It appears that if Trump's handlers have their way, one of the first acts of the new administration next week will be to have the press thrown out of the White House completely.
The upset to the existing order caused by the presidential election has been acutely felt by no one, perhaps, so much it has by the national press. At Donald Trump's press conference on Wednesday, reporters found themselves not only subject to a scolding ("Fake news!" "Disgraceful!") but also awakened to the strong suggestion that, at least in tactical terms, the showdown had been won by the president-elect.
The media's sense of dislocation may soon become literal.
According to three senior officials on the transition team, a plan to evict the press corps from the White House is under serious consideration by the incoming Trump Administration. If the plan goes through, one of the officials said, the media will be removed from the cozy confines of the White House press room, where it has worked for several decades. Members of the press will be relocated to the White House Conference Center—near Lafayette Square—or to a space in the Old Executive Office Building, next door to the White House.
"There has been no decision," Sean Spicer, Trump's press secretary, said about the plan today. But Spicer acknowledged that "there has been some discussion about how to do it."
Spicer cast the possible relocation of the press corps as a matter, in part, of logistics. "There's been so much interest in covering a President Donald Trump," he said. "A question is: Is a room that has forty-nine seats adequate? When we had that press conference the other day, we had thousands of requests, and we capped it at four hundred. Is there an opportunity to potentially allow more members of the media to be part of this? That's something we're discussing."
Another senior official, however, suggested a more pointed motivation for the move. According to the official, the potential relocation reflected a view within the transition team that coverage of Trump has been so hostile as to indicate that the press has abandoned its role as neutral observer.
"They are the opposition party," a senior official says. "I want 'em out of the building. We are taking back the press room."
Trump isn't going to even bother with the press, I'm thinking. He has Twitter and press releases and that's all America needs or deserves, according to him. Considering his disastrous press conference where he screamed and threatened CNN like a five-year-old denied ice cream for breakfast, what did you expect?
So yes, we have an incoming administration that literally considers the free press to be the opposition party, and wants them gone. I have little sympathy for them, after spending my entire lifetime being gossiping courtesans more than actual journalists, but Trump's goons kicking them out of the White House is yet another in a long string of authoritarian moves that Trump will continue to make.
Expect a lot more such moves, backed up by the considerable power of the US government that the Republicans will completely control starting next weekend.