White House Grants Press Credentials to a Pro-Trump Blog

The Gateway Pundit, a provocative conservative blog, gained notice last year for its fervent pro-Trump coverage and its penchant for promoting false rumors about voter fraud and Hillary Clinton’s health that rocketed around right-wing websites.

Now the site will report on politics from a prominent perch: the White House.

The Trump administration has granted press credentials to Lucian B. Wintrich, the Washington correspondent for Gateway Pundit, to attend White House press briefings and ask questions of the press secretary, Sean M. Spicer.

Mr. Wintrich, an artist and writer who has collaborated with Milo Yiannopoulos, the polarizing editor at Breitbart News, attended President Trump’s news conference with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, on Monday. He was joined by the owner of Gateway Pundit, Jim Hoft, who posted on Twitter, “President Trump just spoke about tossing criminal migrants and I wanted to stand up and cheer!!”

In a telephone interview from the West Wing, Mr. Wintrich, 28, said he would “be reporting far more fairly than a lot of the very left-wing outlets that are currently occupying the briefing room.” He added, “We will be doing a little trolling of the media in general here.”

Asked what kind of trolling his fellow White House correspondents might want to prepare for, Mr. Wintrich paused. “I don’t want to give too much away,” he said. “We have some pretty solid stuff planned.”

Bloggers and pundits have been granted access to White House briefings in previous administrations, and Mr. Spicer in recent weeks has taken questions from conservative talk-radio hosts and reporters at local broadcast affiliates. But the inclusion of Gateway Pundit has raised concerns that the Trump administration, which has called the news media “the opposition party,’’ is favoring outlets more sympathetic to its views.

On Monday, some journalists complained after Mr. Trump took questions at his news conference only from a local broadcast journalist and a reporter from The Daily Caller, a conservative news site. Neither reporter asked about one of the day’s top stories, the status of Mr. Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.

Several inquiries to the White House were not returned on Monday.

Gateway Pundit has been cited by the Fox News anchor Sean Hannity, The Drudge Report, Sarah Palin and other popular conservative personalities and outlets. Last month, the site drew criticism for disseminating a false report that a Washington Post journalist had photographed the written notes of Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson during a confirmation hearing. The journalist, who did not attend the hearing, was subsequently harassed with threatening voice mail messages and online attacks.

When asked about the false stories, Mr. Wintrich said: “That is the state of new media. When you are trying to get new information out there as quickly as possible, occasionally you’ll get something wrong and have to fix it. That’s how media works right now.” He said that Gateway Pundit had “broken dozens and dozens more factual stories” but did not offer an example when asked for one.

Mr. Wintrich described himself as a Trump supporter and Goldwater conservative who enjoys “simultaneously trolling both progressives and evangelical conservatives.” He said his aim was “to provide fair coverage from the conservative side.”

On Twitter on Monday, Mr. Wintrich posted a photograph of himself standing behind the White House press room lectern, a White House pass slung around his neck. The post from Mr. Hoft included the hashtag #pepe and an accompanying Pepe emoji, a reference to Pepe the Frog, a cartoon character that has been repurposed as a symbol by white supremacy and anti-Semitic groups.

Mr. Wintrich said the inclusion of the Pepe icon was not meant as anti-Semitic. “My grandfather is Jewish, he fought against the Germans, escaped through the Polish underground,” Mr. Wintrich said.

(h/t New York Times)

Black Plastic Covers Windows, Blocking Reporters’ Views of Trump Golfing

Reporters who are supposed to keep an eye on President Trump couldn’t see him Saturday morning.

White House reporters tasked with covering Trump tweeted they were holed up in a clubhouse basement of the luxurious Trump National Jupiter Golf Club & Spa.

That wouldn’t be so bad if the windows and doors weren’t covered with black plastic, blocking all views of the outside world, including Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the golf course.

“Trump’s press corps has been placed in a basement suite at Jupiter golf club,” tweeted Jennifer Jacobs, a White House reporter for Bloomberg. “Black plastic over windows to give Trump privacy as he golfs.”

Later, Jacobs tweeted that Japanese reporters were also in the room, and it wasn’t clear if “US side or Japan side vetoed golf pix.”

Jill Colvin of the Associated Press also tweeted a picture of the doors covered with black plastic. Twitter followers urged the reporters to rip down the plastic or tear peep holes in it.

Trump had set aside two days for Abe’s visit, including golf time. The two headed to the Trump National Jupiter Gold Club & Spa Saturday morning.

Once there, the traveling press pool was escorted into the clubhouse and downstairs into what was supposed to be a room to file stories. That’s when they saw the blackout. “The door and windows are covered with black plastic so we can’t see out,” the official White House pool report stated. The reporters were told they would be there for awhile, according to press pool reports.

And awhile it was according to Julie Dash, a White House reporter for the New York Times, who tweeted in the afternoon that reporters were “staring at black plastic-covered windows” when Trump and Abe arrived to golf.

Later in the day, Trump posted a picture on Facebook and Instagram of the two of them golfing.

Meanwhile, reporters were able to follow first lady Melania Trump and Abe’s wife, Akie, who spent the morning touring the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Palm Beach County.

Trump met Friday in the Oval Office with Abe. After a meeting, working lunch and news conference, Trump and Abe boarded Air Force One for a trip to the president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla.

“Melania and I are hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mrs. Abe at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla. They are a wonderful couple!’’ Trump tweeted Saturday morning.

(h/t USA Today)

Spicer: White House ‘disgusted by CNN’s fake news’

White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Friday blasted CNN for its reporting on an unverified dossier alleging that the Russian government has compromising information about President Trump.

“We continue to be disgusted by CNN’s fake news reporting,” he told the news network when contacted about its latest report Friday.

CNN said Spicer later called the network back to add to his criticism.

“It is about time CNN focused on the success the President has had bringing back jobs, protecting the nation, and strengthening relationships with Japan and other nations,” Spicer said. “The president won the [2016] election because of his vision and message for the nation. This is fake news.”

CNN reported earlier Friday that it had confirmed some of the communications between foreign nationals detailed in the 35-page dossier with multiple current and former U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials.

The items that were corroborated related solely to conversations between foreign nationals. But sources would not verify which specific conversations were intercepted or their content due to the classified nature of U.S. intelligence gathering programs.

The dossier contains about 12 discussions between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals, it said. CNN could not determine if any those talks discussed then GOP-presidential nominee Trump.

CNN’s sources did affirm some of the described conversations took place on the same dates and from the same locations as listed in the dossier.

U.S. intelligence officials emphasized the conversations were solely between foreign nationals, including those in or tied to the Russian government, and intercepted during routine intelligence gathering.

Two officials told CNN some of the individuals whose conversations were captured were “heavily involved” in collecting information to discredit 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

CNN added that officials could not decide whether the Kremlin possesses any compromising information relating to Trump.

BuzzFeed first published the controversial document, which has not been substantiated, before Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.

Trump blasted BuzzFeed as a “failing pile of garbage” in January over the dossier, which alleges Russia’s government has acquired compromising financial and personal information about him.

The president also began slamming CNN as “fake news” during the same press conference after it reported intelligence officials had briefed him over its unsubstantiated contents.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

CNN’s Report

Sean Spicer’s Response

CNN Fact Checks Trump Lie Within Seconds Of His Twitter Attack On Chris Cuomo

President Trump on Thursday blasted CNN, saying host Chris Cuomo didn’t ask Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) during an earlier interview about the Connecticut senator’s “long-term lie” of serving in the Vietnam War.

“Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave ‘service’ in Vietnam,” the president tweeted.

“FAKE NEWS!”

Cuomo immediately addressed Trump’s tweet on the air, with the network re-broadcasting the beginning of Cuomo’s interview with Blumenthal, when Cuomo asked Blumenthal about misrepresenting his military record in the past.

In response to the question, Blumenthal defended his statements that Judge Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, expressed concern to him about the president’s attacks on federal judges.

“Really, the first point that I made in the interview,” Cuomo said on CNN.

“The president, with all due respect, is once again off on the facts. And that’s not something that any of us have any desire to say on a regular basis, but it keeps being true,” Cuomo continued.

“Fake news is the worst thing that you can call a journalist. It’s like an ethnic disparagement. We all have these ugly words for people. That’s the one for journalists.”

Cuomo said the president keeps doubling down when the facts “don’t favor his position.”

“Once again, he doubles down when he’s wrong,” he said.

Trump has repeatedly said he doesn’t watch CNN, but his tweet came shortly after the Blumenthal interview aired Thursday morning.

Trump was referring in his tweet to a controversy during Blumenthal’s 2010 Senate campaign.

In 2010, Blumenthal held a press conference during which he said he had misspoken about his service in the Vietnam War. He was in the Marine Corps Reserves for six years during the war. He said during the news conference in 2010 he meant to say “during Vietnam” but instead said he served “in” Vietnam.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Blumenthal said at the 2010 press conference, according to a Washington Post report. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

A report last year found that Trump has received five deferments from the military draft during the Vietnam War. He was granted one medical and four education deferments, which kept him out of the conflict.

(h/t The Hill)

Media

CNN Shoots Down Sean Spicer’s Latest Lie About Kellyanne Conway

CNN’s corporate public relations department rebutted White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer just 12 minutes after he falsely claimed that the network had “retracted” its claim about the “credibility” of Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway.

In a statement to The New York Times and other publications earlier this week, CNN said that it had refused to interview Conway on a recent Sunday morning program due to “serious questions about her credibility.”

On Tuesday, Spicer falsely insisted that CNN had “retracted” that claim.

“Frankly, my understanding is that they retracted that,” Spicer told reporters at Tuesday’s White House press briefing. “They walked that back or denied or however you want to put it, I don’t care.”

“Kellyanne is a very trusted aide of the president,” he added. “I think for any characterization otherwise is insulting. If they choose not to work with someone, that’s up to them.”

Within 12 minutes, CNN had posted a statement refuting Spicer’s claim.

“CNN was clear, on the record, about our concerns about Kellyanne Conway to the New York Times and others,” a statement posted to Twitter read. “We have not ‘retracted’ nor ‘walked back’ those comments. Those are the facts.”

(h/t Raw Story)

Media

Trump Claims Media is Covering Up Terror Attacks, Citing No Evidence

President Trump on Monday said that news outlets are covering up terrorist attacks without citing any evidence that supports that claim.

He made the comment in a speech to U.S. servicemembers at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida after receiving a briefing and eating lunch with troops.

The president began talking about how “radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland” as they did on 9/11, in the Boston bombings and in San Bernardino. He said it’s also happening “all over Europe” like in Paris and Nice.

“It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported. In many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons and you understand that,” Mr. Trump said.

There is no evidence that any media outlet is covering up terrorist attacks.

This comes after his adviser, Kellyanne Conway, referred to the “Bowling Green Massacre,” which never happened, in an effort to defend the administration’s travel ban. She later claimed that she misspoke and meant “Bowling Green terrorists.” Cosmopolitan said Monday that Conway had also referred to the fake massacre in an interview with one of its reporters.

During the speech Monday, Mr. Trump vowed to defeat the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and also repeated his call for members of NATO to contribute more to the alliance.

“To these forces of death and destruction, America and its allies will defeat you,” Mr. Trump said, adding that the U.S. needs “strong programs” to keep out “people who want to destroy us and destroy our country.”

He seemed to be referring to his travel ban, which has been temporarily halted by a federal judge, and his call for “extreme vetting.”

(h/t CBS News)

Media

Trump Tweeted He Was “Calling the Shots” After Watching a Cable-News Segment

President Donald Trump’s messaging on Twitter again seems to have been inspired by a cable-news segment.

On MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday, host Joe Scarborough asked skeptically whether Trump’s chief White House strategist, Steve Bannon, was “calling the shots” in the White House.

Just under an hour after the segment aired, Trump declared in a tweet that he was calling “my own shots” in his administration.

The Washington Post reported on Saturday that Trump had noticed Bannon’s rising media profile, asking aides specifically about Bannon’s recent Time magazine cover story.

Though Trump’s Monday tweet was vague, the message follows what has become a familiar pattern with the new president.

On several occasions in January, Trump appeared to borrow language and statistics directly from Fox News segments almost immediately after they aired. He dubbed Chelsea Manning an “ungrateful traitor” after “Fox and Friends” described her in those exact terms. And he suggested he’d send in federal law enforcement to Chicago shortly after Fox News host Bill O’Reilly aired a segment on the same topic.

Many top policymakers and advocates noticed Trump’s viewership habits. And they have attempted to get their message to the president through his preferred morning programs.

Last month, for instance, Democratic Rep. Elijah Cummings received a call from the president after addressing him directly on “Morning Joe” about lowering the costs of prescription-drug prices.

And on Monday, the left-leaning veterans group “VoteVets” announced an ad debuting on “Morning Joe” urging the president directly not to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“President Trump. I hear you watch the morning shows. Here’s what I do every morning,” a veteran said while lifting weights in a garage.

(h/t Business Insider)

 

 

 

White House Ices Out CNN

The White House has refused to send its spokespeople or surrogates onto CNN shows, effectively freezing out the network from on-air administration voices.

“We’re sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda,” said a White House official, acknowledging that CNN is not such a place, but adding that the ban is not permanent.

A CNN reporter, speaking on background, was more blunt: The White House is trying to punish the network and force down its ratings.

“They’re trying to cull CNN from the herd,” the reporter said.

Administration officials are still answering questions from CNN reporters. But administration officials including White House press secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway haven’t appeared on the network’s programming in recent weeks.

Spicer, speaking at an event at The George Washington University on Monday, denied that CNN is being frozen out, pointing out that he’s answered CNN’s questions in the regular daily briefings.

But, he added “I’m not going to sit around and engage with people who have no desire to actually get something right.”

The last time an administration official appeared on CNN’s Sunday public affairs show “State of the Union” was Jan. 8 when Conway was interviewed. She also appeared on CNN the following Wednesday with Anderson Cooper, the day of then President-elect Trump’s news conference at which he derided CNN for airing a report that intelligence officials had briefed both Trump and then-President Barack Obama that the Russians might have negative information about Trump. At the news conference, the president-elect refused to take a question from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta, who shouted out to Trump to answer his question since Trump was attacking his news organization.

After his inauguration, Trump has continued blasting CNN as “fake news.”

Since then, Conway, Spicer, chief of staff Reince Priebus and even Vice President Mike Pence have made the rounds on the major Sunday shows with the notable exception of CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper said on his show and via Twitter that the White House has declined his invitations to appear.

“We invited the Trump White House to offer us a guest to provide clarity and an explanation of what the president just did, especially given so much confusion, even within its own government by those who are supposed to carry out this order,” Tapper said on Sunday as he introduced a segment about the Executive Order banning visitors from some countries and putting a hold on the United States’ refugee policy. “The Trump White House declined our invitation.”

Tapper had made a similar announcement the previous Sunday.

Last week, New York magazine reported that Trump’s feud with CNN has roots in his relationship with CNN President Jeff Zucker, a former NBC president who brought Trump’s television show “The Apprentice” to the network. Trump, the magazine reported, has told White House staffers that he feels personally betrayed by Zucker and that Zucker should tilt CNN programming more favorably toward him because of their long relationship.

In an interview with New York magazine, Zucker said he’s not worried about getting access to Trump.

“I think the era of access journalism as we’ve known it is over,” Zucker said. “I think our credibility is higher than ever, and our viewership is higher than ever, and our reporting is as strong as ever.”

“One of the things I think this administration hasn’t figured out yet is that there’s only one television network that is seen in Beijing, Moscow, Seoul, Tokyo, Pyongyang, Baghdad, Tehran, and Damascus — and that’s CNN,” he noted.

Part of the effort to ice out CNN may be related to ratings.

CNN “Reliable Sources” host Brian Stelter wrote in one of his recent newsletters that an aide in “Trumpworld” told him that his ratings would likely be hurt “because no Trump administration officials had agreed to be interviewed.” Stelter said in that newsletter that his ratings were in fact his highest since last November’s election coverage at 1.3 million viewers.

It’s hard to tell whether “State of the Union” ratings have been affected by the lack of Trump officials, considering it’s less than two weeks since theinauguration. While far behind the broadcast shows and “Fox & Friends” on cable news, the past two weeks of “State of the Union” have seen higher ratings than on Jan. 8, the most recent time a Trump official appeared. They’ve also won the demo (the key age group advertisers use) over the past two weeks, and last Sunday the show had 1.25 million viewers during the 9 a.m. broadcast, and 1.42 million viewers in the noon rebroadcast.

It’s not unusual for an administration to tangle with certain outlets. The Obama administration, at times, had a rocky relationship with Fox News and limited its officials from appearing on its programs. Former Obama White House Communications Director Anita Dunn told The New York Times in 2009 that they were going to treat Fox “the way we would treat an opponent.”

“As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave,” she said at the time.

A former official in the Obama administration acknowledged that they had their “battles with Fox,” and that there may have been some times where “we sent people on other networks and not on Fox.” But as a general rule, the official said, officials would go on the network.

“I think, in my hazy recollection is it would be unusual to do all [the networks] except one. What drives that is sometimes amount of time available to the person doing them,” the official said. “If they are stiffing CNN intentionally, that is different than what normally happens.”

A spokesperson for Fox News did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A CNN spokeswoman declined to comment.

(h/t Politico)

Update

On Wednesday, the day after this article was published, the White House made Dr. Sebastian Gorka, a Deputy Assistant to the President for national security available for an interview.

Kellyanne Conway: Reporters Who ‘Talked Smack’ About Trump Should Be Fired

Kellyanne Conway, senior adviser to President Donald Trump, on Sunday continued the administration’s attack against the media by claiming that network television reporters and commentators who “talked smack” about Trump before the election should be fired.

“Not one network person has been let go. Not one silly political analyst and pundit who talked smack all day long about Donald Trump has been let go,” Conway said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I’m too polite to mention their names, but they know who they are, and they are all wondering who will be the first to go. The election was three months ago. None of them have been let go.”

She added that the networks should be “cleaning house,” firing “these people who said things that just weren’t true.”

Conway accused the media of focusing too much attention on her attempt last week to defend press secretary Sean Spicer flagrantly lying to reporters — by claiming he was stating “alternative facts.”Trump and his administration spent much of his first week in office antagonizing the media. In his first White House press briefing on Monday, Spicer spent several minutes on what he deemed “demoralizing” coverage, and continued to defend his lying by claiming that “we can disagree with the facts.”

In an interview with the New York Times on Wednesday, chief strategist Steve Bannon, who previously ran Breitbart, a site that traffics in white nationalism, called the media “the opposition party” and said it should be silenced.

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Bannon said.

(h/t Huffington Post)

Media

Trump Attacks NY Times, Washington Post in Tweets

President Trump took to Twitter early Saturday morning to attack two of the nation’s most prominent newspapers, the New York Times and Washington Post.

“The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!” Trump tweeted just after 8 a.m. Eastern on Saturday.

“Thr coverage about me in the @nytimes and the @washingtonpost gas been so false and angry that the times actually apologized to its … dwindling subscribers and readers.They got me wrong right from the beginning and still have not changed course, and never will. DISHONEST,” he added.

It was not immediately apparent what prompted Trump to launch his attacks. He frequently attacks the media in general and has specifically singled out both the Times and Post before, as well as CNN, NBC News, Fox News, BuzzFeed and others.

Both newspapers closely covered Trump’s Friday signing of an executive order suspending refugee entry into the U.S. and barring immigration from seven Muslim nations.

Despite his regular attacks, he granted an interview to the Times days ago.

(h/t The Hill)

 

 

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