Saturday, January 28, 2017



Reframing the Narrative: Conservative Media Play Prominent Role at White House Press Briefings

Presser 0127wrp opt(Photo: Cherie Cullen)There's a new media sheriff in Washington, D.C. and his name is Sean Spicer. "The mainstream media isn't the only game in town anymore," Spicer, a former communications director and strategist for the Republican National Committee and now White House press secretary, told Fox News in a recent interview. At what was called his first briefing – which was really his second, having read an incendiary and factually inaccurate message about crowd size at the inaugural and then storming off – Spicer made it clear that the mainstream media will not be treated as deferentially as it has by previous administrations.
Which, when translated, means that such purveyors of misinformation and what Kelly Anne Conway has called "alternative facts," such as the New York Post, the city's ultra-conservative newspaper, and Newsmax, will not only get called on for questions, but will receive priority treatment.
At a subsequent news briefing, Spicer called on LifeZette, Breitbart, and The Heritage Foundation's The Fred Lucas.
According to The New York Times, Spicer has said "that he would provide access via Skype to journalists working for news organizations 'who may not have the convenience or funding to travel to Washington.' He has previously pledged to find space for talk-radio hosts and conservative bloggers."
"The order in which [Spicer] called on people suggests it is a new day when it comes to who this White House considers being priorities in terms of being called on," CNN's Jake Tapper pointed out.
It is not only a question of which media the administration feels it is important to recognize, but it is also about which media will serve the administration best, by shaping the narrative and pushing the stories Team Trump wants to promulgate.
As The Heritage Foundation's Katrina Trinko, managing editor of the foundation's The Daily Signal, and a member of USA Today's Board of Contributors, pointed out, "Spicer is shocking the D.C. media establishment by making it clear that the Trump White House is going to be responsive to the conservative media."
Trinko's recent column, titled "Trump White House's Revolutionary Approach to the Media," maintained that "It's no secret the mainstream media is biased, and there's a double standard on how liberal and conservative politicians are treated," came on the heels of Newt Gingrich's recent talk – the fourth of a six-part Gingrichian series about understanding Trump and Trumpism -- at The Heritage Foundation, during which he lambasted the mainstream media for it's liberal bias.
"But," Trinko added, "the mainstream media also regularly frames its narratives and questions around liberal values and priorities.
"Think about the difference between a question about 'marriage equality' rather than whether all children deserve a mom and a dad, or one about reproductive rights instead of whether unborn children old enough that they could survive if born prematurely should still be aborted."
Trinko makes an excellent point about how the narrative can be shaped by the types of questions that get asked.
On January 23, Spicer gave the first question to Daniel Halpern of The New York Post, who asked "When will the -- when will you guys commence the building of the border wall?"
Jennifer Wishon of the Christian Broadcasting Network was called upon second and she asked about what message President Trump's was sending by his reinstatement of he Mexico City policy, which bans using taxpayer dollars to fund organizations internationally that provide abortions? "Does he see the elimination or reduction of abortions as an American value? And also, here at home, can pro-life Americans expect him to put his signature on legislation that will defund Planned Parenthood?"
Later on, John Roberts of Fox News asked whether the president was going "to take action to green light the Keystone XL and Dakota Access Pipelines?"
As Heritage's Trinko pointed out, those issues are not only important to conservatives, but "notice they weren't framed as being about oh, racism, or hurting women's reproductive rights, or wanting to destroy the environment."
Trinko gleefully concluded: "Choosing to call on a variety of media outlets—both mainstream and conservative—in press briefings, as well as making a place for outlets without a Washington correspondent to Skype in, is just one way the Trump White House is showing it's serious about being responsive to what the people want to know, not just what elite D.C. journalists are interested in."
Gingrich told the Heritage audience that "Trump, to his credit, is threatening both the left and the establishment simultaneously," Gingrich said. "That is so different than anything we've seen in our lifetime."
Citing the "hostility of the left-wing fascists" funded by George Soros, Gingrich said "Either Trump surrenders or Trump wins. There's not going to be any zone of compromise."