As I write these words the summer sun is streaming outside my window, pouring onto the offices of government here in D.C. — from the Trump White House, to the many departments, and even around the Pentagon across the river. Yet, I fear it must be dark inside, because in all the decades of my professional life I have never known an administration so intent on locking every door and shuttering every window.
What I mean is Team Trump has shown a marked distaste for letting the public — you — have any look at what they do except as they choose to present it. Just this week one of my colleagues here at CNN, Kaitlan Collins, was banned from a White House press event. Team Trump says she asked the president an “inappropriate” question. A lot more say it was just a question they didn’t like so they punished her.
It’s not just Kaitlan Collins, Team Trump is brushing aside most journalists
The White House “daily” press briefing has virtually vanished. It’s been more than 500 days since the president’s last real, solo press conference. In that time, you could have traveled to Mars and back, and still have been the first one in the room. Politico has an excellent report right now on how the Defense Department has clammed up, with Secretary James Mattis not conducting a single on-camera briefing since April. Once public schedules for officials are now hidden. Simple answers to simple questions are brushed aside.
I know. Many Trump supporters rejoice in all this. After all, why give the “fake news” even the time of day? They’ll just get it wrong!
But that’s a convenient cop-out. When any elected official and his/her team deny access, refuse answers, and run from questions, it’s nothing but a cheap shot to then say the media is getting the story wrong. This isn’t some special assessment being unfairly leveled against Donald Trump. It was true for Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, the second Bush, and Obama, and they all took hits for the White House’s ever-advancing tide of secrecy.
And yes, I have a vested interest. I’m a reporter. But I’m also a person who knows some history, and I’ve never seen evidence of any country thriving by persistently keeping its people in the dark.