I’m not sure it takes a whole lot of thought.
The media need to get back to what their job really is – keeping the public informed accurately about what’s going on. Forget about currying favor for the sake of currying favor. Forget about being “liked” – being liked in DC is kind of like a Facebook “like.” Nice, but gone once you click the button. And it doesn’t last. And forget about "entertaining" us. You're there to give us the news, not to entertain us (I'm talking to you TV news).
It’s a sign to me that President-elect Trump has yet to name a White House press secretary. He has several “transition” spokepeople now. Who he eventually names will send a strong message as to what respect he has or hasn’t for reporters.
Here are a few thoughts I’d offer the media heading into this era covering Trump:
- Reporters in the White House Press Corps must stick to their jobs – telling the American people the truth about what’s happening with the President-elect and, on Jan. 20, President Trump. Clearly, he’s not changing his stripes, evidenced by lying over the weekend about the popular vote count. Here’s a man who called the system rigged and fixed, yet when he wins he tries to stop others from double-checking the vote. Why does he even care at this point? Nothing is going to change the outcome of the election. In fact, he could even find out he came closer in the popular vote. And, by the way Mr. Trump, you won! Why do you waste your time worrying about what the final vote count is? I know you have more important things to do.
- Tweets will be part of a Trump presidency. So they need to figure out how to cover them without overplaying them. One way might be to report tweets that truly are news (like a new appointment), ignore stupid tweets (like the digs at the cast of “Hamilton”), and, for newspapers, create a column that each morning lists all of his tweets so that they are on record. TV news can do the same but not every hour. You need to stop reinforcing that all tweets are equal and that a tweet will control the day’s news.
- I get why cable news has so many talking heads commenting on the news of the day, for hours and hours. But it’s time to stop. It adds nothing to the public’s knowledge other than harden their own political views which they are hearing reinforced on their screens. Both ways, liberals and conservatives. So what truly are we learning? If cable executives want to set aside time for such commentary, that’s fine – but not 24/7 which it is now. It only serves to blow up unimportant issues and reinforce what people already believe. Please get back to giving us lots of news. We can figure out what to think about that news on our own. And you’ll save plenty of money because you can stop paying those talking heads to be on your “expert panels.” Oh, and that will leave more time for you to report other real news.
- The press should not be cowed by Donald Trump. You weren't cowed by Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan. Until he demonstrates otherwise, Trump is what many of us thought he was on the campaign – a bully who can’t take criticism. But he will be the President. Being President he will be criticized, a hundred times a day. By the media, by his political enemies and his political allies. Just look at what Kellyanne Conway is doing publicly on the possibility of a Mitt Romney cabinet nomination. Boxing in her guy by saying he shouldn’t name Romney, while saying, too, that she’ll support him if he does. Then why are you going public against Mitt now? You make your guy look bad. Or, do your guy’s dirty work. Plus, you’re one of the few who talks to him directly every day so why go on all the Sunday talk shows to deliver such a message?
- The press should continue to push for a protective pool with the President. For some reason news reporters are referring to it as a “tight pool” which is a reference to smaller than usual number of reporters because of the venue – be it Air Force One or a smaller event the President may attend. It is a “Protective Pool”. It is there if news breaks and the president is needed to assure the country (think 9/11) and it’s there in case an assassin makes an attempt on his life (think John Hinckley). It is necessary to keep us informed immediately in case of crisis.
You’ll take hits from the “always Trumpers” but you’re not in a popularity contest. You’re in the information business. While we won’t always like the information you give us…we want and need that information.