It’s not as fun or easy to take pot shots at a conservative president when that president fights back, according to Variety.
In Ted Johnson’s piece, headlined, “Inside the Intense, Combative World of Covering the Trump White House,” White House reporters admitted they work harder to ensure their stories are accurate, that the Trump administration is more transparent than its predecessors and actually, in the words of one, “has sparked more interest in news.”
This even as they lament being called out for publishing fake news about the president and the habit of Trump administration officials of seeking out reporters personally to inform them of errors.
April Ryan, a reporter for National Urban Radio who has gained a reputation for her combative questions — such as the time she asked press secretary Sarah Sanders whether Trump plans to resign. Previous administrations pushed back on stories, but never like this, she said.
“For the last four presidents that I have covered, there’s a thread,” said Ryan, who is writing a book called “April Ryan Under Fire: On the Frontlines” about reporting during the Trump era. “There’s always retaliation but never on this scale.
“If you write on something or report on something they don’t like, of course, they are going to give you a call or call your bosses or come to you literally and talk to you and say, ‘It wasn’t that way. You have gotten it all wrong.’ This administration, you will get a [Fake News Award}, or they will call you out. They will try to disparage your name. It has gone into personal attacks.”
NBC’s Chuck Todd implied reporters were in the clear to play fast and loose with some rules because of the way they are treated by the administration.
“There is a danger of getting caught up in it,” Todd is quoted as saying. “I am as concerned about press norms being violated as anyone in the industry, but we have to be careful that we are not ignoring the impact in the rest of the country [of what’s going on in Washington].”
Ashley Parker of the Washington Post contended Trump’s slaps at the paper, which he calls the “Amazon Washington Post” because Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns it, are completely out of bounds.
“I joined the Post last year, and I didn’t even get an Amazon Prime subscription,” joked Parker, a White House correspondent for the paper. “There is no connection.”
But Parker said Trump has made her work harder to be accurate.
“The one thing about this ‘fake news’ environment: I think one of the ways you protect yourself is by doing your job and being extra bulletproof,” she said. “So if under Obama or under George W. Bush you would triple-check your work, now maybe you quadruple-check it because you don’t want to give them any excuse to call you ‘fake news.’”
Reporters also said they have more access to the Trump administration than any in recent memory.
Trump’s relationship with the press is “a bit confounding,” Variety wrote.
“He bashes ‘fake news’ and individual outlets and reporters, but has at times called journalists from the New York Times out of the blue to clarify a point. He has held only one formal press conference, in February 2017, but takes questions during pool sprays, on Air Force One and on the White House lawn more than previous presidents did.”
Parker said that “in a weird way,” Trump’s tweets provide more transparency in that they are “direct windows into what the president of the United States is thinking in that moment.”