Trump aide Conway says media should show ‘more respect’ after White House bars reporter from event

Just hours after the White House banned a CNN reporter from attending a press event with President Donald Trump, adviser Kellyanne Conway on Thursday berated the news media, claiming that “shouting” and “pouting” reporters should show more “civility” and “respect” toward the administration.

When asked Thursday why Kaitlan Collins had been booted from a Rose Garden event a day earlier after she peppered the president with questions on Russia and Michael Cohen, Conway, counselor to Trump, responded that unruly reporters were to blame for the incident.

“I think that the question isn’t are the press allowed to ask questions, this president obviously isn’t afraid of questions. We answer them routinely,” she told reporters gathered on the White House lawn. “And that incident aside, just being polite to the process, to the presidency, to the protocol, and not shouting questions long after the press has politely been asked to leave, long after you’ve had opportunity to be there with the president, I think it’s a very reasonable request.”

“And that incident aside, I’m just speaking more broadly, the civility that you all call for sometimes when you’re in your broadcasts, I think it should start here at the White House, and just show a little bit more respect,” Conway continued.

“I think it’s the shouting and the pouting long after the press corps has been politely asked to leave the room,” she said.

Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive who Trump tapped earlier this month as his deputy chief of staff for communications, also weighed in, casting doubt on the way the incident had been portrayed in the news media and telling reporters to ask Collins if anyone from the White House had used the word “ban” when not allowing her in.

Collins had served as the network television “pool reporter” during an Oval Office photo op with Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker Wednesday, meaning she was asking questions on behalf of several TV news organizations.

[NBC News]

Kellyanne Conway cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars with trips on private jets

Kellyanne Conway traveled at least four times at taxpayer expense with former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price — and congressional Democrats want an explanation.

Price resigned Sept. 29 over his use of taxpayer-funded private jets during his seven months in office, and he has repaid a fraction so far of his travel expenses, according to Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee.

The Department of Treasury has received three checks from Price, who now works as an adviser for Jackson Healthcare, totaling $59,389.97 as reimbursement, according to Cummings.

HHS documents confirm Conway, the former Trump campaign manager and now a senior White House adviser, traveled along with Price at least four times between May and September at a cost to taxpayers of tens of thousands of dollars.

Conway was joined on at least one of those flights by her staff, and she and Price also traveled with other unspecified White House officials.

The cost of those flights to taxpayers was at least $59,101.35, according to Cummings.

Other travel expenses were not provided to the committee.

[Raw Story]

Kellyanne Conway found to have violated Hatch Act

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway violated the Hatch Act on two occasions, the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) informed the Trump administration Tuesday.

Appearing in her official capacity, Conway endorsed and advocated against political candidates, the watchdog said, referring its findings to President Trump “for appropriate disciplinary action.”

The violations occurred during two television appearances in 2017, one on Fox News’s “Fox & Friends,” and one on CNN’s “New Day.”

“While the Hatch Act allows federal employees to express their views about candidates and political issues as private citizens, it restricts employees from using their official government positions for partisan political purposes, including by trying to influence partisan elections,” OSC says in its report.

“Ms. Conway’s statements during the ‘Fox & Friends’ and ‘New Day’ interviews impermissibly mixed official government business with political views about candidates in the Alabama special election for U.S. Senate.”

The report goes on to state that Conway received “significant training” on the Hatch Act and possible violations. OSC says it gave Conway, a former GOP pollster who served as Trump’s campaign manager, the opportunity to respond as part of its report, but she did not.

The White House rejected the report’s findings, saying “Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate” in a statement provided to reporters.

“In fact, Kellyanne’s statements actually show her intention and desire to comply with the Hatch Act — as she twice declined to respond to the host’s specific invitation to encourage Alabamans to vote for the Republican,” deputy press secretary Hogan Gildley said.

Ahead of December’s special election to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions in the Senate, Conway made remarks critical of then-candidate Doug Jones in his race against former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore.

During her initial Fox appearance, Conway blasted Jones as “weak on crime” and “weak on borders,” before declining to specifically endorse Moore when asked.

“Doug Jones in Alabama, folks, don’t be fooled. He will be a vote against tax cuts. He is weak on crime, weak on borders. He is strong on raising your taxes. He is terrible for property owners,” Conway said in November.

“So, vote Roy Moore?” host Brian Kilmeade interjected.

“I’m telling you that we want the votes in the Senate to get this tax bill through,” Conway responded.

In her CNN appearance in December, Conway went further, saying that Trump “doesn’t want a liberal Democrat representing Alabama” in the Senate.

“The only endorsement that matters in this race is President Trump’s,” Conway said the week before the vote. “And he came out questioning the ideology and the vote of Doug Jones. He’ll be a reliable vote for tax hikes. He’ll be a reliable vote against border security. He’ll be a reliable vote against national security and keeping [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] ISIS in retreat. He’ll be the reliable vote against the Second Amendment and against life.”

At the time, former Office of Government Ethics Director Walter Shaub called the comments a “slam dunk” violation of the Hatch Act.

“The willfulness of Conway’s violation and her openly expressed disdain for efforts to hold her accountable for complying with ethics requirements make clear that anything less than removal from the federal service or a lengthy unpaid suspension will not deter future misconduct on her part,” Shaub said.

Shaub filed two complaints with OSC over the interviews.

White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah defended Conway last year after initial criticism.

“Ms. Conway did not advocate for or against the election of a candidate, and specifically declined to encourage Alabamans to vote a certain way,” Shah said in a statement.

“She was speaking about issues and her support for the president’s agenda. This election is for the people of Alabama to decide,” he added.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings (Md.) demanded the president issue “swift and serious” punishment for the violations.

“The President must take swift and serious disciplinary action against Ms. Conway. Anything else sets a terrible example,” Cummings said in a statement.

Hatch Act violations committed by White House staff are typically handled directly by the president. Consequences for violating the law range from an official reprimand to a civil penalty of up to $1,000. Other penalties include suspension, termination or even debarment from federal employment for up to five years.

[The Hill]

Update

The White House said on Tuesday that counselor Kellyanne Conway did not violate the Hatch Act after the Office of Special Counsel (OSC) told the Trump administration she was found in violation.

“Kellyanne Conway did not advocate for or against the election of any particular candidate. She simply expressed the president’s obvious position that he have people in the House and Senate, who support his agenda,” deputy White House press secretary Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

Trump’s Plan to Solve the Opioid Crisis Might Involve Executing Drug Dealers

While signing a bill that aims to combat the opioid crisis last month, President Trump hinted that he’d come up with the solution to the complex problem, but couldn’t talk about it.

“There is an answer. I think I actually know the answer, but I’m not sure the country is ready for it yet,” Trump said. “Does anybody know what I mean? I think so.”

No one knew what he meant. “Yeah, I wondered about that,” said Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who was at the signing. “I didn’t follow up and ask.”

Many dismissed the comment as more of Trump’s regular, incoherent ramblings. However, now it seems the president may actually have a secret plan to fight the opioid epidemic, beyond hiring a 24-year-old ingenue as his deputy drug czar and an ad campaign that was supposed to launch during the Super Bowl but didn’t come together in time. Axios’s Jonathan Swan reports that he’s been telling friends for months that drug dealers should face the death penalty, citing policies in Singapore and the Philippines.

“He says that a lot,” said a source. “He says, ‘When I ask the prime minister of Singapore do they have a drug problem [the prime minister replies,] ‘No. Death penalty’.”

Trump is reportedly convinced that the key to ending America’s drug problems is making dealers fear for their lives and kids fear that even trying drugs will kill them — but he’s also acknowledged that the U.S. probably won’t pass a law mandating that all drug dealers be executed.

Kellyanne Conway, who is leading the administration’s anti-drug efforts, told Swan that Trump’s plan is more nuanced. “The president makes a distinction between those that are languishing in prison for low-level drug offenses and the kingpins hauling thousands of lethal doses of fentanyl into communities, that are responsible for many casualties in a single weekend,” she said.

In lieu of mass executions, the White House may push to toughen drug-sentencing laws. Per Axios:

Trump may back legislation requiring a five-year mandatory minimum sentence for traffickers who deal as little as two grams of fentanyl. Currently, you have to deal forty grams to trigger the mandatory five-year sentence. (The DEA estimates that as little as two milligrams is enough to kill people.)

Singapore has some of the strictest drug laws in the world. Police can perform random drug tests and those who test positive can face years-long sentences. Those caught with more than a few grams of certain drugs are presumed to be trafficking, and in higher quantities offenders are sentenced to death. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte instituted a brutal crackdown on both drug dealers and drug users in 2016. While the government claims that fewer than 4,000 suspects have been killed, Human Rights Watch puts the number at more than 12,000.

Trump has made it clear that unlike his predecessor, he has a cosy relationship with Duterte. He invited him to visit the White House, ignored questions about human-rights abuses during their first meeting in the Philippines, and congratulated him for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem” during a phone call. It was assumed that this was all part of Trump’s general admiration for authoritarian leaders, but perhaps he’s been taking more specific policy inspiration.

[New York Magazine]

Reality

The Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution states that “cruel and unusual punishments [shall not be] inflicted.” The general principles the United States Supreme Court relied on to decide whether or not a particular punishment was cruel and unusual were determined by Justice William Brennan.[4] In Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972), Justice Brennan wrote, “There are, then, four principles by which we may determine whether a particular punishment is ‘cruel and unusual’.”

  • The “essential predicate” is “that a punishment must not by its severity be degrading to human dignity,” especially torture.
  • “A severe punishment that is obviously inflicted in wholly arbitrary fashion.” (Furman v. Georgia temporarily suspended capital punishment for this reason.)
  • “A severe punishment that is clearly and totally rejected throughout society.”
  • “A severe punishment that is patently unnecessary.”

And he added: “The function of these principles, after all, is simply to provide means by which a court can determine whether a challenged punishment comports with human dignity. They are, therefore, interrelated, and, in most cases, it will be their convergence that will justify the conclusion that a punishment is “cruel and unusual.” The test, then, will ordinarily be a cumulative one: if a punishment is unusually severe, if there is a strong probability that it is inflicted arbitrarily, if it is substantially rejected by contemporary society, and if there is no reason to believe that it serves any penal purpose more effectively than some less severe punishment, then the continued infliction of that punishment violates the command of the Clause that the State may not inflict inhuman and uncivilized punishments upon those convicted of crimes.”

Continuing, he wrote that he expected that no state would pass a law obviously violating any one of these principles, so court decisions regarding the Eighth Amendment would involve a “cumulative” analysis of the implication of each of the four principles. In this way the United States Supreme Court “set the standard that a punishment would be cruel and unusual [,if] it was too severe for the crime, [if] it was arbitrary, if it offended society’s sense of justice, or if it was not more effective than a less severe penalty.”

Kellyanne Conway Says Sen. Gillibrand, Who Was First Elected in ’06, ‘Protected’ Clinton During Impeachment

Following White House staff secretary Rob Porter’s resignation amid allegations that he abused two ex-wives, President Donald Trump told reporters that he wished Porter well and that Porter has said the accusations are false. He also stated that Porter was “very sad” over the situation and hoped the ex-aide had a “wonderful career.”

During today’s broadcast of ABC’s This Week, White House counselor Kellyanne Conway was pressed on the president’s response to the controversy and his weekend tweet seemingly doubling down on it in which he cited due process. Host George Stephanopoulos brought up reaction from Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), who said that Trump has shown that he “doesn’t value women.”

Conway brushed off Gillibrand’s criticism by invoking President Bill Clinton’s indiscretions with women and late ’90s impeachment. After noting that Trump’s accusers had “their day” when they were “trotted out” on television, Conway said the following:

“I don’t need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand on anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sexual relations in the Oval Office and was impeached for lying. I don’t need a lecture from her or anybody else.”

Only one problem with Conway’s counterpoint to Gillibrand — Gillibrand was first elected to Congress in 2006 and didn’t actually get to Washington until January 2007, years after Clinton was impeached over the Lewinsky affair. This fact wasn’t lost on some media figures.

[Mediaite]

Kellyanne Conway’s ‘opioid cabinet’ sidelines drug czar’s experts

President Donald Trump’s war on opioids is beginning to look more like a war on his drug policy office.

White House counselor Kellyanne Conway has taken control of the opioids agenda, quietly freezing out drug policy professionals and relying instead on political staff to address a lethal crisis claiming about 175 lives a day. The main response so far has been to call for a border wall and to promise a “just say no” campaign.

Trump is expected to propose massive cuts this month to the “drug czar” office, just as he attempted in last year’s budget before backing off. He hasn’t named a permanent director for the office, and the chief of staff was sacked in December. For months, the office’s top political appointee was a 24-year-old Trump campaign staffer with no relevant qualifications. Its senior leadership consists of a skeleton crew of three political appointees, down from nine a year ago.

“It’s fair to say the ONDCP has pretty much been systematically excluded from key decisions about opioids and the strategy moving forward,” said a former Trump administration staffer, using shorthand for the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which has steered federal drug policy since the Reagan years.

The office’s acting director, Rich Baum, who had served in the office for decades before Trump tapped him as the temporary leader, has not been invited to Conway’s opioid cabinet meetings, according to his close associates. His schedule, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act request, included no mention of the meetings. Two political appointees from Baum’s office, neither of whom are drug policy experts, attend on the office’s behalf, alongside officials from across the federal government, from HHS to Defense. A White House spokesperson declined to disclose who attends the meetings, and Baum did not respond to a request for comment, although the White House later forwarded an email in which Baum stressed the office’s central role in developing national drug strategy.

The upheaval in the drug policy office illustrates the Trump administration’s inconsistency in creating a real vision on the opioids crisis. Trump declared a public health emergency at a televised White House event and talked frequently about the devastating human toll of overdoses and addiction. But critics say he hasn’t followed through with a consistent, comprehensive response.

He has endorsed anti-drug messaging and tougher law enforcement. But he ignored many of the recommendations from former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s presidential commission about public health approaches to addiction, access to treatment, and education for doctors who prescribe opioids. And he hasn’t maintained a public focus. In Ohio just this week, it was first lady Melania Trump who attended an opioid event at a children’s hospital. The president toured a manufacturing plant and gave a speech on tax cuts.

Much of the White House messaging bolsters the president’s call for a border wall, depicting the opioid epidemic as an imported crisis, not one that is largely home-grown and complex, fueled by both legal but addictive painkillers and lethal street drugs like heroin and fentanyl.

“I don’t know what the agency is doing. I really don’t,” said Regina LaBelle, who was the drug office’s chief of staff in the Obama administration. “They aren’t at the level of visibility you’d think they’d be at by now.”

Conway touts her opioids effort as policy-driven, telling POLITICO recently that her circle of advisers help “formalize and centralize strategy, coordinate policy, scheduling and public awareness” across government agencies.

That’s exactly what the drug czar has traditionally done.

Conway’s role has also caused confusion on the Hill. For instance, the Senate HELP Committee’s staff has been in touch with both Conway and the White House domestic policy officials, according to chairman Lamar Alexander’s office. But lawmakers who have been leaders on opioid policy and who are accustomed to working with the drug czar office, haven’t seen outreach from Conway or her cabinet.

“I haven’t talked to Kellyanne at all and I’m from the worst state for this,” said Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican from West Virginia, which has the country’s highest overdose death rate. “I’m uncertain of her role.” The office of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio), another leader on opioid policy, echoed that — although Portman’s wife, Jane, and Conway were both at the event with Melania Trump this week.

Some drug abuse experts and Hill allies find a silver lining, noting that Conway’s high rank brings White House muscle and attention.

“If I want technical advice, I’m going to work with Baum,” said Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), a co-chair of the Bipartisan Heroin Task Force. “If I want to get a message to the president, Kellyanne is somebody that I know I can talk to.”

“It’s a really good sign that one of the president’s top advisers has been assigned to such an important topic,” said Jessica Hulsey Nickel, president and CEO of the Addiction Policy Forum.

Baum’s email called the drug office the “lead Federal entity in charge of crafting, publishing and overseeing the implementation of President Trump’s National Drug Control Strategy,” which multiple agencies review. He called Conway’s opioids cabinet an “interagency coordinating apparatus for public-facing opioids-related initiatives” and said that it was not overseeing national policy. But several administration officials did say her cabinet was indeed focused on a variety of policies.

Whatever Conway’s ties to the president, her career has been in polling and politics, not public health, substance abuse, or law enforcement.

Some of her “cabinet” participants do have a broad, general health policy background. But they don’t match the experience and expertise of the drug office’s professional staff. In her circle is Lance Leggitt, the deputy director of the White House’s Domestic Policy Council who was also chief of staff to former HHS Secretary Tom Price. Another top Price aide, Nina Schaefer, recently returned to the Heritage Foundation. The conservative think tank then touted her as having managed “the development of the HHS response to the opioid abuse crisis,” but when POLITICO recently tried to contact her, she said through a spokesperson she was not an expert on the topic.

Among the people working on the public education campaign that Trump promised is Andrew Giuliani, Rudy Giuliani’s 32-year-old son, who is a White House public liaison and has no background in drug policy, multiple administration sources told POLITICO. Nor has Conway spent her career in the anti-opioid trenches.

“Kellyanne Conway is not an expert in this field,” said Andrew Kessler, the founder of Slingshot Solutions, a consulting group that’s worked on substance abuse with many federal agencies. “She may be a political operative and a good political operative,” he added. “But look. When you appoint a secretary of Labor, you want someone with a labor background. When you appoint a secretary of Defense, you want someone with a defense background. The opioid epidemic needs leadership that ‘speaks’ the language of drug policy.”

The set-up befuddles other experts who’ve worked on substance abuse for prior administrations. Fresh ideas are fine, they say. But the drug office has a purpose.

“The whole reason we created ONDCP in 1988 was to be a coordinating force with power in the government and to bring together 20 agencies, many reluctant to be involved in drug control,” said Bob Weiner, who served in that office in both the George W. Bush and Clinton White Houses. “This is exactly when the agency should get maximum support from the White House,” he added.

An ONDCP spokesperson told POLITICO the office “works closely with other federal agencies and White House offices, including Kellyanne Conway’s office, to combat the opioid crisis” but declined to say whether the office’s career experts have attended any of her “opioids cabinet” sessions. The drug office is still crafting the annual drug control strategy, outside the Conway group, administration officials said.

A senior White House official confirmed that officials considered kicking off the media campaign with a big splash during the Super Bowl, but that fell through. Beyond that, many experts on drug policy and substance abuse say messaging alone won’t solve the problem anyway. People with addiction need treatment, and many people get addicted in the first place to painkillers their doctors have prescribed. An ad campaign won’t solve that.

One big test for the drug office will come when Trump releases his budget Monday, which is expected to slash the office’s budget, turning much of its work over to HHS and the Department of Justice. Both departments are developing their own opioid approaches; in past administrations, the drug czar would have coordinated. Lawmakers are already sounding the alarms over the budget plan.

A bipartisan group of senators last week wrote a letter to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, urging him to reconsider and maintain the office’s programs that “prevent and fight against the scourge of drug abuse.”

Pushback to a similar proposal last year led the Trump administration to reverse the decision and maintain the office’s budget. Lawmakers hope that there will be a similar outcome this time — along with a smarter utilization of the drug policy office.

“What we haven’t seen is the kind of coordination of critical programs that ONDCP has traditionally done,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, another state with one of the highest overdose death rates in the country.

Trump officials say it was the Obama administration that began undermining the drug policy office, demoting the director from the Cabinet, shrinking the staff and stressing the health aspects more than a law enforcement-focused “war on drugs.” They say the emergency requires a new approach.

Bob Dupont, who served as the second White House drug czar under President Gerald Ford, before the formal drug policy office was created, and still informally advises the Justice Department on drug policy, believes the White House will eventually realize it needs the expertise that ONDCP has to offer.

The West Wing doesn’t “have the staff or capability” to carry out drug policy work like ONDCP does, Dupont told POLITICO. “I don’t think swashbuckling your approach is going to last very long.”

[Politico]

Kellyanne Conway denies ever saying ‘fake news’ as Trump attacks NBC

Kellyanne Conway claims she doesn’t use the term “fake news,” saying her beef with the media is “incomplete coverage.”

“I’m a person in the West Wing who’s never actually uttered the words ‘fake news,’ ‘enemy of the people,’ ‘opposition party,’” Conway, a White House senior adviser, said Wednesday during a discussion at Fortune magazine’s Most Powerful Women summit in Washington.

“I don’t speak that way,” Conway said, responding to a question from Fortune’s Pattie Sellers about whether the president’s tweeting has added to “division and rancor” across the country.

Trump, who has used “fake news” to describe media outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post and CNN, has recently turned his ire on NBC News following its reports that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson once referred to him as a “moron.”

After NBC published a follow-up story on Wednesday claiming the insult came when Trump told officials he wanted to increase the military’s nuclear arsenal tenfold, the president lashed out on Twitter, going so far as to suggest challenging NBC’s license to broadcast.

“I think we need a full and free press in our nation, of course,” Conway said.

“But with that freedom comes responsibility,” she said. “So my grievance is never about fake news. I talk about incomplete coverage.”

“What I’m concerned about is that this president — and I hear this from people who did not vote for him and from people who don’t always cover him fully and fairly either — so there is a concern they’ve literally never seen a president covered this way,” Conway said.

When pressed on whether she’s ever used the term “fake news” — a phrase made famous by Trump on the campaign trail to rail against media coverage — Conway repeated, “I don’t speak that way.”

Conway has, however, classify at least a few stories as “fake news,” telling CNN “The biggest piece of fake news in this election was that Donald Trump couldn’t win.

And writing on Twitter last year and in March:

[The Hill]

Kellyanne Conway Says Russian Interference is Not ‘An Issue of National Security’

In a late-night Thursday interview with CNN’s Chris Cuomo, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway tap danced around any questions concerning the grand jury investigation, subpoenas and the meeting between President Donald Trump’s campaign and Russians.

Conway maintained that the American people didn’t care about Russia or the scandals surrounding it. Cuomo explained to her that sometimes the news has to cover issues that are important but not always popular. However, polling reveals that Americans do care about the Russia investigation and ensuring that it moves forward ethically.

“This investigation isn’t about Russian interference,” said Conway about the investigation on Russian interference.

“Sometimes you have to cover things even when they are not popular,” he said. “This is an issue of potential national security.”

“How is that though?” Conway asked. “How is it an issue of potential national security? What is the basis for saying that?”

Cuomo explained that when a foreign adversary hacks and election and tries to influence an election and meet with one candidate over another, it’s concerning.

As Conway has done many times before, she attacked Cuomo and CNN for not covering anything other than the Russia scandal. She specifically bashed the network for not talking about what Trump supporters care about. That’s when the conversation got a little heated. CNN regularly does panels with Trump voters. Some were even aired on Cuomo’s morning show “New Day.”

A frustrated Cuomo informed Conway he’s deeply invested in every issue, most specifically the opioid epidemic, explaining that he’s working on a documentary for CNN that focuses on the crisis in New Hampshire, a state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump last November

[Raw Story]

Media

Kellyanne Conway Attacks News Agencies for Covering Trump’s Tweets

Top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway issued a new broadside against the media on Monday when she attacked reporters for covering things that the President of the United States says on Twitter.

Appearing on NBC’s Today, Conway knocked the press’s “obsession with covering everything [President Donald Trump] says on Twitter, and not what he does as president.”

However, co-host Craig Melvin called out Conway for knocking the media’s “obsession” with Trump’s Twitter feed by noting that Twitter is “his preferred method of communication with the American people.”

“That’s not true!” Conway objected.

“Well, he hasn’t given an interview in three weeks,” Melvin shot back. “So lately it has been his preferred method.”

Despite Conway’s assertions, Trump White House officials have often stressed that the president’s use of a Twitter is a way for him to communicate directly with the American public without having to go through the filter of the American media.

[Raw Story]

Media

Kellyanne Conway blames negative coverage on ‘sexist’ and ‘Trumpist’ media

It’s all about the “feigned pained look, the furrowed brow, the curled lip.”

Or comments such as, “That makes no sense” or “You must be lying” that anchors make anytime an advocate of President Trump goes on television to defend him.

Kellyanne Conway said that’s what television anchors and hosts have resorted to — all in the pursuit of going viral.

“They think it’s the job of the news media now, which it’s not, of course,” the White House counselor said Sunday during an interview with Fox News host Howard Kurtz.

Conway doubled down on her criticisms of the media, specifically on the level of negative coverage of the Trump administration and how the president’s surrogates are treated on air. The harshness and combativeness of TV interviews, she suggested, are attributable to “the quest to go viral,” especially “when there’s nothing else to say.”

“It really doesn’t help democracy and it doesn’t help the body politic because people are looking for the news,” Conway said. “They’re not looking for conjecture. They don’t care that something goes viral and a late-night host gets a couple of laughs out of it. The idea that people are so presumptively negative toward so much that’s going on.”

Her comments, it appears, were inspired by her combative interviews with CNN anchors Anderson Cooper and Chris Cuomo last week in the aftermath of Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James B. Comey. Cooper rolled his eyes in response to a statement by Conway, inevitably paving the way for a viral GIF of his eyeroll. Cuomo, on the other hand, berated Conway throughout the interview.

Cooper’s eyeroll is “possibly sexist,” Conway said, and “definitely what I’d call Trumpist,” a new term that apparently describes anything anti-Trump.

She added that the media — without naming any news outlet or individual reporter — has largely focused on criticisms while ignoring “the news reports or the facts.”

“It feels like there’s this conclusion in search of evidence,” she said, adding later: “No good comes out of it … having to hear all the blather and having to hear all the nonsense and the negativity and the falsities.”

Toward the end of the congenial and largely uninterrupted interview, Kurtz asked about Trump’s tweets and what the media is supposed to do when the president says or tweets something controversial, such as this tweet last week: “James Comey better hope that there are no ‘tapes’ of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”

“How do you not cover that as a story?” Kurtz asked.

Conway did not comment on the tweet and instead further criticized media coverage — specifically the media’s “obsession with every tweet and every comment,” while ignoring things such as job growth and the “amazing trade deal” with China.

“That’ll impact more people. it’s like, ‘Trade deal on beef with China. Yawn!’ ” Conway said as Kurtz chuckled. “That’s news. That affects people. That’s significant movement.”

Conway was probably referring to a recent government report stating that the U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February and that the unemployment rate dropped to 4.7 percent, compared with 4.8 percent in January. A report the following month, however, had lower numbers. Employers added 98,000 jobs in March, the lowest gain in nearly a year.

The Trump administration also recently reached deals with China to ease market access for a variety of sectors, including beef and financial services.

Conway was a constant presence on cable news interviews in the months immediately after Trump’s victory in the 2016 election. Her appearances on Cooper and Cuomo’s shows this past week aren’t the first combative interviews she has had. The now-famous “alternative facts” comment was made by her during a tense back-and-forth with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”

Her TV interviews have become less frequent in recent months. The hiatus has prompted rumors that she had been sidelined, and it led to a “Saturday Night Live” sketch mocking her prolonged absence.

[Washington Post]

Media

 

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