Bozell & Graham Column: Suddenly, Friendly Reporters Are Offensive

February 14th, 2017 10:55 PM

The Trump administration is less than a month old, and Gen. Mike Flynn, the brand-new National Security Adviser, has resigned. This matches the picture the anti-Trump media want to paint right now. Chaos. Disarray. Amateur hour. 

They also expect the president to help them paint it. This is why they’re going nuclear. He chose to ignore them instead.  

Journalists came out of a joint press conference of Trump and Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau livid that the president had called on two “friendly” journalists instead of someone who would hammer him about Flynn. They bashed the two American questioners for asking the leaders of U.S. and Canada about relations between the U.S. and Canada. But are the media elites really always hostile to “friendly” questioners? 

Obama (and Democratic presidents before him) could always call on friendly journalists at these usually staid joint press conferences. Journalists didn’t yell at each other for not being harsh enough. They had no interest in scalps in the first month. 

Over the last eight years, the press was never interested in making trouble for Obama. Instead they projected the opposite. He was “scandal-free.” If he had trouble, it didn’t come from a rough press conference. It emerged from evil Republicans plotting. 

Exhibit A is ABC’s Terry Moran. Eight years ago at this point, Moran interviewed the new liberal president for Nightline. Moran looked at him in sorrow. “Mr. President, you got no honeymoon. Not a single Republican vote in the House on your first major piece of legislation." Moran speculated: "I wonder in coming into the presidency, maybe you were too nice? If I'm a Republican Senator or a Republican Congress, I think you're a very nice guy but maybe I don't have enough reason to fear you." 

But on the day of the Trudeau press conference, Moran went on Twitter to hail former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen for “ripping the sh*t out of Stephen Miller's (and POTUS) claims of massive voter fraud in NH.” He then retweeted thirteen tweets where Cullen mocked Trump’s voter-fraud claims with pop-culture references from The Simpsons to The Partridge Family. 

Exhibit B is Brian Williams, whose primetime Obama White House special  in 2009 featured a trip for cheeseburgers (what a regular guy, that Obama!) and good-night handshakes and bows. “Mr. President, that is your elevator. Thank you, sir. Have a good evening.”

But now, when it came to pounding Trump and Flynn, Williams displayed his typically shameless audacity, complaining that “no matter how robust the press corps covering the President, the President controls the flow and the topics in a de facto way by deciding who to call on and who not to call on.” 

Obama controlled his flow by calling on Brian Williams. 

Exhibit C is CBS News, promoting White House reporter Major Garrett’s lament that "The central personnel question hanging over the Trump White House was not asked.”

That’s especially rich, coming from the network of Obama’s 60 Minutes sympathizers. Steve Kroft offered Obama five softball interviews in 2008 that skipped every social issue, from gays to abortion to quotas. They skipped health care and climate. They skipped Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. Kroft's “hardballs” were like this: “Do you think the country is ready for a black president?” Once he became president, Kroft graduated to asking, “So have you gotten into a routine?” 

These exhibits could fill a floor of the Newseum. All you need to know is journalists have an On/Off switch on accountability. It was “Off” for eight years, and now it’s “On” and they’re lamely pretending it’s always been “On.”