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tv   Washington Journal Philip Terzian Discusses the Press Presidential...  CSPAN  July 22, 2017 8:00am-8:31am EDT

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>> washington journal continues. here toilip terzian is discuss his recent piece that looks of the historical relationship with the washington press and presidents. guest: good morning. host: with unico sean spicer's short tenure? guest: i don't think it was a success. often times new presidents have pressed spokesman -- press n who are veterans of the campaign and not as skilled as making the transition for spokesman a president of the united states. i don't think he was very effective. he was argumentative and easily baited by hostile reporters. job is to make his boss look good. i don't think he succeeded at
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that. host: what you think anthony scaramucci brings to the role of communications director? guest: initially he brings, i assume, the confidence of his boss. white house press secretaries have an ambiguous past. they are in the service of their political boss, but they also have to get along with the press corps. it's kind of a contradictory challenge. you can't satisfy both simultaneously often times and it's a delicate balance. very few bring it off successfully. mr. scaramucci has had a job for less than 24 hours. i am hesitant to say anything except he seems articulate. the question is whether he knows what is going on behind the scenes, which is basically what reporters want to know.
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host: i want to read something from your piece. "while it may be annoying that sean spicer may spin rather than respond to inquiries, or even that president trump manifestly dislikes the press corps, there is nothing essentially new about any of this. the media privileges and access that the value are very recent in the history of press -presidential relations." guest: there has been a lot of talk, especially since president trump was elected about the conventions and traditions of white house press relations. i think it is useful in some the sort perspective -- historic perspective. it is a relatively recent invention. the whole idea of presidents being accountable to a press corps is a modern concept. thomas jefferson did not worry
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about this. abraham lincoln did not worry very much about this. herbert hoover was the first president who had an assistant at the white house are dealt with journalists occasionally. up until eisenhower, which is in my lifetime, you could not quote the president directly from a press conference. presidents would have press conferences, but you heading information. that's where the convention of quoting senior white house officials or administration spokesman came from, which still exists. the presidents and journalists, politicians and journalists across that operate across purposes. there is a natural conflict between them. they have a different function. toview is all presidents some degree dislike and distrust the press. some are a little more skilled at disguising up and others. host: what presidents have
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really navigated that divide well? was a franklin roosevelt spectacular example of that. he had 998 press conferences as president. schmoozing good at the press. he would tell them, i like you guys. there was more political diversity among newspapers. i like you guys, but it is your publishers and so on that don't like me. kennedy, when he was running for president, would take reporters into his confidence and say, what you think about this? what would you recommend i do? he paid not the slightest attention to their advice, but they were deeply flattered so they liked him as a consequence. host: we are talking with the weekly standard's philip terzian . by free democrats is (202) 748-8000.
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the line for republicans is (202) 748-8001. s independent, call (202) 748-8002. you can always reach us on twitter as well. when did the relationship between the press and the white house as it currently exists really start to take shape? televisedould say press conferences were introduced by eisenhower. juste old days they would heard them into the oval office. they would stand around the president's desk and it was all off the record and informal. president kennedy initiated the idea of regular televised press conferences. the press room where they all sit there and spar with sean spicer, and in the future sarah huckabee sanders, that was built over frank members vote'-- franklin roosevelt's old and/or
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swimming pool during the nixon administration. reporters basically wandered around the white house. televisedf daily briefings -- i know there was much distress when sean spicer would occasionally turn off the cameras, but they did not exist up until less than a generation ago. i'm not saying they shouldn't exist. i'm not suggesting it's a privilege that journalists should be grateful for, there is nothing in the constitution about any of this. they are all of very recent vintage. host: we have a video of sean spicer talking about that very thing. he considers it to be a bit of performance art happening at the press briefing room. here he is speaking with sean hannity. [video] >> i think you are very accurate in terms of majority of folks
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now in this -- in the briefing room that are going to journalism. they are not there for the facts in pursuit of the truth. they are trying to figure out how to make it on tv and become a youtube star? there are some good reporters that still spend time getting to know, to learn the facts, get the story out. they should be rewarded and praise for the journalism. it is not about being easy or hard, it is trying to be right. get the story right in a form the readership or the viewership. there are some reporters that do that. but by and large it is about the clip or the click. host: that is quite an indictment of the washington press corps, or the white house press corps. what do you think? guest: i would be slightly more generous about it. i think he is correct about some of the performance art involved. i think one of the developments i have found distressing, at least in my tenure in my career
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is there are certain journalists who do take it upon themselves to be the public adversaries of any given president. whether dan rather during the next and presidency -- it is usually television people. sam donaldson during the reagan years. cnnently, jim acosta at thinks his job is to stand up and challenge the press secretary. i don't think in the long run, and it was an interesting piece in the post the other day by one of their press analysts saying in the long run this is not necessarily good for the press corps. it is a function they really should not be pursuing. confidencees public in their ability to do their job as journalists. host: we have jerry coming from new jersey. he is a democrat. good morning. caller: get money to everybody.
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host: forgive me. caller: i have a question and a comment. where my concerns are is when did you ever in politics see a station like cnn give the answer clinton during the debate to help her against bernie sanders? -- anotheremocrat democratic candidate. i was shocked. the other comment i had is scaramucci. up winning that argument. it just goes to show you can't believe anything anymore. the washington post, they quoted them this morning. are we believing the russian ambassador? if we believe the russian ambassador, the president
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talked, are we believing russia had nothing to do with the hacking? where are we with that because and not getting it. we believe some of the stuff but not everything. we pick the we believe. what is the answer? thank you so much. guest: i think the answer to some degree is there is much truth in the assertion. the press corps -- i've been a journalist all my life. most journalists are democrats. or democratic leaning. republican presidents have a higher threshold, a higher obstacle in dealing with the press for. i think that is a given. is if yought dissent are a republican president or press secretary, you have to acknowledge that and understand it and deal with it. i think in the long-term you do trying to get along
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with the press, trying to manipulate the press, trying to schmooze the press. your fundamental job is to help your boss. you don't help the president by making the press corps a daily foil for public argument. -- it doesnk it does not do i decide very much good. i agree with you. there is this behavior on the side of the press in these matters and they do get carried am -- my although i feelings about president trump he has unquestionably encountered in unprecedentedly hostile press. although most presidents have problems. a harvard study that came out in the first 100 days and found that most of the press coverage of the trump administration was entirely negative. the white house press says they
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are just covering the news as they do in a function of covering the news. with you make about that divide? say wejournalists always don't know it probably filiation is. i can assure you most journalists are democrats. the political culture of washington is generally geared towards the democrats. simultaneously, most presidents have a brief honeymoon when they are elected. it usually lasts a month or six weeks. in president trump's case it independent about six or eight hours of his election. he has not really had much of a honeymoon. they have all been at daggers drawn ever since. i am some degree sympathetic to the white house's frustration about the unremitting hostility
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of certain segments of the press. for heaven sakes, the new york times declared itself essentially part of the resistance. the washington post put on its front page the slogan about democracy dies in darkness. there is an us versus them quality that is new. not unprecedented. it has been there in certain forms in the past, but this is a much higher level. from let's go to ray rockford, illinois on the line for republicans. caller: good morning. this is in regards to journalism. a journalist is supposed to tell the truth and way both sides of both sides ofeigh the story and present evidence. i don't see that happening with our media. they are very, very biased. the clarifying answer i would get is journalists is a
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large term. i think reporters are expected to try to be objective and look at both sides of any given question and not expose their own opinions on the subject. but journalist is an expensive term. i work for a political magazine -- it evolvesined over time but we have a definite political point of view. as to many other publications on both sides of the political divide. when you say journalist, i agree with you. if you are a political reporter covering the white house, the ideal is you cover the white house. that has changed. host: another tweet from the president. "in all fairness to anthony scaramucci, he wanted to endorse me go for the republican primary started but did nothing i was running."
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i think he is referring to his past criticism of a candidate trump. we read the story earlier about how scaramucci deleted old tweets bashing drop. --trump. we have marsha coming from new jersey, a democrat. caller: good morning and thank you for c-span. i would like first to see the democrats -- this is a preface to my question -- and republicans were together for the good of the country. i have hope for this country, but i feel sad for what is going on with president trump. see more firedo because the russia investigation. which may lead to financial matters for trump and his family. this is not acceptable to our
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country. care,ple need good health they need jobs to help their families, we need some gun-control, we need mental health care taking care of an opiate addiction. i would like to have these concerns addressed. again, i have hope for this country. please tell me what kind of help can i have? hope youthink the isld have is that our system a system of checks and balances. the duty of a legislative opposition is to oppose. the democrats in 1950's opposed eisenhower's legislative programs for the most part. the republicans in the 1990's opposed bill clinton's legislative programs. twus ever thus.
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the strength of our system was it is a system of checks and balances. there is a kind of mythology in washington about this golden age 30, 50, 75 years ago the democrats and republicans worked in harmony for the good of the country. they would debate on the floor of the house. at 5:00 they would break off and get together for a drink and slap each other on the back. that era never existed in american history. is a nice idea, and i'm sure there were personal associations among senators and congressmen of presidents and senators. they were friendly, as they are today. but the essence of democratic governance is executives, legislatures, conflict. one party controls white house. that is kind of the genius of our system.
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we don't have a president who can dictate things. we don't have a congress that proceeds unchecked. what appears to be discouraging is actually a kind of strength and our system in my opinion. host: we have a tweet from rick. prior president has ever labeled the press enemy of the people, playing the groundwork for discrediting unfavorable news." we read this poll earlier. six in 10 americans say trump does more to hurt his own cause and he speaks of a half of the administration. 33% says he does more to help the administration. you set your views and the president work next. what you make of his communication skills? guest: well, i give it a next verdict. -- next verdict -- mixed verdict. we recognize frank than roosevelt for his genius in
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using the new medium of radio to advance his interests. that aa feeling generation or two from now donald trump will be recognized -- he is the first that used twitter as a political device. i guess my reservation is, and i am on record as saying so, he sometimes uses it effectively. sometimes i laugh at his tweets. sometimes his points are quite pertinent, but any will number of times he is his own worst enemy. he lacks a kind of self-restraint at times which would probably do him some good politically in the long run. i don't know if anyone in the white house has the standing to tell him so or he would necessarily listen to them. it is a mixed verdict. it is not a badly of
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communicating directly with the american people, but he doesn't always use as skillfully as he might. host: let's go to boston where we have marked on the republican line. -- mark on the republican line. caller: i want to follow up on your last point. i agree. i think the tweets are little , but they are bag very useful and i don't see them as much different then what frank when roosevelt was doing with the fireside chats. we are going over the head of the press, which is what franklin roosevelt was doing at that time. he did not feel he was getting good press coverage so he felt he would take his story to the people through radio. this is what trump is doing with tweets. he is going over the head of the press which is driving them nu ts. i think you should expand it further. i would say have weekly broadcasts and little half-hour
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atments where he would be on the oval office and sit there and tell us what he is doing and respond in that way. just bring it up a notch. like a blog or a podcast kind of thing. i think it would be very effective. as far as the communication changes, i think scaramucci signals a change. i think trump has to go on offense now. he is taking punches and punches. they are clearly trying to take him down. that is their goal, to take him down, jail his family. it is ridiculous. this russia thing is absolutely absurd. once they start looking into hillary and her dealings with russia, the iranian deal, the speeches that bill clinton was paid $500,000 to speak in
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moscow, all that pay for play with the clinton foundation, the mueller-comey connection. total collusion. the collusion with the democrats, that has to be investigated. the caller makes a decent point. ronald reagan initiated the business of having a saturday morning radio speech. all presidents flighted pennsylvania -- flight to pennsylvania to me with real americans. that is a convention of politics. i think trump -- and trump does this to some degree -- he goes to ohio and essentially has a campaign rally. people laugh about it but it's a tried-and-true technique. it is a little different. him, as withith any president, you do yourself goodbye occasionally trying to
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communicate directly to the people. weather with a fireside chat or twice a year and primetime address on foreign policy or something like that, or the saturday morning radio talk. not a bad idea. the news organizations will cover them. the message will get out. host: let's go to lauren from appleton, wisconsin on the line for independents. caller: hello. i would like to make a comment about something. a lot of people -- i heard on fox and friends they were criticizing how about mainstream anya criticizing communications director for criticizing trump. he had every right to do that. the thing about it is it would be wise of trump, in my opinion, to put in a person who did not criticize them in the past.
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it makes it look bad. wouldan spicer said he ban cnn. he wants talked about how he interrupted trump twice about calling cnn fake news. he worked for a neoconservative paper. i would getesident, in trouble if i did not allow you to answer a question i have. i want to say c-span is the best place to hear politics, compared to fox, cnn, and msnbc. thank you. guest: i am actually encouraged by the revelation that anthony scaramucci was critical of donald trump on twitter. i think president trump has penalized himself by being thin-skinned about people who are critical of him in the past who are more than willing to serve him now. all presidents are elected after a bruising -- certainly all
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modern presidents, after a bruising primary process. it is part of gotcha journalism. clintonup what hillary said about barack obama in late 2007. ultimately it is all kind of meaningless. has lost trump, i know the services of various people who would been more than happy to serve their country and would have done him a world of good if they had not been the code o'dause some -- vet because sometime early on they said something unfavorable about trump. mr. scaramucci is guilty of that and trump has taken him on anyway, i think it's an encouraging sign. host: another tweet from karen. "this white house did not have much of a honeymoon he goes on day one we heard the lie, first of many, the inauguration crowd was the largest ever."
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how do you think the white house communications team addressed this perceived credibility issue? size of the the crowd is a good example of fighting a battle and essentially losing a battle that is not worth undertaking in the first place. all press -- the phrase "credibility gap" was invented during the johnson administration. i have always regretted in andica press secretaries especially white house press secretary's essentially engage in spin. they do not acknowledge reality. i have always said if a meteor hit indiana, the press secretary would say the president is very pleased he did not hit ohio and pennsylvania and illinois and we are working with the governor
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s. there is this lack of recognition of reality. i think they would earn brownie points if they said, look, we made a mistake and we are trying to rectify it. we did not anticipate we will lose that vote, but we did and we are trying. in italways have to spen and it inevitably leads to a lack of credibility. i wish the practice was different. maybe mr. scaramucci will do that. i noticed yesterday a few times he said i don't know in response, which i found deeply refreshing, for occasionally just say no comment. not a bad idea. in midland,od pennsylvania where we have mike on the line for democrats. caller: good morning, gentlemen. how are you? host: great, thinking. -- thank you. caller: i would like to know
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what your guest thinks. the comment you made earlier about the old days in the bipartisanship. my neighbor and i speak about politics all the time. we were talking about when tip o'neill was speaker of the house. they drank together. but when it came down to is this the name disagreed with each other but they sat down at the table across from each other and they hammered things out and got legislation put through. nowadays i want to know what your opinion is about citizens united. using big pharma as an example. an article said they pharma spent so much money on lobbying congress that it averages out to be three lobbyist for congressman. 1500 lobbyist for big pharma. it seems like now if democrats and republicans are controlled
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by them, and citizens united has a huge impact on that. a little guy like me, how can i compete with these corporations that are spending millions of dollars on lobbying? 20an afford maybe sending dollars, $40, $50. guest: the notion that tip o'neill and ronald reagan are brothers under the skin and after the debates during the day would get together for a drink in the evening and swap irish stories is utter mythology. it has always been the case. as i say, members of congress now tend not to live in washington the way they used to. it is much easier to find that your constituents. -- to fly back to your constituents. but the parties have been opposed to one another since the beginning of the republic.
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we have had lobbyists in congress and the late 18th century. i happen to think citizens united was a perfectly legitimate decision. partly because there is no reason why labor unions, the trade associations should not be entitled to have a say in public affairs. there is no evidence really, if you analyze it, in american politics of a connection between money spent and results achieved. you can spend a colossal amount campaign,n a senate as michael huffington famously did in california and still lose. corporations and trade associations have lobbyists in washington, but so do liberal organizations, soto labor unions.

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