How many times in two days should the Press Secretary answer the same question?
Press Secretary Sanders has answered the same or some variant of the question regarding Rudy Gulianni’s comments Wednesday at least a dozen times. She patiently gave the same answer over and over again, “…I do not know; I refer you to the President’s outside counsel.”
What was the question? Differently worded versions of what does the President have to say about Rudy Gulianni’s comments on the Michael Cohen office raid for documents related to a payment made to a Ms. Stephanie Clifford. The latest baiting game is as a result of April Ryan, American Urban Radio Networks correspondent and White House Press corps member asking.
On Thursday during the daily press briefing, correspondent April Ryan asked this; (started at 16:41)
Press Secretary Sanders was already on the last question, Ms. Ryan jumped another reporter who politely waited for Press Secretary Sanders to sort out the confusion. Apparently he was not where she expected him to be, giving Ms. Ryan the impression she had the floor from what we have deduced, listening to the audio. Ms. Ryan did not let it drop, later that day she commented further,
“She went straight to me,” Ryan said. “To say something like, ‘you know, you don’t know me’, in certain sectors of this nation, people understand what ‘you don’t know me’ means. It’s very street. And it leads to a fight, a physical fight.” April Ryan following up on the May 3rd daily press briefing.
What are the problems with this exchange?
- Members of the press corps asking the same question over and over again.
- The apparent misunderstanding regarding who Press Secretary Sanders was calling upon.
- Ms. Ryan pressing her question instead of graciously giving way to press corps protocol.
- Accusing Press Secretary Sanders of taking the question personally after misquoting her which put Sanders in a personally defensive position in order to address the set-up statement.
- Ms. Ryan not letting it go after the presser was over. Rather, Ms. Ryan went on the defensive with subsequent comments and accusations on a CNN panel.
The more I looked into this story, the bigger it got in terms of background information and the less I wanted to report. The job of the Press Secretary is to bring information from the President and in some cases White House staff, to the press. The job of the press is to gather information, ask follow up, clarifying questions and write or broadcast the information. It is never the job of the press to create news or worse, be the news. A fact Ms. Ryan apparently has forgotten.
Despite best efforts in the past, some journalists by way of style or personality ended up being 40% of the news. Sportscasters being the most memorable. Howard Cosell, Harry Carey, Ernie Harwell & Joe Garagiola immediately come to mind. They always put the information and reporting first.
There are many in alternative media who also by way of personality or style are part of the news. This trend is tolerated in alternative media up to a point. When too much personality, schtick or drama competes with the information viewers and readers seek, complaints quickly mount. Due to the nature of immediate feedback, publishers are made aware of the audience displeasure in short order. This is powerful stuff and the audience knows it. The impact is felt immediately unlike traditional media where it takes a little time for the feedback to filter through the various channels, including advertisers. Alternative media in this aspect is much more facile than traditional media.
In the end whether traditional media or alternative media, there will come a point where producers will have to make some choices. Traditional media will have to become lighter on it’s feet and stop the cult of personality reporting. Alternative media will have to tone down the flash-bang and drama or both will loose their audiences. The outcomes remain anyone’s guess.
- For April Ryan, Clashes With the White House Bring a New Kind of Prominence – New York Times
- April Ryan Asks White House If Trump Has Considered Resigning from Office – Breitbart.com
- Omarosa vs. April Ryan: War of words between White House official, reporter – CNN
- April Ryan: I’ve received death threats – CNN