The ongoing battle between the White House and the press

By Shivani Gosai | Opinions Editor

12/7/17

Unfortunately, the problem with the Trump administration and the press continues.

Justin Sink, news journalist for Bloomberg, reported a strange incident with deputy White House Press secretary Hogan Gidley on Twitter.

The exchange happened on a flight from Utah to D.C., where Gidley firmly denied to answer any questions on record. If information is found off the record, it can not be reported on in any way.

As reported by the LA Times, Gidley read the reporters who were present a brief series of statements on Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and a Supreme Court decision to allow his travel ban. After the short announcement, Gidley stated he would not be taking any questions. Here are some of the exchanges between reporters and Gidley recorded by Sink:

“Reporter: ‘We have to ask the questions –’
Gidley: ‘I understand that, you have a job to do and so do I.’
Reporter: ‘You’re not doing your job. Your job is literally to take questions from us. That’s the whole point of this. You can release paper statements if you want.’
Gidley: ‘Please tell me more about my job if I get to tell you more about yours …’”

Why was Gidley refusing to take questions? He declined to answer that as well.

This is not the first time the President’s administration has limited the press’s ability to do its job, such as the time it prohibited doing on-camera daily briefings. Routinely, Trump has called the news media “the enemy” and claimed he is the victim of “fake news.” As a journalist, nothing angers me more than watching our government refuse to be held accountable for its actions. In no way does this reflect the democracy we claim to pride ourselves on. If anything, this is an authoritarian way of hiding information from the public.

This is not only embarrassing but terrifying as well. What does the administration need to hide from us? I do not believe that this was an accident. No matter what your politics are, or whether you dislike the media, this should scare you. News media is the crucial liaison between the White House and the public. It is our job to inform you what our President is doing and his opinions on important matters. If that is taken away, then what are we left with? Surely not a democracy that works for the citizens.

What really blows my mind is that answering questions from reporters is quite literally Gidley’s job. His title is the deputy White House press secretary; it has the word “press” in it. The American people are paying his salary, and for what? For him to refuse to do his job? The average person can’t get information from the White House, but reporters can. And that is why Gidley’s job is imperative for everyone.

What Trump is doing is controlling what information the public can and cannot have about him and his decisions, and this is not the first time it has happened. I refuse to be fed information and then be told that I cannot question it. If we are to allow the President and his staff to choose when to answer questions, or if they will even answer questions at all, then we are risking getting further and further away from a democracy.

It’s painful to watch the White House try to slowly destroy the press. Everyone should be outraged by Gidley’s refusal to answer any questions. Clearly he has been misguided by who he actually works for, which is all American citizens.

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