Journalists Discuss Press Access in Trump Administration CSPAN December 10, 2016 5:00pm-6:13pm EST
we are going to roll this panel often bring the next three guest and get started with that in just a couple minutes. >> now a look at whether access and transparency will be an issue for journalists trying to cover the trump administration. this is also from the national press foundation. this is one hour and ten minutes. >> let's get going on third panel of the afternoon, this one goes from now until 4:30. i'm going to introduce our three guests, we'll talk about press
relations between the incoming administration and the press corps, and what things will look like. each of the three guests will give a brief five minutes or less overview of what the main issues they see coming up, i have some questions and i think what plenty of questions from the audience. our three panelists are lucy douglas the dean at the philip , university of maryland. we are in university of maryland space right here. before coming here she was a couple of decades that the freedom of the press reporter. previously that and before that, also a reporter at the st. paul pioneer press. at the pioneer press, jeff mason on the far end is a white house correspondent for reuters and
currently correspondent for interactions with the incoming administration. kevin goldberg, an attorney, but most importantly, he is the president of the chairman of the board of the national press foundation. welcome to all three of you. i thought we would get started with jeff, if you could maybe just give a sense of where things stand between the correspondents association and the incoming administration? jeff: the correspondents association started having communications with the trumpet clinton campaign as early as last spring. we just wanted to get the relationship started to explain what our expectations were in terms of press pool. neither hillary clinton nor donald trump had a full protective pool as a candidate . a protective pool for those who
are not completely familiar is a group of 13 journalists including wires, print, tv, photography, still photographers and radio who follow the president or a candidate of the president-elect, were wherever he or she goes. that means being on a motorcade, and a plain for travel. after president-elect trump was elected he did not have a pool in place because they did not have one in place in his candidacy which was a problem then that got amplified after his election. we have in the last few weeks made progress on getting that pool structure solidified. he came to washington without a pool, he got bad press for that .
i weighed in on the on behalf of association.dents he went out for dinner in new york a couple weeks ago without bringing a press pool, i think they learn from that, from the negative attention and i think they also learned from as no doubt you just learn when you're putting together an administration from scratch, what some of the aspects are that are important. we've been in touch with them and are in talks with them to do that. the pool is not going to be fully formed or protective until they get to the white house because they refused to allow journalists on his plane which we object to. we have made those objections clear. they have made that clear back to us that is not going to change. once he is here then there will be the traditional structure of the pool flying in air force one
and that is not something that i am even putting up as a question mark, because we assume it will be respected. they have told us they do intend to respect the traditions of the white house pool when they come and we right now are taking them at their word for that as well. i've been using the words cautious optimism. obviously there were lots of things that happened during the course of the trump campaign that should give reporters and media organization cause for concern. we have not had a chance to address all of those with the incoming administration. we are having a prioritized list of what is important to us and the pool has been at the top of that list. once we get that core piece of white house press court business locked in i think will be able to address some of the other issues as well.
i think is going to be a challenge. there is no question about that. there are a lot of unanswered questions which we can explore a little bit today. a lot of what we have waiting for us are unknowns. i do not not belong to the doomsday camp despite some of the rhetoric that even people like respected former white house secretaries are throwing out into the dialogue. i do not think it is in the interest of an incoming administration to declare war completely on the press. or to blow up the press room or blowup the white house press corps. if they do, the correspondence association will be ready and i can assure you we are preparing for worst-case and best case scenario. at this point so for the people who we are working with on the
trump side have been working with us in good faith. we want to maintain and develop that relationship going forward. >> thank you. lucy, outside of the day-to-day coverage of the white house, the issue of transparency and access go far beyond that, including the freedom of information act . can you tell me what you see is the most critical issue coming in with the new administration. >> first, thank you for inviting me. welcome to the college of journalism downtown bureau. i hope you had a chance to look around. you are very welcome. we are thrilled that you are here. i thought i would talk about two things, one, but i'm really anxious about. and one that i have a, thank god attitude toward.
reporter or a dealing with media access involving the feds, other than following the president around in the white house and covering all of that, when you deal with the agencies and criminal justice matters, jeff sessions, be afraid, be very afraid. kevin and i have both watched him for a very long time. my eyes and popped out of my head when i saw that he was up for attorney general. his record as far as transparency goes is terrible. his attitude toward the media is irrationally bad. he is nasty, and so for example he went out of his way i guess
six years ago to try to shred effort to pass a federal shield law. the obama administration and eric holder on record supporting. but he was on the senate judiciary committee and watching him in those judiciary committee meetings and watching the way he would get angry when there is an issue involving the media was really a wonder to behold. the other issue that came out when we're trying to get amendments to the federal foil last year he put a hold on it twice. >> those are the ones we know of. [laughter] >> which is actually the bright spot i wanted to mention to you, federal foia, we were able with the help of your employers and colleagues and nonprofits
and other good government folks, we were able to get some amendments to it. try to follow along with me as i explain this. since 1970, the attorney general, whoever the incoming attorney general is when there's a change in presidents and parties, they send out a memo interpreting the freedom of information act. saying that when you have an opportunity to make a discretionary release, i want you to consideration these things when you release it. for example, when bill clinton took office, janet reno sent out a memo that said, if you have the opportunity to make a discretionary release, release it unless you can see there is a foreseeable harm. george bush and john ashcroft came in and they flipped it. and they basically said, if you
can come up with the reason particularly of privacy or national security reason to withhold something under discretionary release, withhold it. obama came in and on day one of his presidency said, went back to essentially the clinton standard. all of the agencies are required, were required to abide by this attorney general guideline on how to follow the federal freedom of information act. the career people would go back and forth like a yo-yo. what legislation, bipartisan legislation was introduced over the last several years and finally passed and signed by the president in the spring that makes the obama holder discretionary release standard, the foreseeable harm one, law.
so that ashcroft cannot come in and just say no, we are flipping it. absolutely it is really deep in the weeds and difficult to follow. maybe more than a little bit reallybut it is really important. there were some other improvements made to foia at the time for example the office of , government information services the national archives has a little bit more power. some of of the things we can talk about if you would like to. services the national archives but, there also was an eric holder memo. the obama administration, remember wasn't all that great , when it came to dealing with media issues. obama went after more journalists and more so-called whistleblowers than any president in history and sucked journalists in with these folks that they were charging with
espionage. in the summer of 2013, after the media really went crazy over the orders for phone records from the ap and calling james rosen from fox alleging that he was a co-conspirator so they could get a warrant and get around the privacy protection act. so the media push back and holder came back with a memo that's been tinkered with, they tinkered with the memo a couple of times, but what we have got from holder is essentially a guideline that says we are not going to do that anymore. we are not going to go after the media for doing their job. again, really important and there's been a lot written about it. what you need to understand is that the guideline, it's not a
statute, and jeff sessions could come in on day one and revoke the whole thing. a lot of people who spent a lot of time working on this thing. it will just go out the window. i would not be shocked at all if that is exactly what he did. >> so kevin, give me a sense -- we were talking ahead of time what's your biggest worry or , fear going into this new administration? >> all of it. it's funny because right where lucy was ending, i'm thinking, our job as attorneys is largely to think of the worst case scenario that can happen and maybe work back from there. i love your optimism, i have some fears because i see a lot of things. and let us be clear, a lot of these fears are actually because
-- you did say something else i was really relevant that i agree with, there are a lot of weredents in place that negative that were started in this current administration, and will be built upon, i fear, by the next administration. i've done a lot of discussion with attorneys for media groups and trade associations, and just sort of so you understand my background, i don't just spend full time running the affairs of the national press foundation, we have a unbelievable staff who does that. i am a volunteer board member who happens to be the chairman of the board. by daylight, media attorney and i represent the american society of news editors and the association of alternative news media. we do a lot of policy work included work on the foia bill and working with the white house correspondents association three years ago on the letter that complained basically to president obama about the lack of access that reporters and
photographers were getting to white house events. and that is a precedent that i think the incoming president is going to want to take advantage of. restricting access, controlling the flow of information, and although it wasn't as apparent in the current administration, one way he will take that is if access will become, not exactly pay to play, but more preferential. it will become access journalism a little bit more than accountability. the problem is that you don't have a lot of good law to push back with. that is my big fear, there's not a lot of legal precedent when the president says, we are going to have a meeting with the japanese prime minister and what you'll get is a handout photo that we wanted to see. you won't see anything other than when we let you in the room when you have that handout photo .
and then we'll control who can be in the room because there's really somebody can people that we can fit in there. who's going to get that? maybe now it is breitbart, not the washington post. that remains to be seen. those are precedents that are very difficult to push down on legally. i think you are with reporters when this happened at at the state level here in maryland and maybe folks were working for cns or others remember when a reporter and the columnists from the baltimore sun were officially told, you will not be let into any event we don't have to let you into. and we will not answer your phone calls. we will answer your request mandated by law, but we want to do anything else love. they went to court and they lost. that's a precedent that his most recent in this area regarding coverage of an executive official. that should scare people. and why? because what you end up with,
and i know people don't want to go to this place, but i'll go there, you end up with propaganda. you do. you end up with a photo being given out that is what they want you to see. wants to ask the question later. so i'm worried about access and retaliation and blackballing. on the legal side, where you do have some precedent to push back foia would be number one. , there's a great body of law that we can use in other areas. as my mentor and former boss one such, the greatest thing this country ever produced is not necessarily the first amendment but an independent federal judiciary to uphold the first amendment. we will put our reliance on court. my fear there is that media organizations do not have the money to pursue foia cases in court like they used to. but we the law there,
may not have the ability to press that law. that is just foia law. you mentioned police investigations l --eaks investigations. another thing i'm worried about is an early statement by the president that the president-elect that he may consider nondisclosure agreements for all government employees which has been , standard within intelligence agencies, but not others. that cuts off is the flow of information to you is reporters into the public. i think that would be an unbelievable way to control information if you want to. i'm not sure it's something we should be happy about.
that's a way to get frivolous lawsuits kicked out of court. my last point which is what really bothers me is a cultural change we may see. things that in prior years were completely off-limits. and again i put my hope and faith that you are right and that they will respect the presidential. i put my hope and faith in the fact that the first amendment will stand up to all of this but what i think you will start to shift, where it is ok to go after the media. where it is ok to disregard what they say, where it is embraced to sue them and physically threaten them.
this all becomes normalized and that is what i fear the most is that we have a massive culture change. i've heard from people about various things that have happened in government over the past eight years and i'm not , going to say this administration has been great, the current one, not they came in with this unbelievable statement, we will be the most transparent administration in history. they wishd one thing they could take back, i think that line would be in the top 10. i think it was an unattainable goal to meet, and i think at times they wish they had never sent it. they fielded in many ways. -- failed it in many ways. but efforts to harness technology to put information out to the public in a proactive manner. a technology think tank, that was a real positive. i don't know if it's going well.
you mentioned the office of government of information services, which is an independent overseer of foia. what will the future independence of the justice department be? what is the future of the open government partnership which created a mentor for our participation in our ability to lead on the world stage as a country committed to transparency? all of of these things were created in the last eight years and they were great. , i don't know if you'll see extensions of them or improvements on them, or other ideas that are similar. what i've heard about all of those things that makes me worry for them -- i have nothing they are going away, and i want them a say -- another have created culture government that i cannot quantify but people have told me
, it matters throughout agencies. that's something i think you you will see a flip on. here youk definition said the 18 office and gsa, was that? >> the general service administration is located at 18th and f street. so basically they build really cool stuff for the government to harness technology and put information out. i think it is really cool what they do there, but it goes unnoticed. that investment in technology is something i would love to see continue. you talked about jeff sessions. if someone asked me what that would mean for foia, i don't know if he cares. but when i saw who his attorney general pick was, i got really scared. >> let me ask lucy a little bit more about the foia reform legislation.
how did that get through congress? lucy: foia truly is a bipartisan effort when you get down to it. charles grassley is a big proponent of transparency. he uses those transparency loves -- laws and self. when he is chairing a committee , he can push those things. pat leahy has been a big supporter. darrell issa has been a big supporter. their motivation was to get information about obama out to the public. so they want to transparency about what the democrats were doing. so there was bipartisan support to get it done.
they did a few other things as part of it. kevin was integrally involved in it. i talked talked about the andumption of disclosure strengthening the office, but they made foia a bit more friendly by creating a portal . hopefully they will be creating a portal. you can also argue that this would be the full implementation of the foia amendments of 1996 if they were to pull this off. they're going to be allowing requesters to ask for a document in one central place, though you don't have to be an expert on foia and sit down and say who would have that record? it should be a lot more friendly. they also has new reporting requirements for what agencies
have to report, what their activities have every year. the most controversial part of the amendment will be that they are keeping a log. they're supposed to be now taking the most frequently requested foia requests and once they fulfill them, they will sequester them and make them available to other people so the next time someone asked for that you don't have to reinvent the wheel. the other thing they're going to do is publicly identify who the requesters are. so the question will be, are we going to come up with a little bit of a delay so reporters can get their stories done? because there has been some reporter push back on that. i think anybody who has the time to go and scan all of the records to find out who has been requesting what, i think on
balance this is a good thing to reveal this information. >> this is the release to one is release to all project. foia andi put it in that is fulfilled that is , automatically posted. lucy: theoretically. >> k could start through this portal, and anybody else who came later could start there without filing a request. of course if your reporter you're going to worry that you're gonna get screwed by yourself. lucy: the identity of the requester -- is this lawfully into affect? lucy: it is signed by the president. we know from other times that foia has been amended. it takes time. unwind this, you
would have to go back and get congress to change the law. foia lookthis makes more robust. will it have the practical impact of fulfilling our request faster? lucy: no. [laughter] no. unless you are asking for something that someone else has asked for. the last time we amended foia there was some things done to , improve that process. when it comes to the sheer volume of what some of the agencies have to respond to and the cost of it, no. federal foia has morphed into a gigantic the. -- gigantic being. it's difficult to wrestle it to the ground. i do not anticipate that was what used to take you three
years to get will only take six months. i think you are probably still looking at three years. >> i know we have a whole bunch of questions, so i will turn the mic over. >> you have seen this thing from trump of using social media to talk directly to the people in other ways that other presidents haven't. personally i don't see it as a harmful thing. do you think he will use that to bypass the press? >> yes. i think that was a trend that started before donald trump, and he's using it particularly effectively and using it a lot. housek the obama white also made use of social media as a way to bypass the traditional
press, but they didn't cut out the press in terms of not doing any press conferences and not meeting some of our other access needs. i think the media has to adapt a little bit to social media but that's going to happen more with the incoming president for sure. i do think that if that pendulum swings all the way toward a trump administration or a president trump only using twitter or social media and completely bypassing the press consistently, then we as news organizations and members of the white house correspondents association in particular will have to have a discussion about our strategy for that. right now we are all supporting every single tweet and right now i think we have a responsibility to do that because that's how
the president-elect is communicating. if we don't get progress in our push for access to him and to members of his administration and other parts of his new white house, then we will have to have a strategy to deal with that. >> he was so successful at discrediting everything they said regardless of what it was if he didn't like it. how else can we fight against that kind of thing? against him discrediting everything we said. clearly his supporters resonate with that. >> i wish i had an easy answer to that question. i think at least part of the answer to that question is reporters have a responsibility
to tell accurate stories and to put in accurate and full context . and i think you are seeing that at least from many publications. the day the president-elect talked about millions of fraudulent voters having taken part in the election, many tes millionsid ci without evidence. that is important and critical and factual context, and journalists have responsibility to do that. the onus will be on us to continue doing that if that style of rhetoric continues in when he is in the white house. >> i have an interesting, well i think interesting thought on that which is gleaned from and prepping for this and another meeting i was having in discussing these issues with other media journalists i read a , lot of articles and some more
related to legal and some were related to how the pushback and one of the articles said visuals will be more important than anything else. i'm thinking to myself that goes back to the access question again. what was the one thing during the campaign that literally tripped him up the most? the video, his own words so i think that's why the access matters. you cannot stop him from tweeting. nobody wants to stop him from tweeting. that would be an assault on the first amendment and a violation saying you absolute cannot tweet. what is obviously going to get more press and groundswell for the media is facts over narrative will be sourced documents against foia, source documents, source video, not he said/ she said back and forth. it's kind of putting everything
out there in front of everybody. i think that's what controls the axis of the videos will be difficult to overcome. >> you mentioned the photos he talked about the issue of the meeting and handouts. we had an issue with that with this white house where the obama white house was relying too much on putting out official photos instead of allowing the pool or in particular still photographers. we successfully got that practice to change. the way you do that is through having some unity within the press corps and the decision not to use the handout. we tried that with the abi photo from the trump meeting and it worked partially. the washington press corps in the white house press corps was respectful of that decision not to use it but we didn't do i
, think a good enough job of getting that message across to becauseeagues in japan the press there is more accustomed to using those photos. once it gets out it's out. ,so everyone can use it. the way i would wrap up that issue is the media and our news organizations we do have some , power there and our power is staying unified, saying no we won't use those handout photos. and this has happened with the obama administration. if the white house says we will let in just a few people from the pool, if the whole pool says we are not going in, we don't accept it if our colleagues and rint cannot go in and we don't accept it if we don't have a camera person. that sort of unity is very powerful and that's one of my
goals this year and one of the goals that we set in july before it won the election that press corps unity and press access would be two key criteria for the following year. kevin talked about obama saying they wanted to be very and how they may have come to regret those words words. we have found access to the federal agencies tightening and then insisting more and more if you are going to interview somebody, you have to have a minder there. in our organization when we report a story like that, our policies to mention there was a minder there. i'm wondering what you are anticipating. >> i am anticipating that to increase.
agencies where it was really prevalent was anything with science that was involved. the climate change people and the health care people. they got really sophisticated in the way that they were sitting on you guys. i would anticipate this going to a lot more innocuous interviews, things that were so unbelievably routine in the past but they are going to try to pull something. and i think your solution was a really good one. every time they do it say, we were not able to talk to the number one guy in the world on climate change without having a public relations person there betting everything he said. or staring him down. when asked a question so-and-so the publicat by relations. i think we have to do more of that, more particularly in the
se days of fake news and all of that. we have to be doing more explaining about our process. the one thing that we hopefully have as journalists is credibility, and one way to get credibility would be more transparent about where you got the information versus these guys who were sitting in their basements making themselves up. hillary clinton has martian parents or something. i think a good word of advice , i know it takes up space and time but mention that , stuff. one thing you said, you were actually in the room with this person. >> this is not something that started under obama. it's been going on for years. it has intensified. it's just something you need to be aware of and it's difficult. again representing asme when we
do this letter, it is kind of an extension of the access letter. 50 groups in total sent this letter and it resulted in a meeting with jay carney and we talked about it. there was some follow-up. there was a lot of things that petered out after a while. on this issue, about a year ago december 2015, i was part of a small delegation representing the amd and also the society of environmental journalists about that particular issue. nothing really happened. they took the meeting. they listened. we talked. but it was a lot of talk and little action. i think that is standard for administrations. they can say they listened. but in reality, nothing really changes. and there's not a lot you can do to change it. what you are doing is one thing.
>> that also brings up the whole non-disclosure agreement. federal employees are theoretically going to be asked to sign, which only intelligence agency employees have had to do in the past. if that happens for routine stuff, that will shut down access to a whole bunch of you guys are used to covering. >> i just wondered what you think the purpose is of off the record meetings with the president-elect and how do you think that will play into the coverage? >> the only off the record meeting that i can think of that has been publicized was the with one the tv networks. it's funny you mentioned that one because when i first saw that meeting was happening, i was frustrated because of what i
just shared with you about press corps unity. and i thought, ok here we go. , the tv crews are going right in and we are not all on one page. the reporting of the results of that meeting made me feel like that's fine. maybe we didn't need to be in on that one because it was not a meeting about access or at least that was not the main thrust of the meeting. it sounds like it was more like opportunity for the president-elect to vent against broadcast coverage that he did not find favorable. but to answer your question i , guess i would say the way "the new york times" handled their meeting was terrific. having some off the record times
with any principals your covering can be valuable as long as it is done, as long as there is also a chance for an on the record piece. i can remember, i can remember even in the 2008 campaign that being a topic when we were discussing the obama press corps about whether we were ok with him coming back to the back of the plane and chatting with reporters. that was only ok if he had already done or if he was also doing a press conference where we could ask on the record questions. i think that same principle applies here. will we have some off the record meetings with his staff? we are working on access issues and preparing the way for white house coverage. yeah.
not all of that needs to be -- they need to know that when they are sitting down with us, that we are negotiating good faith and i'm not going to take everything i learned in that meeting and go out and write a really critical statement. that does not help me either. but your question i don't think was about that. your question was more specifically having off the record meetings with the president-elect. i would just say there needs to be balanced. i would say the balance of the two examples i can think of in the last couple of weeks are the television executives and anchors and "the new york times." times" the "new york example is the one that follows. the one to follow. >> we will start with james. >> this applies to covering trump as a whole. there is a split in the people doing that on how to go about
normalizing the routine in the way that they respect things like for example things that we are used to? for example on saturday they say in the morning we are done for the day but then it turns out they are not done for the day. people have to come back. they say there was a lid on the day. i don't trust it at all. some people in the pool tell me that we need to start respecting it because if we come back and we trust their word that they, that's a way to normalize it. so i guess my question is kind of what is a responsible way to normalize this kind of routine of covering him and not letting them walk all over press access? if we don't respect it then they won't respect it. i was wondering what you think.
>> for anyone not familiar with , anyone not familiar with that term? that is the term we use at the end of the day when the white house, i'll use the white house as an example, the president is not going to do any other movements on or off campus that the press would cover. to be more specific no event on , campus that would be open press. so a lid basically means you are free to go. is on trump tower, should we not respect it because there have been a handful of examples where they have called a lid and something has happened. >> they don't treat them the same way and should we? >> anything besides the term lid? >> i just think it's an example of how they do things in the
future when it comes to nothing to see here. we all leave and then something happens. example, ispecific am not concerned. in fact i'm encouraged by , reporters not necessarily taking their word for it about a lid. i don't say that to be critical of the trump folks. i think part of it is generally -- genuinely they are still the gearing it out, figuring out how we work, figuring out what their responsibilities are to the press. i know the one time that he went out for dinner in new york and did not bring a pool, they had given a lid to the press and then everyone rightfully sort of freaked out when they heard he had gone out for dinner. she hadn't known he was going out for dinner. i don't know what the individual conversations were but if she said she did not know, i take her at her word.
that was poor communication internally. they did fix it the next time, and that is a good thing. when we get to the white house, when they get to the white house and the press corps is there calling a lid right now doesn't , mean that all the reporters go home. it just means many cases the still photographers go home because they probably don't have anything else to photograph. the rest of us will hang around because we are still doing our jobs. maybe some of the folks who might accept a lid as standard at the beginning of the trump administration stay a little bit longer afterwards in case this happens some more. i would say that would probably be wise. i'm not ready to extrapolate the experience, the very unusual experience of covering this transition at trump tower and apply call those lessons to what will happen at the white house.
it's going to be a totally different environment. that said, i'm not naive and i don't think any of us should be naïve about the risks and about them respecting our traditions and respecting our vocabulary and terms like that. i think part of it will mean we have to be vigilant but i think haveirness we also to make sure that they get a chance to get it and to explain what the standards are and what our practices and principles are. we are working on that. >> james? i was wondering in being critical of the media, the idea of non-disclosure agreements with government officials calling late and then going out. for this?recedence
in the past? >> i can think back to when bill clinton signed basically what would have been the u.s. version of britain's official secrets act and only a last-minute intervention through john podesta made him realize this is a really bad idea. i don't think it was intentional. congress had passed the bill and he was ready to sign it. i think it was more he did not think through it. it seemed like a good idea of time. i think that would be a think one example. in terms of other presidents ditching the pool that has , happened. it hasn't happened a lot and it has not been an apples for apples comparison because they had a pool to ditch which we , don't entirely have right now.
we are mostly there but we are , not all the way there. i can think of maybe two times with president obama and that was very unusual. >> [indiscernible] >> i think there was one time and i have to have a sitdown with some of my colleagues who were there for these incidents. i was not there for either of them. a colleague of mine said it happened once in hawaii and i do remember there being at least one time in washington where he went out to get a sandwich or something like that and they had probably declared a lid and he changed his mind and wanted to go somewhere. that may have been a poor choice for someone lower down for calling a lid. i'm not sure. i honestly don't remember the
circumstances. and in both cases, it's always from the press point of view egregious so we would have objected no doubt. i wasn't on the board but i'm sure the board did. but there wasn't sort of a ditch the effort to pool certainly in this administration. that doesn't mean we have gotten everything we have wanted and from my view, there has been an alarming decrease in the number of pool summits that we cover with the president which is not entirely something that the white house has control over but it's an issue we can deal with. so i guess that was a longer answer than i meant to give. there is some precedent for it. it happens occasionally, but there's not a widespread problem that a trump administration could turn to and use as precedent. >> a quick follow-up and i will go to you.
november 16 statement about ditching the press pool at the new york dinner, talked about it was breaking with decades of precedent. what exactly is the history? when did the press pool come into effect and how long has that history been there? >> the press pool has had various iterations for decades. everyone can remember that there was a pool with john f. kennedy when he was shot. it wasn't the same number of journalists that we have now on the pool, and communications were differently. i have heard some fascinating stories about the two wire reporters and the upi guy holding onto the phone and keeping a.p. from getting the news out. that is not a press corps issue
that we have anymore because we all have these. but it dates back at least until then. i cannot give you specific details. maybe somebody else can. >> we are talking 75 or 80 years in some form or another. >> we will go right there. >> i'm a former fellow. i guess i have two questions and maybe three. i wanted to start with kevin because i do want you to go from anye to trump in a minute. the president elect has said he wants to open up libel laws and is there a possibility that happening and how that can impact what we do have broadly
speaking to all of you and you touched on it as well, give us your perception of this era of false news and false statements. a tweet about illegal votes and we wrote the story saying yes the president-elect cited no yesterday we saw his chief of staff dissent him on that point. yes we are writing the stories , but how much of it is really sinking in? are we just writing until we are blue in the face combating things like that? [indiscernible] >> i want to actually say that i think it's a bit of a red herring like the flagburning issue was. say it gives credibility to others. he cannot criminalize flagburning himself.
i feel like allen iversen here. are we really talking about flight burning? this is insane. you did a lot more with the libel laws than i ever did. you have a much better perspective on what can be done. >> you know, he can't really do anything. and as he said in "the new york times" someone pointed out to me that i could be in trouble myself because of things i have said in the past. yeah. [laughter] libel is a state tort. it is a state action even when you have the libel case that venued used them -- is in federal court. you are still relying on state statutes and state common law. so you would have to influence about half the local court judges in the country to make any impact on this whatsoever.
i'm not worried about the libel laws. every once in a while people , raise the actual malice standard issue. that is the standard that was created in 1964 in "the new york times" versus sullivan case where for the first time they applied federal constitutional law to a libel case and where they said in the instance of a public official and then later a public figure, the plaintiff will have to prove that the statement was made knowing it with false or with reckless disregard as to whether or not it's true or false. as agine mr. trump litigant finds that annoying. , in fourould have to
years to pull off something? let's assume for the sake of now, four years to have a sea change in the way libel law is operated throughout the entire country. it doesn't work that way. it just does not. so he can talk about all he wants but it kind of shows ignorance. >> i knew i should do better by giving it to her. >> the thing for me is we were on thea little progress proposal that would be useful for people who were sued. it's a defense that can be used by a person that speaks out on a matter of public concern who is sued in retaliation. many of these suits are a defamation lawsuit. they can be other things. these exist in just under 30 states in the country may or may not apply in federal courts allow you to accelerate the dismissal process and sometimes get your own damages which is unusual under u.s. law.
winning defendants do not get these attorneys fees paid for very often and this would allow that to happen. it's a great thing for people who are sued just to shut them up. i am not sure he would sign that bill. >> i am pretty confident he would not. i think if it had gotten to obama, he probably would have. but 30 states already have these statutes. what it would do really is give those protections to the other 20 states and allow defendants get rid of the cases early. california probably has the best functioning really strong anti-slap statute. it works really, really well. >> which one are we taking next?
>> [indiscernible] countering some false statements also coming at times from the president-elect. >> that is another one where i wish i had an answer. i talked about this earlier today. i think there is a responsibility from both news producers, journalists, consumers of news, and public officials who are covered to be clear about what is actual news and what is not. and we certainly saw over the weekend the potential consequences and ramifications of a fake news story being taken as seriously as this was, which is awful. i don't know the answer. i know some social media companies, facebook included, are taking it more seriously. i think that is good.
-- i had an opportunity to speak to students and teachers recently and encourage both sides to inform yourself about what are legitimate sources of news and what are not. clearly, that is an issue and needs to be addressed. i encourage people to look closely at sources even within stories and to read and think critically. journalists obviously have a responsibility there but it has to be shared by public officials. >> if i can follow on that for a moment. last week, stamford released a study that showed 80% of high school seniors i think it was high school seniors, were not able to identify true stories versus false stories. versus false information.
they do not have the tools to do that. one thing i think we have to do as a society is have a massive education campaign to figure out how to teach media literacy to everybody. there's some foundations and other nonprofits working on this. at maryland, we teach 400 students a year. we have a very popular media literacy class. but there are ways to learn how to read something. the problem with anyone under the age of 30 is they are more likely to believe things they see on the screen. there are ways you can learn how to read something on the screen. look at the url. talk to a fact checker. they have a way of doing fact checking. they describe it as they read things horizontally where most people will read a story vertically. but a fact checker goes and
looks at it holistically and we just have to teach people how to do that themselves. >> kevin was going to talk about kanye for 60 seconds. then we will go to chris and michael. >> there are a lot of parallels celebrities and sports figures. reliance on who is needing you. politicians can bypass you. entertainers can bypass you. athletes can bypass you. ase and others have worked very hard on making sure access via the credentials you get can ensure that you don't give up too much. and that's what this is all about. so you go to a concert like the one a couple weeks ago and the
credentials say when you have to turn off your phone and everything else. whether you are even allowed to take video at the concert. usually it says after the first two songs, they have to leave. we saw what happened at the concert when he went on a rant and basically went off the stage. we saw it for only one reason. because there were people there with smartphones. do you know where there will be the--not be people with smartphones is in an oval office and that matters. what happens with trump in the moment the white house press and photographers walk out of the room and turns running goes completely off message to the prime minister of japan. do you think whoever is his successor will show a picture of the president doing that, talking down to the japanese prime minister? i don't know but i doubt it. that's why this matters.
that is the case you make about why the access matters. kanye to trump. drop the mic. [laughter] chris johnson, michael, time for one more. chris? what is going to happen to the daily briefings in the white house? entirelyt shut it down , nothing on camera. then it could be trump being so vain he wants to be himself every day in the briefing room. >> that's a great question, chris. i will not hide my frustration with the former press secretaries advocating against having daily briefings or criticizing the mainstream media and using the mainstream media
as a vehicle for doing that. i find that frustrating. but i don't have any intel about that from the trump folks. i haven't had a conversation about the plans for daily briefings. i think right now, they are not thinking that far in advance because they haven't identified who the press secretary is going to be yet. and i think once they have at least a structure for the white house press team, that will be the time to have some of the conversations about how you envision the day by day operation going. i don't think anyone in the white house press corps would support getting rid of briefings. obviously we wouldn't. clearly there is room for reform , of some kind if a new president wants to add a gaggle
instead of a briefing here or there and make it shorter sometimes. there might be many in the press who would applaud that. i myself and the white house correspondents association generally are not engaging in speculation about it because we haven't gotten any intel from them. all we have done is seen outsiders who are either trying to get influence for themselves or trying to get clicks on the story throw things up in the air. >> i would also add one thing to what kevin said. i'm not sure that president obama if he went off script with a visiting leader, we wouldn't see that either. >> that it matters. >> it does. but we have to be clear based on the experience of the campaign , the media, reporters, and
journalists have a reason to have concerns about the incoming trump administration and access issues. that said, we have many of the concerns already and would have had many of them regardless who had won. >> i've been making that same argument pre-kanye. >> i think this will have to be the last question. >> you talked a little bit today about how politicians are bypassing the media using social media outlets. at the same time, i think there are two trends going on where there is a proliferation of more ideological news media publications and a widespread belief among conservative voters that the traditional press is a liberal establishment. and i wonder how you see those
trends playing out under president trump. >> run that by me again. how we see the trends of the proliferation of the more ideological news organizations at the time that the public pics the mesh thinks -- public thinks news organizations that may not think of themselves and who's getting access. that trend. >> the short answer is i don't know. my guess is i can see some comparisons between kind of a geographic connection and what i mean by that is when president election, more chicago media came and were interested in being part of the white house press corps. is it possible after trump there
, will be more conservative leaning news organizations that will start covering the white house on a daily basis and perhaps get encouragement from the white house to do so? probably. what we have control over in the white house correspondents association is our standards for pool will notthe change. applysame standards will regardless of the organization and affiliation. we are a neutral association that represents a diverse press corps so we can obviously -- cannot obviously instruct the members on how or what to report . but we have a certain standard for membership in the pool that
gets access at the white house regardless of who is in power. beingsumers of news are drawn to the more ideological outlets and does that continue to increase this polarization, that brought us to this point? do you see a remedy to that or what direction do you think that trend line is moving? >> somebody else want to take that? >> you are absolutely right. we are seeing a trend toward people being more siloed and operating unit at the chamber. i think the only thing you can do is be vigilant in your reporting. back to the goes same thing i said about media literacy. we have to teach people. we are not going to be able to report the truth because truth is so subjective, but we can report facts and realize people
are going to go to their preferred sources of information. but we have to somehow teach and what they are doing -- where these sources of information are coming from. i think it is the only thing we can really do. that, we need to close it down. i want to thank all of the panelists very much. [applause] that's it for this afternoon. are millers and panelists moving up to the national press club next for a recession. -- reception. thank you very much.
>> nbc news reports president-elect trump intends to name exxon mobil c.e.o. rex tillerson as his choice for secretary of state. that is according to two unnamed sources close to the transition process who say an official announcement is likely next week. he spent his entire career with exxon before becoming chair and c.e.o. in 2006. he was expected to step down sometime next year when he reached the company's mandatory retirement age of 65. the texas-born native has no diplomatic or government expense but reportedly has ties to vladimir putin. in 2013, he shared his thoughts on russia and its influence on the oil and gas industry speaking at an event hosted by the dallas/fort worth world affairs council. >> in his wonderful introduction, mr. hunt referred