Eliminate daily press briefings and make president more accessible

Kayleigh McEnany had a difficult job in the Trump administration. And now the same can be said for Jen Psaki in the Biden administration. It’s less about the person and more about the role.

White House press secretary briefings are unproductive time-wasters and should be eliminated.

The purpose of the daily briefing is to inform voters on important issues. The reality is that it gives reporters too much time to showboat, giving little consideration to what the American public desires to know. Reporters, friendly to the administration, lob cute, softball questions. Others, gunning for the president, ask gotcha questions. We all know that they’ve all taken sides. They’re either for the president or against him. The biased media is only there to prove what they think they already know, not to learn and uncover new information that will help our country.   

In the reporters’ defense, it’s tough to learn something new at the briefings. It’s not the Psaki administration, and she doesn’t have the freedom to go off script. She’d be fired if she did that. The press secretary serves at the pleasure of the president. He was elected. She was not. The press briefings will always be some type of regurgitation of a policy coming from President Joe Biden. There aren’t usually a lot of new insights.

Voters want to hear from the one they elected—Biden, not Psaki.  

The better way to provide the people with more useful information is to go straight to the president.

That, of course, requires access.

Former President Donald Trump had a tumultuous relationship with the press. The media hammered him, and he was perfectly capable of returning fire. But it never interfered with accessibility. Again and again, he showed up. Each day was a new day to ask questions and get answers. It seemed that every time Trump left the White House, he was engaging with reporters.

It’s a better model than press secretary briefings. So let’s do away with those and replace them with the expectation that every time the president leaves the White House, he must spend a minimum of 15 minutes answering reporters’ questions. 

Leaving for Camp David? Heading to Detroit to tour a Ford plant? Going golfing? Spending time with the Carters in Georgia? It’s all good. But not before you face a watchdog press that’s there to bring transparency to the American people about tax increases, the deficit, the illegal immigration crisis, rising crime rates, the increase in gas prices, foreign policy concerns, and more. That, Mr. President, is your job. Your answers or non-answers to questions you don’t know are coming, until they’re leveled at you, will tell us a lot.

And it shouldn’t be a difficult 15 minutes. It’s easy to tell the truth.

A bonus to this format is the scarcity of time provided. If the press knew they were getting limited time, maybe they’d ask more pertinent questions on issues vital to voters.

Of course, there is a flaw to a system like this. In order for it to work effectively, the president must actually leave the White House on a regular basis. Trump was always on the move, so it wasn’t a problem. Biden, on the other hand, proved during the campaign that he’s pretty good at holing up at home for long periods of time.

His home now is the White House, an even better place to hole up.

If you didn’t want to face the press. Or the American people.

The three most worthless words in journalism

words

Image by Shutterstock.

New words come along all the time.

Merriam-Webster added hundreds to its dictionary in 2019. “Buzzy” is anything everyone can’t stop talking about. You might be “swole” if you have bulging muscles. A “detectorist” is someone who searches for hidden treasure with a metal detector.

Language is something that’s on the move, and it’s fun trying to keep up with it.

But while a lot of great words get added to the dictionary, some should be removed. At least in the world of journalism. Especially with 24/7 cable news, they’ve become huge time wasters.

The word “anonymous” doesn’t belong anywhere in a news story.

The Society of Professional Journalists advocates questioning sources’ motives before promising anonymity. That presumes, though, that the one doing the questioning is unbiased. When some news reporters openly cried while the 2016 presidential election results were coming in, it’s safe to say they’re biased and not capable of questioning motives of anonymous sources. Even when the motive is extremely blatant, like the 2018 New York Times anonymous hit piece, “I Am Part of the Resistance Inside the Trump Administration.”

Sometimes reporters get information off the record. It can help them gain a better understanding of complicated issues. But the information should stay out of print and off the airways until the anonymous source gets braver.

Just say no to anonymous pieces.

“Credible” is another nothing word.

What exactly does it mean to be credible? Apparently, it is something that could be true or might be true or seems to be true.

Which is nothing.

There are some really good liars in this world. So good that they’re credible.

Still doesn’t make their words true or factual.

All it took were “credible” accusers to turn the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Justice Brett Kavanaugh into an unjust mission to destroy his good name and reputation. In the end, no facts corroborated these supposedly credible storytellers and some have recanted their accusations.

Bury the word, “credible.” It just doesn’t mean much anymore.

“Hypocrisy” is a greatly overused word and like all greatly overused words, it gradually becomes ineffective. It gets volleyed back and forth equally well by both Democrats and Republicans.

It’s come up a lot lately, comparing the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton to the impeachment of President Donald Trump. Many Republicans feel the Democrats are hypocrites for not following the same fair process as the Clinton impeachment. Many Democrats feel the Republicans are hypocrites for denouncing the Trump impeachment when they were all too happy to impeach Clinton.

And the talking heads on cable news gladly repeat these hypocrisy rants.

This word, though, is a time burner.

For starters, imperfect human beings will always be susceptible to being hypocritical. Even mostly fair-minded people can trip up and judge others more harshly than they judge themselves. It’s a universal illness.

Then add a layer of politics to the malady. Politics has devolved into a power game, and the constant struggle for power guarantees that the word, “hypocrisy,” will be used far too often.

Let’s just agree that we’re all, in some way, hypocrites. Then, it no longer becomes a unique or helpful identifier.

We can’t control which words are used by the media. As consumers of the news, though, we have the power to tune out and move on when we hear the words, “anonymous,” “credible,” and “hypocrisy.” They’re trigger words for media time that is about to be wasted.

Don’t waste time.

Words are beautiful. Ingest them wisely.