s refusal to follow the rules of decorum in the press room is obviously worth the ban.
But Obama had his share of reporters removed:
Here’s former President Obama having a reporter removed for interrupting him “in his house” the press claps wildly, even starts chanting Obama’s name while the reporter is being removed for yelling “NO MORE DEPORTATIONS” #KaitlanCollins cc: @BretBaier pic.twitter.com/FuAuTEmG1Y
— Rosie Memos⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@almostjingo) July 26, 2018
And then there is this: Kicking & Screaming: Journo Dragged From Near Air Force One
A reporter for a small newspaper was forcibly removed from a press area near Air Force One shortly before President Barack Obama arrived at Los Angeles International Airport to depart California early Thursday.
Airport security officers carried the woman away by the feet and arms as she protested her removal.
She later identified herself as Brenda Lee, a writer for the Georgia Informer in Macon and said she has White House press credentials. The newspaper’s Web site says it is a monthly publication, and a Brenda Lee column is posted on it.
Calls to the newspaper and the White House press office were not immediately returned.
Lee said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press that she wanted to hand Obama a letter urging him “to take a stand for traditional marriage.”
She said she asked a Secret Service agent to give the president her letter, but he refused and referred her to a White House staffer. Lee said she refused to give the staffer the letter.
The Obama administration also took steps to block conservative Fox News from White House and administration access:
Here’s @joshearnest in 2009 bragging about how well the Admin had demonstrated their ability and willingness to exclude @FoxNews from significant interviews to the Assistant Secretary of public Affairs #KaitlanCollins https://t.co/o98xlRMJuP pic.twitter.com/NUidMFtfO4
— Rosie Memos⭐️⭐️⭐️ (@almostjingo) July 26, 2018
Then there was Obama’s attack against leakers and the press who would listen to them. Using the Espionage Act of 1917 Attorney General Eric Holder directed the Department of Justice to aggressively prosecute government employees who discussed classified information with reporters.
Jeffrey Sterling, a former CIA agent, was accused of leaking information to NY Times Reporter James Risen. Sterling allegedly told Risen about the CIA’s attempts to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program to New York Times. It was only in 2011, as the Obama administration ramped up its war on leakers. It was then that Sterling was indicted under the Espionage Act. He was sentenced to three and a half years in prison.
Peter Sterne, a reporter for Freedom of the Press writes:
In 2012, after news organizations reported on U.S. drone strikes and the attempts to disable Iranian nuclear reactors, Holder assigned two U.S. attorneys to track down the journalists’ sources.
President Barack Obama strongly supported Holder’s war against journalists’ sources, despite once promising to protect whistleblowers when in office and running for president on the national security scandals of the Bush administration — misdeeds that became public only because of leaks.
“Since I’ve been in office, my attitude has been zero tolerance for these kinds of leaks and speculation,” Obama said in June 2012.
“Now we have mechanisms in place where, if we can root out folks who have leaked, they will suffer consequences. In some case, it’s criminal. These are criminal acts when they release information like this. And we will conduct thorough investigations, as we have in the past.”
Obama’s Justice Department succeeded in putting a number of people in jail for daring to help national security journalists report on classified government programs.
During the Obama administration, the Department of Justice brought charges against eight people accused of leaking to the media — Thomas Drake, Shamai Leibowitz, Stephen Kim, Chelsea Manning, Donald Sachtleben, Jeffrey Sterling, John Kiriakou and Edward Snowden.
The decision to cancel the White House Press Christmas Party is hardly shocking. The overwhelmingly negative coverage of him and his administration is grating. Trump has also twice refused to attend the White House Correspondents Dinner.
Kurtz further writes:
While dropping the media party, the White House is in the midst of a full panoply of other parties this holiday season. Selected media people generally favorable to Trump, including a few Fox News hosts, have made those guest lists.
Obviously, Mr. Kurtz is not one of those considered “generally favorable to Trump”, hence those sour grapes.
Lead Image: Screen Shot from Melanie Trump unveils White House Christmas Decorations