tv White House Spokesman Sean Spicer Discusses Media Coverage of the Trump... CSPAN January 31, 2017 1:36am-3:33am EST
after supreme court justice antonin scalia at died on february 13, the republican-controlled senate did not take up president obama's nominee. tuesday, president trump will announce his pick for the supreme court. we will have live coverage at 8:00 p.m. eastern on c-span two. and following the president's remarks, we will open up our phone lines and take your comments. , white house press secretary press secretary john spicer joins a panel of journalists that cover the white house to discuss media coverage of president trump. the george washington university hosted this two-hour event. >> good evening everybody. the schoolrector of of media and public affairs. as barbara porter and i like to say, i am a recovering journalist.
i would like to thank you all for being here. at a remarkable moment in our history. and for a conversation i hope is instructive to you, to our theents, and throughout university to those of you who are journalists and to the country because we have c-span and facebook live and a number of other media here. i think we will benefit from hearing from the new white house secretary at a time of some drama. thoseso from hearing from who are journalists a signed to the white house who go there to fromeir job every day and ari fleischer, a former white house press secretary. in the room, it's c-span, broadcasting this this evening. and gw facebook live. i would like to acknowledge a couple of people quickly.
and of course to and foremost to start with the 16th president of the george washington university, stephen knapp. [applause] an barbara porter who is unshakable friend. i would also like to recognize the rain and steve collins, leaders at the university. thank you for being here. we are also joined this evening and i look forward to hearing from him later to get his professor stephen roberts who was four years with the new york times. that is where i met him when we were both covering the reagan white house. you covered how many presidents? >> i cannot remember. >> he does not go back to mckinley. but i look forward to hearing from him. collegeo thank
republicans and college democrats for producing this. thank you both college democrats and republicans. [applause] the fact that this event is presented by this university and by college democrats and republicans as a testimony to what we are all about and why we are here which is to create a , engaging, provocative, and respectful place for discussion and debate. there is arguably no time in our respect.o demonstrate i would ask all of you to show that respect and join in this conversation as listeners and as questioners when the time comes. i would also like to thank jen how then and john perino and the incredible staff who have worked so hard to organize this. it looks easy when we show up
that there is an enormous amount of work. would you join me in thanking the staff. [applause] it has been my pleasure working in washington to engage politicians and others and to meet some truly remarkable remarkableare journalists. as i mentioned, c-span is covering this but i have asked the really, truly remarkable steve scully to make some opening remarks. you may have seen him on c-span. a combines the grace of teacher because he does that and the commitment of the teacher with the commitment and passionate of a journalist as well as the detachment that someone has at c-span. i would like to have steve key at the event and i will be back in a moment. [applause] >> thank you all.
let me underscore a couple of things. respectful. that is what we want this to be. my dad always said you will learn more from listening rather than shouting. respectful for what we are about to do tonight. we want to thank sean spicer. we put this together two weeks ago. we thought this was the right time. we are grateful that sean spicer is here. i want to share with you two quotes that i pulled for the evening. one is from president john adams. the liberty of the press is a essential to the security of the state. civics, youstudied probably know this from president thomas jefferson. toe it left to me to decide have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government. i would prefer the latter. if you have ever been to the white house, if you walk 50 feet
in one direction, you are in the named afterng room james brady. another 50 feet and you are in the oval office. what a night is all about is that intersection between the press and the presidency. let me welcome frank says no back to the stage. sean spicer. we are herephasize, to listen and learn. thank you for being with us. frank says no and white house press secretary sean spicer. [applause] you very much sean spicer for being here. >> thank you for having me. >> how is life? >> really quiet. >> is this fun? >> it is fun.
do, then itwhat you is not really a job and i love doing this. i love being a communicator. this is the pinnacle of any communicators job. two got fun to write -- right into the hurricane? i don't know that i would call that fun. but i believe that if you believe in something and you are fighting for what you believe in and fighting to get it right, then there is an element of fun. i look at this as a cause and a movement. i enjoy it. i think anything you do, you have more people with you than against you. but it is also a challenge. as a communicator, if it was all
lollipops and rainbows, that would not make a challenging. what makes it challenging is explaining complex ideas in a way that every american can understand why you are doing what you are doing. >> that is what we will do in our time here. let us dive in. is us start with what grabbing, disturbing so much of the country which is the refugee ban. you are the press secretary and between negations director. you are doing more than just talking to the media. and to inform people. this thing was rolled out thatut typical briefings happened for the media, without fact sheets, background conversations. job,edia, doing their
could not issue some of the clarifying information and therefore there was an and or miss sense of uncertainty, fear, and chaos. did that contribute to it? was that part of the problem? sean spicer: this particular case was done in a way that if you are going to announce travel restrictions to protect the country, if you announce them and telegraph them two days, five hours, you can undermine the success of the program. it was a unique case in how we had to do it. you are right. normally, you would have given the rollout plan. >> did you anticipate this chaos? >> we did not want to see that. we leave several background briefings right off the bat. i think a lot of this, to be honest, was blown out of proportion. when people understand the statistics -- one, the band
ban deals with seven countries. 320 5000 hour period, people came through our airports in 24 hours. 109 were stopped for additional screening. 109 out of 325,000. but then you look at the poll that came out today, 57% of the american people believe it. -- we aree of it talking 109 people nationwide. is that when you look at the proportion of that -- name another program that you can get that level of success. in terms of its implementation. >> i take your point, but 109 people -- that hundreds of
people -- thousands of people were disrupted by it. google was recalling its employees from around the world. i was at a board netting, at a school where they were worried about a colleague getting out of to run. there is much more that happened here. time itu saw, by the went through 24 hours, it all settled down. what was the other option? to rush it out quickly or telegraph it? >> if this was so urgent and you needed to address so urgently notle to keep out, why saudi arabia? the bottom line is that we
started with the seven countries. review,ring the 90 day -- it is a review process. we don't know when the next threat faces the country. we don't know when the next terrorist will enter the country. the last thing you want to do is to say -- we could have done this saturday and we waited one more day and someone's life was lost. what do you tell those people? though to the say iraqi who translated for the u.s. military for 10 years and could not get in? what do you say to the mother of the syrian child whose husband or son was murdered in syria? how do you communicate to those people who see a cold shoulder from the u.s.?
>> number one, you saw one of those individuals who interviewed and so it -- and said he supported what was going on. how thehe understands united states has to protect its borders and i support donald trump. secondly, our number one the 320 is to protect million people that live in this country. i under -- i understand people may be inconvenienced. but this is our country. our first responsibility is to our people. we have always been a welcoming country. the idea that we should have an open door and let people in, is ridiculous. >> there was an interesting piece that i pulled here on what it takes and what it has taken in the past for refugees entering the u.s.
multiple screenings. interviews. when used in there as a communication director and the press secretary, when you talk about an open door, -- >> i said that you do not treat it as an open door. you have to look at the families who lose someone in an attack or a bombing and say -- could we had done more to say them. yes, then thats is shame on us. >> you are rolling out a lot of stuff whether it is the immigration began, -- immigration ban, or the wall. >> or bringing back jobs.
>> that is a fair point. >> it is never lead with a positive but with the perceived negative. >> i would agree with you on that. >> thank you. >> you are welcome. [laughter] i could turn that back on you and say -- why did donald trump run a campaign that was built on the negative? >> i don't think it was. washave a guy whose slogan make america great again. american streets. the negative.s what about the positive?
what about the workers he is fighting for? >> and that is the marketplace of ideas. the question i was going to come back to is with all of these , negative or positive, ambitious and complicated, as you roll these out, it will you be communicating more completely with the media for the kinds of information they need or do you think they are not necessary? >> over the course of this weekend, we held at least two -- two background briefings for reporters. -- how muchnts access have we given them previously? press always want more.
think we have shown a willingness to engage with the press and to bring -- every we bring the pool in. we have shown a tremendous willingness to engage with the press. this is not a binary choice. we posted for the first time ever -- we debuted the weekly address on facebook live. 11 million views. thisf the things that his socials through media, he can reach individuals and take a message directly to them. the press plays a helping role in democracy but they are not the only game in town. >> you say the press plays a healthy role. the president says he has a running war with the press. steve bannon told the new york times that the media should be embarrassed.
do you think the media should keep its mouth shut? write --an certainly that was a joke. i think what steve was getting at -- kind of like the exchange we just had, if you listen to -- if weappening -- i are wrong, call it out. take the national security thing. language -- the headlines on one network today saying that we are pulling out chairman and downgrading him. it is wrong and insulting. the idea of calling it journalism is pathetic. >> i want to stay on steve bannon.
steve said the media should be embarrassed. he said the media is the opposition party. he says media has zero integrity, zero intelligence, and no hardware. is that showing respect for the media? >> i think steve's position is clear on how he feels regarding media. >> is that your position? >> i understand it. and he has a right to his opinion as all of us do. really hardrked with the president both during the campaign, the transition to implement some great ideas and policies that i think are helping americans. he understands and fights for the working class americans out there who have not had their voices heard. i think when you pick up the p realize paper, it you they are not being straight.
this is unbelievably disappointing. you asked me if my view was his view. i said that was his view. i am not trying to create a conflict but my observation -- these are really complicated issues across the board. kellyanne conway in an interview with the washington post observed that leaders need people around them that can say no, this is not a good idea, this is not working. have you said that to donald trump? >> absolutely. >> about what? >> i will not tell you. i share my opinion and he makes a decision. my job is to provide him with my best counsel.
everyone else. we provide our opinions to him. he is the president. he ultimately decides and we execute his decision. outord is you were ordered after saturday. to observe the crowds. did you say no? >> i did not say no. how toted a strategy on deal with the current bd a cycle that was going on and i implemented that. >> do you regret that? >> i am a forward thinker. >> i take that to mean yes. >> i probably should have taken questions that day. when we woke up that saturday, we had had an amazing inaugural. speech wasnt's phenomenal. i was proud of what he communicated to the american
people. and it was unbelievably disappointing to wake up and see the focus where it was. i think he had done such an amazing job. i look at every event i do -- we went backing, and gathered with the team. regardless of the job you do, if you do not go back and reflect on how to do it that are, it doesn't matter. . think self reflection
i get plenty of fashion tips now. from a studenton i would like to share with you. she asked if you were asked by president trump's to make it a statement that you knew to be untrue, how would you respond to the president? ,> if it was demonstrably false no. what i said at that time was in -- here is thed thing that is so funny.
>> if you look at the statement right said the audience size in person, and then when i said on monday, i added again. show me the numbers that show me viewership wasn't an all-time high. yet again, this goes back to what i said at the beginning. where is the default? it is always know, you couldn't do this. >> that goes with the job. you cover a presidential speech and said, here is what he said. part of the story is, here is what he didn't say. comes with the territory, right? sean: i understand that. but tell me where i was wrong. the numbers add up in the 70 million range. you keep having to say, how many people watched it. show me a number from another inauguration that is greater than that.
you presume and everyone else in that room was, i am wrong until with act the default was you were talking about the ground on ground. sean: that is not what i said. i said audience. facial -- on me for facial gestures. i won't do that again. sean: smile. [applause] mr. obama: let's try this. let's try this. david axelrod wrote this piece on cnn this morning. i broke up -- i woke up us morning, justifying the ,ppointment of steve bannon trump spokesman sean spicer said i am press secretary roger gibbs attended national security meetings "all the time."
that is simply not true. i was not a member of the committee, i sat on the sidelines. he says he was not active in you misrepresented it. sean: by his own admittance, he attended briefings. according to his statement, he was not a mesh -- member of the national security council, so -- but he attended them. we put it in paper that he could attend at them. we were being transparent about it, and now we are being criticized because we did what they didn't do. the most transparent administration in history didn't have him listed as a member of the national securities counsel. he attended them and we said, we are going to have one of the people go in and out of meetings, they should be on paper. for us being open, honest and transparent, we are getting criticized from the most transparent administration in history that didn't list him going in meetings unless media
reported it, which is where it came from. interviewer: i'm a little isfused as to whether he attending and isn't on the council. is there a difference? sean: he has the ability to go to the meetings. to have someone float in and out without anybody knowing, we listed those who attended. he is listed as being able to attend. people can attend the meetings. interviewer: what kind of relationship you want but the press corps? sean: an honest one. -- the pressssed is part of a healthy democracy. that separates our country from others. i traveled the world and you would go into some countries and watch how they interacted with the media. it is what makes our country great. right,s, far left, far independent, online blogs. it is a beautiful thing about
our country. you can say what you want. i also don't want to just let facts get thrown away and get stories written. when i am up there, i am a liar. when they do it, it is a correction on the bottom. they say, what we meant was -- i think there is an unbelievable double standard. when we don't fully explain something, we have no integrity. when they do it, the story has been updated on the bottom. interviewer: there is a difference between an error that needs to be corrected and a statement from a public official , which is supposed to be, and you want to be true. you want credibility. sean: i want to be truthful. interviewer: everybody does. i'm not saying there are not slants or bad reporting, there are. we talk about the media like it is singular. the word is plural and covers a vast range of media. what relationship you want with media? sean: i go to the briefing room
every day. interviewer: is being -- is cnn being frozen out? sean: no. there's a big difference -- they jim had questions -- acosta, despite some of the things he has done, not a question in the monday briefing. i think he misrepresented the facts of the press briefing at trump tower. not just misled, i think he was completely -- i don't want use words -- i would say he misled viewers tremendously. interviewer: for our television audience, jim acosta is here. [laughter] to make clear that he is going to have to stand and respond for himself. out, they are being frozen -- they aren't being frozen out, they ask questions. there is not retaliation. but i won't engage with someone who has no interest in getting something right. at the end of the press conference come he twice interrupted the president-elect
of the united states. i went up to jim at the end of the conference, after the president-elect had gone up in the elevator and told him i thought his behavior was unacceptable. and it was rude and disrespectful. rantold me he went off and three or four time. i told him he would be removed if he acted like a protester. -- he him if he begins that i told him if he asked tough questions i would remove him. >> i never said that. sean: you did. interviewer: you are going to askingugh reporters tough questions of the president, and if he is not going to a knowledge them and you are not going to work them -- >> i acknowledge them. interviewer: i understand. this goes to the core of how you work with independent, accredited -- >> on monday, i briefed for 90
minutes. some odd questions. abc, nbc, there were 49 seats in there. the room has been packed every day -- you can ask jeff for the numbers. it was packed. i was there for almost 70 minutes today. i took questions from far left organizations, mainstream organizations, christian broadcast network, at some point i get it. everyone thinks they are entitled to a question. twos there, we did background briefings, cnn was represented both meetings. i am not sure where this sense of entitlement comes from. they get a question, they get a seat. at some point, where this sense of media entitlement comes from. my job is to make sure we communicate effectively, efficiently. we have gone above and beyond to make sure reporters get access, information, that they are briefed, that we do calls.
that everybody wants something, but i think that we have been extremely generous with our time and access. interviewer: let me pose the question slightly differently. i mentioned some of the comments from steve bannon about this being -- the media are in opposition party, zero intelligence and integrity, comments from the president himself that this is the most dishonest group of people that he can imagine. the director of the committee to protect journeys -- journalists says, this kind of speech not only undermines the work of media, it emboldens autocratic leaders around the world like putin in russia and leaders in by marginalizing independent media. we can't allow that to happen here. you make the commitment now and presshat has white house secretary, you will not be party to efforts to marginalize and i'll add the word, demonize, independent media? sean: what do you mean
independent media? you mean networks? did me an example of what we have done to even bring up the questions. interviewer: i just cited what joel simon did -- said. sean: give me an example of one time we have done that. interviewer: when the president goes to the united states and says to the ceo -- cia that is essentially this role of dishonest people and this is the president, who has sworn to uphold the constitution, including the first amendment with a snarky press, thomas jefferson thought it was a snarky press. that undermines confidence in the institution of the media. not the individuals, but the institution. at some point, there is an obligation in the media to get the facts right. interviewer: couldn't agree
more. i agree with that, and also that you have every right and responsibility, when something is wrong, to point that out. when i was bureau chief at cnn, from white house secretaries screaming at me. that is different than an ongoing running attack on the media as an institution. is it not? sean: and i think by and large when people consistently get things wrong, we have an obligation to make sure people get the facts right. i just cited one. he spent the weekend talking of nationalrector to -- intelligence and the joint chiefs of staff being downgraded from the national security council. 100% false. i called bureaus, reporters and it was like, well, i guess you're right. none of them admitted to reading the executive order -- excuse me, the order. we need to do.at at some point, i think there is a reflection the media needs to do to figure out if they are getting basic facts right. a storyyou an example,
that came out about the briefing the day after about what was going on. early saturday morning, sean spicer shows up to the white house to unpack boxes. i didn't bring a single box until sunday afternoon. i know that sounds like a petty fact, if you can't get something as simple as that right, it shows how much are you really willing to get the basic facts? the facts of most of these stories have unbelievable errors in them. goerviewer: we could back-and-forth on this all night. and i don't want to do that. but those simple, basic facts apply both ways. your is a list of the first -- the enemy, and perhaps, the "washington post" reported it. what donald trump's claims and exaggerations. is, i haveestion said it from the briefing room last monday, we aren't perfect. we won't get anything right.
but there is a big difference between constantly having a negative mindset about everything, what we got wrong, what we didn't do right, as opposed to -- at some point, what did he get done in his first week western mark how many tax dollars did he say it, how many jobs, how many foreign leaders did he reset relationships with? it is never about the good. it is consistently about the bad. the press should be skeptical. it is healthy, part of what they do. but there is a difference between a skeptical press that says show it to me, and the default of always being negative. interviewer: i mean -- i know you need to go, so i just want to do a couple things and say thank you. be foruld your recipe changing that default position to the negative, while still playing the role of adversary and holding power to account? sean: i don't think it is an
adversarial role, i don't think you go insane -- i think the idea -- again, i don't even look at it that way. my job is to provide information. there are a whole host of reporters that say if they take the time to go through the story, we provide sources, background, we say, hold off for an hour and we can get it right for you. reporters that try to do their job well, and there are a number of them, he worked with them to get the story right. my job is to figure out if people want to have a relationship, we are giving them fact, they are reporting them -- i get it, there is analysis that can go on. were they brought in an expert on this or that and said, our analysis shows this. that is totally what is supposed to happen. but the idea that so many journalists have crossed the line to being opinion writers. were they talk about outcomes they assume the happen, as
opposed to an analysis that has been proven or shown by an outside expert or think tank, or some kind of academia. i look at this purely as my job is to facilitate the flow of information out, debate sure that flow through the media is done in a way that is accurate. interviewer: a couple things before you go. the white house press briefing room and the white -- press presence on the white house grounds, i know there was some discussion. is it staying? sean: for now. interviewer: is it there to stay? sean: that is not my decision to make. right now, we're working well in the briefing room. interviewer: do you think having them on the premises is a good thing? sean: sure. interviewer: defining, on the premises. sean: many answer. first day, i took a tour and him walking through and all i kept hearing was reporter after reporter, look how cramped we are in here. we looked at a couple options.
right now, we don't plan on doing anything. reporters love to tell you how cramped we are then you talk about additional space and they don't want to move. get hit for talking about another potential place we could move the briefing room to have morsi. we could have additional space. nothing has been decided. i have a healthy relationship with the correspondents association. we would have a meeting if we ever had ideas. nothing is changing, that we thought outside the box initially and i talked to jeff and his team about options we can do. ways to expand the number of journalists in there, ways to mix it up a little. we are trying to bring in more voices, not less. interviewer: will go to the white house correspondents dinner? sean: i don't know, we're six days in. the idea that is a priority -- >> i'm not saying it is a priority, not given what is going on in the world. but we are chatting. [laughter] thingsut of all the
going on in the world, we are talking about a dinner. interviewer: you're right, maybe this is where we conclude. [laughter] ok -- no its not. [laughter] not where i want to be on that one. what is the relationship that this president wants to have with this press corps in its range, diversity and skepticism? ofn: look, i think in terms his relationship with the press, ,ut with the american people showing a lot of this through action. in deed. when you look at how he has treated the press corso far, we have brought them to most major meetings, given them access -- brought the press upfront on air force one, something i understand isn't done that often. we have tried to go above and beyond. we will continue to do that. iron he of a lot of the questions you are asking me is when you look at the deed we have done last couple of weeks.
both in briefings and in access, jeff's job is to advocate is much as possible. phenomenal job of that on behalf of his brethren in the briefing room and part of the association. you compare to what we have done with others in the pass, we have done it great job. were ironic that when you asking about this, you look at what we have actually done since he has been inaugurated and it has been above and beyond. interviewer: what last thought would you like to leave this room and our audience with question sean: i would go back to what i said. the president is committed to making this country a better place, to lift up americans lives, to lowering their health care costs. he really cares deeply about this and you can see already he is a man of action. you can disagree with his agenda, i get that. as what makes this country amazing. that ian of the day, please don't question his motives.
he truly cares about making this country better for every single american and uniting us. continue to as we watch him in the next weeks, months and years, i hope people give him a chance to show that. when he brings these people in to meet with him, as he did throughout the transition in the first couple of weeks, it is amazing to watch these individuals walked out of the meeting will have never met him before or interacted with him before. it is usually a different impression when they understand how much he cares and what is in his heart. interviewer: the world you are dealing with and the world they are dealing with is the world of instant information, instant opinion, constant conversations in social media and the rest. it makes communicating these things so much more difficult. i want to thank you for coming here and taking my snarky questions and resolving all of this. sean: you've got it. interviewer: and i hope you will
come back again and engage the debate like this. sean: thank you for having me. interviewer: and you very much. [applause] before you go, this one small little thing. what is this business about chewing gum and swallowing 20 pieces of gum a day? sean: of all the habits someone can have, i love to chew gum. iterviewer: i will look -- will look for some correlation there, but i don't think we will find it. sean, thank you. [applause] i will ask our panel to come down and join me here, and we will segue into the next part of the conversation. just sit wherever. ladies and gentlemen, i would like to introduce our panelists.
former president of the white house correspondents organization. jim acosta, who has argument introduced. -- has already been introduced. [applause] with cnn. the former press secretary to george w. bush. [applause] years of experience on the hill. alumnus of hours at the school of media public affairs and now media correspondent with "politico." jeff nation.on -- fair is fair, jim, you get the first shot at this. heard somewe alternative facts there regarding the press conference at trump tower. sayheard sean spicer there he told me -- i said that he
told me i would be thrown out if i asked a tough question. true. here's the quote. this is what -- not true. spicer said to spicer said to d do that again, as in interrupt, i would be thrown out of the press conference. nowhere in there, if i tried to ask a tough question would i be thrown out of the press conference. but he said that. that is an alternative fact. [applause] there,ewer: i have been we have all been there in that press conference and it is a very volatile mix. as you look back on that, did you go beyond where you should have gone, standing up, interrupting, asserting yourself? was that over the top, jim? >> let me answer that in a paragraph, not a sentence. interviewer: short paragraph. >> keep in mind, this press conference happened shortly after cnn broke the story that during an intelligence briefing
that the intelligence community leaders gave to trump. they gave him a two page dossier theetailed information russian government may have about the president-elect and tocern being passed along the president-elect by the intelligence community that it was possible the russians might have information they can use to blackmail him, hold him over a barrel. cnn reported on the existence of a trueory, that was story, not a fake story. that happened. the intelligence community later said, we did do this. my job going into that press conference was to ask a question about all of this, obviously. it was highly important and very relevant at that time because we were very close to this new administration getting going. what happened during that press conference -- you saw, sean spicer, then the vice president-elect and the president-elect come out with this talking point that cnn was engaging in fake news.
lumped us together -- >> as you broke the story. >> they lumped us in with buzz feed, reported on some of the details, a memo that was basis for that two page dossier. cnn did not report the details in the 30 page memo because those were unsubstantiated claims and so forth. so when president-elect trump kept calling us fake news, i thought it was only right that we get a chance to ask him the question. the question was, and there was not only the question about this presentation, it was whether or not it was the question of his associates having contact with the russian government thing -- during the course of that campaign. but he did not recognize you. and you stood up and asserted and asked anyway. to be clear, i did not get up on my feet. i was sitting on the edge of my seat and doing this, saying i
would like to ask this question. he finally said, no, i won't take your question. you are fake news. and i stopped. i wasn't trying to have the last word, but was trying to be persistent. if anyone tries -- looks back over white house correspondents over the years, from san donaldson to others. there have been plenty of times where she has shouted out during press conferences to get barack obama to answer a question. interviewer: carol, if you weren't recognized, would you shout out? what do you think of this as a colleague and president of the white house correspondents association question mark -- association? >> i think it is perfectly in bounds to shout at a question when they are not being called on. in a news conference. it is interesting to watch this
president versus president obama. he would have a list of names, there would be a line, there were a few names he could choose to go to those people and it was very methodical and calculated. this president is a little different. even if you look at the briefings by sean spicer versus briefings, it is different. they are going here and there, it is rapid and moves. it creates an atmosphere in which it is -- its not only appropriate, that it is encouraged to be more aggressive and ask without being called on. interviewer: how to george w. bush do it? how did you do it when you were choreographing all of this question mark -- all of this? >> i'm glad all of you finally know how much you love and miss george w. bush. [applause] [laughter] is that a reliable applause line? never taken out until this
moment. [laughter] times are changing. if i want to be machiavelli and about this, i want to make things look like they are going better on my side of the podium and better on the press side, i would never call on anybody. i would let people scream and shout, because the public doesn't like it. interviewer: they hate it. >> i've been in the middle of that, it is awful. my point is, if you want to have a respect process, it is respectful to have the president do, andbush and obama what donald trump was trying to do in most respects, call on a name. have a list of reporters to call in, but there was no list that day. calling on people, the president calls on people. there should be a respectful, orderly process. if your name is called on, you ask a question.
if your name is not called on, you don't shout for the right to get a question over someone who is not shouting a question. that is how i did it in the briefing room. when you put the names on the list, did you put people on the list who were favorable or like to keep people off the list to make you uncomfortable? lovedl, all reporters george bush. [laughter] himuld make up a list of for reporters to call on in the mainstream media. i picked no favorites. it would be abc, nbc -- back then, we began with a senior wire reporter and we follow those rules. it would be ap and reuters and we would spread it out. what i would also do, and one of the secrets of the white house, there are some 750 reporters credentialed to cover the white house. there are 20-25 mainstream reporters who show up all the time. birds whosome wacko
show up every day to cover the white house. the seating chart of the reporters he should call directly in front of them, abc, nbc, reuters. on the far right to where the president was standing, i made a list of where those reporters were. i call that siberia. him, don't call on any reporters from siberia because the press corps he called onhis, an interesting question. i do want to mention this. carol will have to slip out and it, so i want to get to the bunch. of thethe president white house correspondents association, is there a protocol, something that you as the white house correspondents association feel should govern
both the quorum and assistance from the press corps, recognizing that yes, you have a job to do, but you have a pretty lousy rating and support among the public. you have some things to balance there. the quorum? >> i had a meeting with sean not long after that press conference . not because of that press conference, but to discuss the issue and briefing rooms -- whether the press corps would stay in the briefing room. during that meeting, when he brought up the press conference, my message to him on behalf of the correspondents association was that we would find it unacceptable in all cases for a reporter to be thrown out, and that message, i think came across. well, in terms of -- i think i would fully stand by that. i don't think any of us would find it acceptable for a reporter to be thrown out of a
press conference. in terms of decorum, there are certain rules that are not written down, but ways in which the press when president obama was speaking in the rose garden and reporter interrupted him in his statement. and the press corps would all agree that it is not what you do. we do not interrupt the president. what really matters here is the credibility and the value of the information coming from the white house. the information coming from the white house. what really matters is if the american public is fully and accurately informed. you heard sean spicer disputing
some of the elements of the falsehoods and where they are coming from. how are you approaching covering this president? is this president different from terms ofpresidents in his approach to information, and the media and how do you as a reporter they are deal with it? >> i have only covered obama and this president. and there -- with president trump, there is a lot of smoke and you are trying to sift through it. in terms of the bombastic language about the media and we are the opposition. the accesspare back we have had to this president -- it has been very traditional. and even more so than president obama towards the end. what point -- there is a
that president trump likes us that and away. -- button to away. uttoned away. >> you are saying that despite all of the yelling that is out there, you have good access to the new president. is that what you are saying? >> i would agree with that. people figured out how to set us up so we could not ask a question at the end. i was able to ask the president a question on his way out about
a vocal he had with the israeli prime minister. stuff,oing all of this making policies and we don't get that information for a while. i know sean spicer said we did not want to do it five days in advance. that is a false ways. you can still brief the press. the inability -- no one wants to get it wrong but if you don't have the information about what is actually happening, it makes our job harder. and we are more likely to get it wrong. there are some growing pains there. >> as a media critic writing sean spicer --does
he have this right? the first stop is negativity. one who wants the media to be labeled the opposition party. i clearly want them to be in the white house. quote andon made a said the media should shut up. media, we got it wrong when it came to the election and a big part of it was you can go but you do have to sit back. regarding the executive orders -- we do not even get the actual
text of them until a few hours after they are announced or signed. that is a huge departure from tradition. if we are getting things wrong about policy, -- >> there is a difference between policy and perspective. the negativity of the media is with their attitude towards donald trump. --sean spicer made a point why is the media always focusing on the negative? it is the media's job to report .he news there has been a lot of news in the last week.
assean spicer sees that negative, that is his right to see it that way it is not our about say -- let us write the job proposal because it is a positive headline for the trump administration. it is our job to report the news. the biggest story was the refugee story and that has dominated the news. it has been a negative story for them. >> can you do more than one thing at a time? >> of course. a billionites about different things. changed in terms of how the media will cover this president? i think we have to just do our jobs. president whoa
has a negative tone towards the media or someone who is less so. there was tension with the obama administration. there is tension now. there was tension with the clinton campaign. there would have been tension with a president clinton had she won. but that tensionthere was tensie clinton campaign. is healthy and normal. >> does it matter at all the public trust in the media is at an all-time low? >> sure. >> will you come back another time? goesthink the solution hand-in-hand with the problem you raise. accurately, reports that will boost the credibility of the reporting and the news
organizations that you are referring to. >> i think you are putting your finger on the biggest issue. decades, the two press has lost the trust of the american people. and there are many reasons for that. reporters are helpless to do anything about it. helpless and hopeless. i brought some props. let me show you some. reelection,bush won the front page of the new york on what was arguably the most important day, the headline for bush was -- bush celebrates victory. here is the front page for andident obama, obama underneath it, it says racial barrier falls in decisive victory.
here is the front page when grief andmp won -- glee and you wonder why donald trump thinks the new york times is biased. why are the headlines for bush and obama so neutral? it is compounded when you look at what the press is doing. and i say this with sadness. i want nothing more than the new york times and other papers to be absolutely money i can take to the bank. american trust and confidence in the mass media to rep or the news fully, fairly, and accurately has dropped to the lowest level in polling history. only 40%he problem --
of republicans have faith the press will tell the news fully, faithfully, and accurately. says theyependents want. young people. 18-49. only 26%. here is what the pew research center found just a couple of months ago, they asked voters to grade the parties, the press, and the pollsters. -- 30% gave the republican party a letter -- a f. the press has lost too much of the trust of the public. -- weoblems you will have are going to be hard-nosed on
donald trump. to tellonly going republicans and independents that the press is out to get them. jim, i want to get your response to this but i have said that if -- >> i did not interrupt for a long time. [laughter] >> if a u.s. airline had the approval rating that the media got, they would be flying and the airplanes. when you go out on the lawn, when cnn thinks about connecting to the larger public, do you think about that? how do you win back the public? >> that is a great and profound question. i want to respond a little bit to what ari was saying. i want to ask the people in the audience -- who got the most airtime during the republican primaries?
>> donald trump. >> donald trump. andrew tyndall who measures the number of minutes each candidate gets in the evening newscast, just came out the other day. trump gothat donald twice as much airtime on the evening newscast as hillary clinton. >> did he characterize it as negative or positive? >> negative. did we say that mexican immigrants are rapists in bringing crime into this country? did we in the news media were referred to women as fat pigs? did we say it was ok to grab a woman by her privates? did we say that john mccain was not a war hero? go outsay that you could on fifth avenue and choose someone in the street and get away with that?
no, donald trump said those things. the reason he generated a lot of negative news coverage was because of the things that he said during the news campaign. [applause] --what me ask you this are we supposed to do? are we supposed to avoid the things said about the republican front-runner during the campaign? outrages overlook the and insensitive things he says and just focus on policy papers? is that what we are supposed to do or are we supposed to look at the totality of that individual running for the highest office of the land? the person who wants to be the most powerful person in the world. ouruld commit to you that coverage of donald trump was excessive at times and it was to his benefit. and to the detriment of the other republicans in the field.
at the same time, with that kind of coverage, you will get great scrutiny. there was a press conference at the end of may when i asked donald trump why it was that he could not handle the scrutiny. and that is when he referred to me as a real beauty. that was one of his first attacks on the news media. during the campaign we were called dishonest, disgusting liars, scum and these and crooks. -- and thieves and crooks. >> let me let everyone else respond to that. i think part of the question, and it is baked in, and the reason donald trump's criticisms have the residence that they do is because so much of the
country agrees with him. that is a crisis for journalism. no one is telling you not to cover the offensive things that he says. here is what you have to stop doing and i say this respectfully. if the candidates dom -- --didate speech in cleveland scott pelley, vengeful. george stephanopoulos, painting a dark picture of america. cnn took a poll and it showed 75% of the american viewers thought it was a good speech. >> which we reported. >> but report the offensive things he does but stop telling the american people what conclusions to reach. we do not need the press to think for us. that was the nomination speech.
the press goes into shock when he won big. won.en he new york times -- a dark vision. apocalypticost -- terms. l.a. times -- unusually combative. poll, 65% like what he says. problem --t of the we have become an overly interpretive media. i did a piece on a lot of the anchors and how they reacted. with theleading in news coverage which we see all over the media. seat or fox -- no flag
goes up and that has contributed to the decline in the trust in the media. you look at the rise in the opinion chose. did very well in the 2016 elections. cnn had a billion dollars in profit. ratings were up for everyone. i want to go back to the point where i think what ari is trying to get to is the media misses the story. doing a goodnot enough job of talking to people. i did a profile of a cnn contributor. she lived in the suburbs of pennsylvania outside of pittsburgh. she was writing stories during the campaign. everyone was mocking her.
she has said that a large part of it was that she was just talking to the people. >> reuters comes to this from a different way. -- wereinterpretive your stories written about dark speeches and apocalyptic views of america? i cannot speak for all of writers but one reason i have stayed with them for 16 years is it is a company committed to writing the news straight. >> is there a problem with putting as many adjectives into copy? >> what i would like to say is the media has a responsibility to report the facts. , and mediaf news could make this easier, but consumers also have to pay
attention to where they are getting their news and figuring it out if it is the news publication or not. sometimes, it is hard to tell when you are told -- when you are watching a program as to whether it is a news program or an opinion program. >> let me turn back to jim. minutes, i'm going to ask professors steve roberts to leadoff with some observations about tonight because he has been a correspondent and a student of our political coverage for such a long time. this is a perilous moment it seems to me. we have a disruptive president who does not technology many of
the conventions of washington, d.c. he came here to drain the swamp and he is making changes and some are angry and shocking. we have demonstrations and leaders around the world criticizing him. but the media is not trusted either. who should the public turn to? how will the public know what is real or what is fact if we cannot be informed? how can we make an informed decision. thousandsd a cast of over the course of the campaign. sometimes putting a journalist side-by-side with a propagandist. the public can be confused by this. and we have these kinds of numbers. what should be done? >> this is how i think about this. we are sitting at george washington university. the founding fathers talked about self-evident truths.
self-evident truths are those we know are true. if you show the inauguration of donald trump and an overhead aerial picture of the crowd and you put it next to barack obama's crowd size, everyone in this room and ari fleischer can tell us which crowd is larger, barack obama's inauguration. you have the president of the united states on his first day in office go to the cia and say that the media was coming out to get him and he had a million people down on them all watching him. not true. and sean spicer came out and paraded the media. this is my point. it is up to each of us to determine what the truth is as consumers. the president does not get to decide what the truth is.
>> how does the media regain the trust of the public? >> we the people decide what the truth is. i don't think that can be lost. and consumers can decide where they can turn for their news. you are asking what cnn should do? you heard this from our president jeff zucker also. is it cnn being frozen out from interviews? has said is we are not in the business of access journalism. we are in the business of doing journalism. as you know, it is about developing news stories. that is how we pursue the truth. >> it is much more complicated
than that. what stories? how do you approach them? who -- how do you frame the? if it is just washington talking to washington, we don't get much friday. we are not listening and asking a real diversity. the crisis isnk about the news media. i think the crisis is about the truth. we are going to be in dogged pursuit of the truth no matter what happens to us. and forgive me if i sell my time getting on a high horse. you asked sean spicer if you was going to throw as out of the white house. he can do that and we will set up our trucks on pennsylvania avenue every day. they do,ot matter what because we are here doing our job. and guess what -- being on the theaign trail, to hear
leading republican candidate go after the news media day in and day out. the public'se trust in the media? the crowds were chanting "cnn sucks." >> one thing that is concerning is that many journalists covering the president suddenly felt they needed to have personal security because the referral endangered. is that something you have talked to the press secretary about kerry are you concerned about the physical safety of journalists? i'm concerned if journalists
had to do that. but it has not come up. -- truth is >> we did have security on the campaign trail. >> covering a campaign and covering the white house are very different. was just wondering if it came up in any capacity. ,> the white house press corps when we are traveling, are in a bubble. and we have a secret service agent with us. i don't think it is an apple for apples comparison. what we will be facing now. roberts, you have been listening to the conversation and probably restraining yourself.
start off and then students and others in the audience, if you want to make your way to this microphone. what are your reflections? think we oweg, i sean spicer a debt of gratitude for coming care. beasthe belly of the knowing this was an unfriendly audience. >> i thought it was pretty friendly. >> i give him a lot of credit. one of the important things that he said was that on social media , donald trump now has 50 to then followers and " press, you are not the only game in town anymore." in of the key very will now understanding the role of the press is that barack obama and now donald trump has his own broadcasting network.
he is the trumpet broadcasting network. and he is 50 million followers. is that is a basic truth about today's media environment. the implications for the mainstream media is twofold, one is coming he does not need us. when we covered the reagan white house, on the basic level, even in the bush white house, the president needed the press to be the delivery system for the president's ideas. donald trump does not need the press in any way that george bush or ronald reagan did. >> i disagree. i disagree that he thinks that. >> i think because he believes he did -- he does not need the
toss, he is therefore afraid engage in alternative growth, to decide for himself what truth is. when sean spicer was asked about the question of the votes and how can the president asserted that he won the popular vote. sean spicer said the president believes that. belief is not truth. >> there was no widespread voter fraud. we are dealinge with is a president that has the enormous ability to reach it the public. and he can decide for himself what is true. what does that mean for the mainstream press? i think it means -- the default has to be more aggressive than ever. controlore power to
what people learn than ever. when the new york times uses a why is that justified? because you have a president with so much more power to circumvent the media and more power to divine truth in his own way. the mainstream media has to be spicer complains. he is complaining that the default is negative but it has to be because otherwise, the ability of the white house to overwhelm the press is enormous. i think you made some excellent points. twitter does not get you on the evening news in the oval office signing an executive order. i was in the oval office on friday in the pool spray -- we
call it a spray when the 13 and another -- when the 13-member or larger pool goes somewhere to take pictures and ask questions of the president. i was in that spray on friday. and the president decided instead of sitting in the traditional spot when you're with a foreign leader they usually sit in a chair together at the sort of edge of the couches that you've all seen pictures an of the oval and he decided that day to stand before teresa may in front of the bust
of winston churchill, to make a point. and as we were walking in, he realized that there was a lamp in the way of the shot. and so president trump walked over to the lamp and started to over to the lamp and started to move it. and then asked one of his aides to please move the lamp. that wasn't done in advance. it wasn't preset. it wasn't prethought. it was the president of the united states realizing i want a better picture of myself to go on national news. >> did all the hidden microphones fall out when he moved it by chance? >> he might have been an amateur politician but no one ever accused him of being an amateur tv star. >> i agree with you. >> and he knew this very well. >> his television background is showing and i think that is a way, that is an example of how i just don't think that you're entirely correct when you say he doesn't need us. you're right that he has a way of getting to a broad message with his twitter account. no question about that, and he has used it very effectively. he has done it very effectively. but that doesn't mean that they don't want media coverage of what he's doing. >> of course. >> let me bring hadas and ari into this. >> i'll let the students. one final word on your point. you're absolutely right about the trust in the media, but the attacks on the media did not start with donald trump. >> no. >> no. >> you have had 20 years or more of repeated attacks by
republicans, conservatives on the media. in fact, in the 1964 election, reporters covering barry goldwater, the goldwater press team gave out buttons for the press corps saying liberal media elite. that was 50 years ago. there's been a long history oftainments to undermine the credibility. >> i have my own red baseball cap that says, annoy the media, re-elect bush. >> 1992. i'd like to let you guys quickly chime in and then go to our question. >> one really quick point that yes trump can use twitter and we would all cover his tweets. sometimes people describe it he is trapped in the late '80s. he still very much cares how he's covered. he himself is an obsessive consumer of the media. he still takes phone calls was joe scarborough when he's in
high level meetings at any point in time. he watches fox and friends and morning joe. you have to keep in mind what the president cares about a lot is the media. that's why the media still matters. that's probably if anything it's almost a protection for the media we're still going to get access because he himself cares about it. >> ari, i want to make one other other point and then turn it to you and then to the question. it's also about what is sean and i were talking about before, when the white house puts out fact sheets and background information, it allows empty mainstream media, at least
presumably to incorporate more information in their coverage so that the public can have a better understanding of what is going on. the end of the day, it's not just about "morning joe" or anybody else and opinions and charges and counter charges. we need to inform the publicing about where they're going to war, or what their taxes are going to do or how this latest executive order is going to translate out. isn't that a need for mainstream media or is that not required now either? >> i think it would be very helpful and the white house is interested to do some traditional things like put out the fact shooests, give reporters tips so they can have faster stories as soon as the news takes place. this is secondary. >> secondary? >> because you're missing the person you're covering. the person you're covering is the ceo of a privately held company who became a billionaire used to doing his things way, action oriented ceo. not a traditional politician who knows how to pucker his lips to, have his staff rush out with fact sheets despite it's always been done. >> or to be held accountable for what he does. >> you're missing the bigger story. what trump has done is a blizzard of action the same way a ceo who goes in to take over a company, disrupt the way it's been done and make changing.
> this isn't a company. >> you're missing the mentality of the president. >> i get the mentality of the president. >> my point is he was elected in his mind to change washington, no the to do things is the same way. me of do the fact sheets, do those things. but you're missing the bigger story of why donald trump has done a blizzard of executive actions because that's what he thinks his job is. >> we'll spend about 20 minutes with questions and let everybody get on their way. >> scott nover, i'm the editor of media file based here at gw. my question for all of you is in 2017, with donald trump and his repeated disregards for press freedom and his more or less misunderstanding of the role of the free press, is it the job of independent or of individual journalists to both report stories and be advocates for the free press? is it -- are journalists overreaching when they're serving in an advocacy role protecting their first amendment freedoms?
>> kind of lightning round like so we can get in many questions. i see lots of people there. let's have somebody go after that. >> i think we are advocates for the free press when we do our job properly. i don't think that it interferes all with what we do if we're advocates for the free press. to steve's point about having a big following, cnn has 31 million twitter follows. donald trump 22 million twitter followers. we can go toe to toe. but very quickly, we're all advocates for what we do by doing what we do on a daily basis, absolutely. >> i'd like to take that one, as well. where did you go? >> right here. >> i'm the elected president of a board of journalists that represent the white house press
corps. and our job is to advocate. and i wear two hats sometimes when i'm in sean spicer's office. i wear my white house correspondent hat and sometimes i'll take it off and just wear my i'm a reporter now and would like information for a story or for my own organization. that's ok. it's totally and completely our job to push for. >> for you it is. but for individual reporters covering the white house, is it ok to have both those hats if they're not elected in. the whca. >> i think jim just answered that. he said yes. >> i think the answer is yes. >> great. >> next.
>> i'm casey decker, journalism student here, professor's class. >> apologies. >> you're being graded on there. >> i think it was touched on a tiny bit a couple times but i wanted to ask. -- portions of the american like. >> good question. >> that's the best pitch that could come over home plate for you. >> i think that's the core issue. that's what i've been trying to get at. this is why everybody in journalism that donald trump could the win the primary and win the general and why people were so shocked this could happen. they must be missing something about this country. i think the issue with so many journalists they see things through a lens. journalism school is not going to erase somebody's views. it teaches to you try to be neutral but can't erase human nature. i think the deepest problem is baked into the cake. it's self-selection of who goes into j school and becomes journalists. let me ask this audience a question. how many of you, raise your hand if you would consider yourself liberal on the left side of the spectrum. of those with your hands up, leave them up if you would consider going into journalism. >> you've got a totally self-selected crowd. >> smattering. raise your hands those of you who consider yourselves conservatives. small number. of those are your hands up, how many of you would consider going into journalism for a career? >> there's one over there. >> i mean, this is my point. >> there's a pretty aggressive
conservative press. >> i'm not president trump. don't interrupt me. >> ari, i think i behaved myself pretty well. >> my point here is your question about whether or not people have an outlook reflective of one side, one type of thinking. and that's the core issue. and until journalism has more outsiders than insiders nor ideological diversity, it's going to time to approach these issues there's something wrong with trump and we have to report what's wrong and it's a bias i've seen my entire career as a republican with the way journalists cover stories. >> i disagree. i disagree. >> course. >> not, of course. whether liberal or conservative, if you are a good journalist, you are damn curious. and you question everything, including yourself.
and you push yourself and you push yourself out of your comfort zone and this is a problem that i think afflicts a lot in the media. it's a real problem. there are institutional biases within that they reassert and reaffirm the same story the same narrative. and there are not enough rabble-rousers consecutivetive or liberal who say think of it differently. i'll tell you one quick story. it's an alma mater story and the person i dealt with is gone so whatever. i wanted to do a documentary series on general motors, saving general motors. i was going to have access to the c suite at general motors potentially. i was told americans don't care about factories. americans don't work in factories anymore. that's i was told. where did that come from?
what kind of, what did we lose out on? what kind of thinking is that? that is wrong thinking. that is red state, blue state thinking and good journalists will push themselves, right? they will push themselves out of their comfort zone to say who aren't we hearing from? i don't think that that falls, it, shouldn't fall along ideological lines for people who are good. >> hold on. >> hold on. let me follow up on this. i'm going to give you a specific example particularly on social issues. this is. >> completely losing the lightning round here, aren't we? >> here's how it works. every president has had this is mexico city policy where if you're a republican, you prevent abortion funds, taxpayer funds from being used to council abortion overseas. democrats let it happen. everybody runs on the promise and they sign an executive order. when president clinton ran on that promise to allow funding, here's how he was covered. peter jennings, president clinton kept a promise today on the 20th sfli of the supreme court decision legalizing abortion. when bush reversed what clinton did here's how abc covered bush. president bush made anti-abortion conservatives
happy today. over at cbs with dan rather, today with a stroke of a pen, president clinton delivered on his campaign promise. president bush, he did something to quickly please the right flank in his party. when democrats do it, it's called honoring a promise. when republicans do it, it's appealing to the right flank of the republican party. why? because this is the liberal mind-set of most people, not all but most people in journalism. they will tell you they are neutral and it doesn't see through. it seeps through every day. >> can i. >> let's go back to questions. go ahead. a very important point, how stories are framed, the words used, the way the sides portrayed. >> i'm a gw alum. this question is about journalistic integrity along the lines with what frank esknow mentioned earlier about journalists and pundits on the same stage and so forth.
an economist wrote this week in foreign policy about western institutions that we are the last, quoting defense against trump was the title. the kansas city star reports that in december right after christmas, one of the individuals who was thought to be one of the contacts in the russian dossier was killed. do you see it as your job in the media to, for example, go out and look to see if these individuals who were in the dossier for example, maybe the hotel staff, for example, are still alive or what their status may be? >> in other words to, look into it on our own. >> exactly because we may, there may not be institutional incentives to look nor those types of issues in general. >> i think it's our job as the
media to report the truth and to report good stories. and yeah, i mean i think if the fundamental question is are we supposed to challenge what we're listening to and fact check and be skeptical and go out of our way to find out what the real facts are, the answer is yes. >> thank you. we've got about seven minutes. let's see what we can get done here. >> i'm andre gonzales. i'm a student at smpa. my question is, so just earlier with sean spicer, he said that, "the media must have basic facts right. they must get basic facts right." when director sesno asked him about the seven facts the administration has gotten wrong. he says we aren't perfect. to the journalists on the panel, is this frustrating for you to hear? >> yeah. >> of course, yeah. i mean, we're going to be held to account if we make mistakes no, question about it. i don't know if i agree with the comment that sean made that if it's a correction that we make, we put it at the bottom and if it's the president or the white
house, then we come out with pitchforks and torches. i think that's overcranked as a criticism. and you know, you can just talk to my old boss over at cbs news, dan rather. there was a very big problem with a story they reported on ari's boss and it resulted in a huge upheaval at cbs news. and you know, ari has been holding up these headlines showing coverage for democrats and coverage for republicans. i seem to recall ari, when george w. bush was down at ground zero and had that bullhorn out that the entire country was behind your boss that the point including a lot of people in the news media. and he was not reported in this partisan way that you've been describing throughout this. i just want to say that isn't entirely accurate. i think that you know, there are republicans and democrats who work in the news media. there are colleagues off frank and mine. i've known them over the years. i think we all, if you are at this level, you are striving to give people the news. just do the news.
>> let me take your question and put it to ari in a slightly different way. forget the news media for a minute, if that's possible. but when you were the spokesman at the white house, did you feel that there was a higher standard that you were held to for truth and credibility? >> higher standard than what? >> higher standard and if you are any place else? >> oh, absolutely. sure. it's healthy, frankly. this is where as press secretary my staff would give me something to say, i wanted to know where they got it from because i wasn't going to say it if i couldn't vouch for it. i knew the press would call me on it. frankly, as the a good part of the process because you should never take the podium and say something that's wrong. last week, i did an interview with abc news night line and they were asking me about all the problems that sean and the white house was having. cy referred to sean's briefing on saturday and his briefing monday where he took questions. i said if the white house dropped the ball on saturday, sean recovered on monday and ran for a first down. what did abc news do? split it right in half. white house dropped the ball on saturday. >> really? >> yep.
>> now, i brought it to the attention of the executive producer of "night line". she handled entirely professionally. apologized, immediately corrected on the web. night line corrected on the air the next night. what was that producer in the editing booth thinking to even chop the quote? they knew it was wrong. >> maybe that's a mistake of the head and not of the heart. maybe it was a mistake not to put things through a partisan lens. maybe it was a bad decision. >> ok. i will accept that if you will stop saying sean and the white house lie. if you apply that standard to them maybe it was a mistake of the head and not the heart, if you will do that, i will accept what you said about night line". >> i accept that. >> very interesting conversation. >> progress. >> it is.
>> these words matter. words matter. next question, thank you. >> hi. my question is, in times where you may have a personal opinion on an issue that you're reporting, how hard is it to maintain neutral when you're on camera or when you're writing for a publication and how careful do you have to be to ensure that people don't interpret what you're saying as perhaps taking a side? >> terrific question. the answer is very careful. we are all human beings and human beings have opinions. but i think when you work for work as a journalist and certainly if you work for an organization that is committed to being neutral, then you have to be neutral. and that is, of course that's hard. but it's sacred. me.ed to
>> i think you also have to sometimes place yourself in the shoes of the reader or the viewer and say i'm going to pretend that you know, i am a new york city superliberal person who lives like in brooklyn park slope, whatever. how would i see the story. i'm going to look at somebody lives in flyover country. how do they see that story. and see what biases do they see coming out. obviously, we work incredibly fast paced environment. you would not believe how quickly sometimes editors want those stories. and sometimes that can be hard. and jeff said yeah, your human things come out. what i found really valuable, i recommend all you do this, "the wall street journal" las red feed, blue feed. it goes on and shows you what your facebook feed, for example, looks like if you follow conservative outlets or liberal outlets and you can go based off topic. it is so fascinating especially in the last few days was this refugee stuff to see if you live in, i don't know, deep red texas and all of your friends are super conservative, does your facebook feed look like. for us living in d.c. and new york, that that can be very helpful on that. >> i think we have time for one last question. sorry for the rest of you. go ahead.
>> we'll be around later. >> i'm abby. i'm not a student by i come to all your events because i love it. and i'm actually from deep red texas. and i know that since moving up here, things have been very different account way people are treated, the way people think and perceive stories. and as you guys were talking earlier about how donald trump won because he got those smaller demographics that weren't being represented, how does the media properly represent those demographics and how should they try to you know, get out to the box texas and really understand what those people think and sit in the bar and you know, get their continues on things as opposed to being up here in the north. >> great question. >> we've got to do a lot more of it. i think one of the things that donald trump did very
successfully during this campaign was he tapped into something that is going on at a lot of these rusting old western towns all over that part of the country. you know, these cities and these towns have been hallowed out because the factories have closed and so for the. he was on to something when he went to those voters in pennsylvania and michigan and wisconsin and said i hear you. these trade deals are wrecking your part of the economy. and i think the voters responded very favorably to that. that's a huge reason why he's in the white house. the white house. in terms of covering minority issues and so forth, i think that we're really going to have to stay focused on what is happening to latino americans in this country. this wall that's being built on the border that president initiated. you know, and an immigration officers go out and start looking at you know picking people up and throwing them into detention and deporting them from the country.
are threw going to be going after the right country. that's going to be a huge story going forward. >> ari, you co-wrote a piece in cjr with mike mccurry, republican press secretary and a democrat press secretary. >> don't let that be the last word. >> ok, i'll let you respond to it, ok? then i get a 30-second rebut. >> thank you for doing that. this is why i love journalism. holding you accountable. you -- i want to ask you what the two of youthink and can agree on, some of there is in the article some is not by both the press side and the press secretary side to get more and better information to the public. i don't actually at the end of the day much care, i mean, i do, but really, whether donald trump comes to dinner, where your office is, what matters is is the public informed. what could we do better? >> what mike and i together agreed upon as our recommendation was two things.
one is take the briefing off of live tv. it's become too much of a tv show. mike was the one steve says no. steve scully from c-span says no. so the answer is going to be no. poor mike is the guy press secretary to bill clinton who allowed cameras in the room. they were never previously allowed. they were allowed for the first five minutes but not the rest of the briefing. when cnn was in its infancy and will a 24-hour news hole allowed it to be covered. the idea of covering it live was inconceivable until the monica lewinsky story broke.
that was the first secretary live.ng ever covered what's happened today has become a tv show. the press secretary postures knowing that the president is watching. think about sean having to perform for donald trump watching every day and the press postures and peacocks knowing their editors are watching, their colleagues are watching an they have to ask really tough questions. i would rather lower the temperature and return to a much more substantive briefing where you can use it after the briefing is over but it's not live. i think it would create more substance. secondly, and this is what i think jeff objects to strongly is i propose, mike and i propose what we call democratize the room. bring in different reporters to fill the 49 precious seats that on monday, for example, the current white house press corps as it's constituted covers the briefing. on tuesday, business journalists, on wednesday foreign journalists on thursday the dop come world where you can put liberal think progress next to breitbart and let those guys ask questions.
on friday, you open it up top reporters around the country who don't usually come to the white house. so the minneapolis star-tribune, concentrate newspaper. bee. sacramento bee gets to have a seat in the room and ask questions. you rotate it around. >> what day of the work do student journalists go? >> saturday. >> a good day to go to work. >> you'll be hung over and it will be very easy for the press secretary. [applause] >> and go ahead. >> reaction to it. >> i think it fundamentally misunderstands what the press corps is doing. and i have to say, it surprises me that that suggestion came from two people who worked as press secretaries. because what happens if on tuesday, when you've arbitrary decided it should be business journalist who's populate the
room and north korea launches a missile? do you want the business journalists to make that their story? it's the same question about and i think your point about whether they should be televised is one that reasonable people could have a discussion about. but i have heard one suggestion be let's televise it monday, wednesday and friday and take it off camera, tuesday thursday. what happens it if on thursday is the day that the president wants to announce his supreme court justice nominee? what if there's a terrorist attack, a natural disaster. >> it's arbitrary and it is, it doesn't take into account how the news works. and so i don't think it would work. >> on the tv one, what we wrote is almost with only limited exceptions determined by the white house. if there was a disaster, you would say no, today is a live day. the point being lower the temperature to have a different briefing. > sounds like ari is getting his revenge. >> then say mike too, jim. and point about the rotation, you make a valid point about reporters there every day have a much daily floj. >> because that's the job. >> but it's become a game of gotcha too much.
that's the big part of the problem. some actually have, and to take jeff's point out, some have the knowledge to know what happened last night and three weeks ago. some have been covering north korea regularly. if they do something, they have a knowledge, not all of them. >> i just want to be clear -- >> i want here i'm taking the last word i guess. i want to be clear that i as a reporter and certainly as president of the white house correspondents association support having as many journalists in that briefing room as possible and giving them as many opportunities to ask questions, and sean in his first week plus of giving briefings has called on more people than his predecessor did in roughly the same time. that's positive. but i don't think that shaking up the system in terms of deciding who sits where or arbitrary deciding what group of journalists get to be present
for a briefing is the way to go. >> there's really important things i hope you guys take out of this conversation. one is that everybody here cares passionately about what they're doing and why. and everybody involved in this enterprise should care first and foremost about getting good, accurate, verifiable credible information to the american public and to the world. second, that there is work that both sides need to do to make it better. the media have terrible trust right now. and cannot in my view just go about business as usual and just do their job and we're not here to be popular and so whatever. there's a price that gets paid when that credibility is lost. similarly, if credibility is lost, i've called credibility the indelible ink of anybody who works at the white house. that's what you're remembered for whether it's good or bad. all you've got is your reputation when you go in and when you leave. that's something that matters tremendously. i hope that the temperature is turned down.
it is not good for this kind of name calling and on going sort of thing. president trump just has to get over it. he is in the most criticized job on the planet. it's just going to be incoming all the time whether it's from media or foreign leaders or opponents or members of his own party. you can't tweet and respond to every one of them. you've got to let some of this press stuff go. push back where it matters. call bureau chiefs and scream. hold bad information out. but we need to move forward. to you, and i think this may be the thing that has changed the most. and steve, i don't know how you feel but we -- the real transition of power has been from media and news producers to news consumers. you know where you're getting your information. how do you know whether it's any good? how do you know whether it's a reliable source? how do you know whether you're hearing multiple perspectives? that burden is now on the
shoulders of every news consumer on the planet really. right? because you can click on anything. this matters. i think this has been a phenomenal great conversation with great questions. i want to thank jeff mason for his work at thomson reuters and also as president of the white house correspondents association, hadas gold because she came through us and is now setting the standard for everybody and holds everybody here to account. ari fleischer for coming down from new york for this. it's been amazing and jim who is a colleague and kind of an brave guy. he's a little out there. and maybe he'll survive. so thanks to all of you and thanks to -- >> i will, i will. [ applause ] >> i also want to thank -- i also want to thank steve scully and c-span for being here tonight. and i hope we'll see you all back real soon. have a good evening.
>> thank you so much. [indiscernible conversation] announcer: today, the senate debates the next transportation secretary nomination. senateverage of the u.s. live on c-span2. court justice antonin scalia died, the republican-controlled senate did not pick up president obama's nominee merrick garland. tonight president trump will announce his pick for supreme
court. following the president's remarks we will open up the phone lines to take your comments. >> c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. coming up this morning, president trump's executive orders on extreme venting. the announcement of a supreme court nominee and president trump's cabinet picks. then, we will talk about congressional reaction to the trial administration travel ban. morning. this join me discussion. the discussion. >>