ChrisWeigant.com

Media Giving Trump A Pass On Lack Of Press Conferences

[ Posted Wednesday, January 10th, 2018 – 18:02 PST ]

Why is the White House press corps giving such a giant pass to Donald Trump for his lack of solo press conferences? We are days away from marking his first year in office and in all of that time, Trump has only held one formal solo press conference -- a whopping 328 days ago, on February 16. And yet there is nary a peep from the press corps about this remarkable lack. Previously, when presidents have stiff-armed the press for months on end, news organizations begin running countdown clocks (technically, they're actually count-up clocks) showing how many days and months it has been since the last presidential presser. Haven't seen anything like that this time, though.

Even giving Trump a slight break on the definition doesn't improve the situation much. On two occasions since that February press conference, Trump has essentially hijacked what were supposed to be short announcements with others and transmogrified them into solo press conferences. The first of these was in August, when Trump appeared in Trump Tower for what was supposed to be a boring announcement on infrastructure. Trump took over and answered questions himself for a long stretch of time, qualifying it as a press conference in all but formal name. The second time Trump did this was after a lunch with Mitch McConnell, where they were supposed to give a short "everything's hunky-dory" statement to the press. Again, Trump took the reins and turned it into a de facto solo presser. This was on October 16, which was 86 days ago.

In both of these later instances, Trump was driven to his impromptu pressers by burning issues that he really wanted to address. The first happened roughly a week after the Charlottesville tragedy. Between when the violence happened and the infrastructure announcement, Trump had issued a statement obviously written by someone else, and he was chafing to get a few ideas of his own off his chest. This was the event where Trump called the neo-Nazis "very fine people," in case you've forgotten.

The second event also turned out to be controversial, as Trump went on at length about how he was the best president ever when it came to consoling widows of slain American soldiers. This led to some hasty calls made from the White House (since Trump had lied about how many such calls he had made), Trump being forced to make good on a promise to send tens of thousands of dollars to the father of a dead soldier, and weeks of sparring with a war widow in Florida and her congressional champion.

So it's understandable why the White House has shied away from holding more solo Trump press conferences. Dealing with the aftermath from them must be exhausting, after all. But why has the press been so complacent in this tactic?

A quick internet search didn't turn up full schedules, but did reveal the following snippet of history: "In his first two years, President Obama held 21 solo [press] conferences, President George W. Bush 7, President Clinton 29, and George H. W. Bush 56 solo sessions." Assuming a fairly steady rate and dividing these numbers in half (to cover the first year), this means Obama had probably held at least 10 press conferences by this point in his presidency, Clinton had held at least 14, and George H. W. Bush an astonishing 28. George W. Bush likely had held 3, which (if you expand the definition a bit) would match up with Trump's output. But if you kept to a strict definition, even Dubya had held three times the single solo presser that Trump has managed.

In recent times, when a president has gone a long time without holding a press conference, the news media has mocked him for it. This usually gets under their skin over time, and a press conference will eventually be held. But Trump just blew off a traditional year-end press conference, and this time the media mostly yawned, for some reason.

This is all the more extraordinary when you consider how easy it is to get under Trump's skin about his presidential performance. Just yesterday, he gave the press an extraordinary look into the bargaining over immigration with congressional leaders. For almost an hour, Trump allowed the cameras to roll. This was (obviously) in response to the growing chorus voicing their concerns about the president's mental capacity, initially sparked by the Michael Wolff tell-all book. Trump's team decided the best way to shoot down such talk was to show Trump at work. This was somewhat successful (in that Trump didn't drool into his tie or anything), but was undermined when Trump appeared to agree with Dianne Feinstein that passing a "clean DACA" bill would be a good idea. Trump obviously didn't understand what she was proposing at all, which kind of reinforced the image of Trump not being up to the job. So it was a mixed performance, even at best.

But if the White House press corps really wanted to, they could pretty easily goad Trump into giving another press conference. They could easily launch off the "moron or stable genius" argument and begin openly questioning if the reason Trump refuses to give solo press conferences is that it is beyond his mental ability to concentrate on such things for a whole hour's time. A few "Trump Afraid To Hold Solo Presser" headlines would probably do the trick. Questioning his mental ability to perform would likely enrage Trump enough that he'd have to prove himself capable of doing so. Especially if such a story ran on Fox News.

Trump used to sincerely enjoy sparring with the press. He saw such situations as nothing short of open warfare with "fake news" journalists, and in his own mind he always came out the victor of such verbal wrestling matches. As a candidate, Trump was downright eager to talk to the press and held question-and-answer sessions on a regular and frequent basis. So it's not like he doesn't personally enjoy press conferences or anything.

Again, this provides an easy way of shaming the president into holding pressers, if the White House press corps really wanted to. "Trump Being Handled By Aides, Who Refuse To Let Him Hold Press Conferences" would be the storyline which could easily spur Trump to act. He is hypersensitive about being seen as anyone's puppet, after all, and the idea of proving wrong the image of his staff pulling his strings to keep him from speaking to the press would be like catnip to him. My guess is that Trump would hold a press conference within a week of such a story making the rounds, to prove both that he was capable of doing so, and (within his own mind) to prove that he could easily "win" such a matchup.

So why isn't the media doing so? I really have no idea. Why aren't there clocks at CNN and other media websites showing "328 days since the last solo Trump press conference... and counting..."? All it would take to get Trump to hold a presser would be to dare him to do so. Run the story that Trump is scared of holding a solo press conference, and he'd likely do so within days. In fact, it'd be so easy to make this happen it makes it all the more notable that it hasn't. So why is the media giving Trump such a huge pass on his lack of press conferences? Your guess is as good as mine.

-- Chris Weigant

 

Cross-posted at The Huffington Post

Follow Chris on Twitter: @ChrisWeigant

 

40 Comments on “Media Giving Trump A Pass On Lack Of Press Conferences”

  1. [1] 
    John M from Ct. wrote:

    Um.. because the media, at a gut level, doesn't take the president seriously as a president?

  2. [2] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Um??

    Now, there is a 'word' that needs to be banned. I hate that 'word' ...

  3. [3] 
    Elizabeth Miller wrote:

    Chris,

    If there is one thing that would be even more painful to watch than Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifying before a congressional committee about anything or a CNN interview with a Trump spokesman and Jake Tapper or Chris Cuomo at the helm, then it would probably be a press conference with President Trump.

    I've reached my limit with all of it.

  4. [4] 
    Kick wrote:

    CW: ... Trump appeared to agree with Dianne Feinstein that passing a "clean DACA" bill would be a good idea. Trump obviously didn't understand what she was proposing at all, which kind of reinforced the image of Trump not being up to the job. So it was a mixed performance, even at best.

    I know, right! Did you see where the White House completely omitted Trump's response to DiFi in the original transcript of the meeting? Trump answers, "Yeah, I would like to do that," but this was missing entirely when the official transcript was released. A White House official claimed the omission was unintentional.

    M'kay. *shakes head*

    This reminds me of that time Scaramucci held his first... and almost last... press briefing where he claimed he'd seen Trump sink "3-foot putts," but when the official transcript was released by the White House, it had been changed to say "30-foot putts."

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/07/white-house-adds-27-feet-to-trumps-3-foot-putts.html

    Yes, I know it sounds petty... 3 versus 30... big deal, but how much of the "official" record is being changed to appease His Imperial Royal Highness Agent Orange? Just how much of history is being whitewashed? I sincerely hope that somebody is fact checking every single word spewing forth from the serial fabricating Man-Baby as the revisionist history and garbage manufactured daily pile up.

    I'm looking forward to the day when Benedict Donald is questioned by the IC where his brand of bullshit holds consequences. :)

  5. [5] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    A cynical view is that what used to be news media have become entertainment media and therefore simply regurgitate the latest tweet. Cheaper and easier than a press conference, and no one has to actually think.

  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:

    Yea...

    It's well documented that less than 5% of the Leftist's MSM coverage of PRESIDENT Trump is positive..

    But yea...

    The media MUST be giving Trump a break... :^/

    Do you see the symptoms of PTDS???

    Everything revolves around a negative view of President Trump..

    Ya'all actually INVENT the negativity, even where none exists...

    What a case study in hysterical ideologically based emotionalism ya'all would make.. :D

  7. [7] 
    Michale wrote:

    Everything revolves around a negative view of President Trump..

    And, for ya'all, when I say "EVERYTHING" I do mean *EVERYTHING*....

    It's like a religious fanatic who says that *EVERYTHING* that happens is "god's will"...

    For ya'all, *EVERYTHING* bad that happens is because of President Trump...

    Ya'all's hysteria over "cofeve" is a perfect example.. But it's not the only one...

  8. [8] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    So you're saying that Trump shouldn't have to do press conferences unless the press coverage is positive?

    How very banana Republican.

  9. [9] 
    Michale wrote:

    The fact that you got THAT from what I posted simply illustrates the depths of your PTDS...

  10. [10] 
    Michale wrote:

    A cynical view is that what used to be news media have become entertainment media and therefore simply regurgitate the latest tweet. Cheaper and easier than a press conference, and no one has to actually think.

    Word......

  11. [11] 
    C. R. Stucki wrote:

    Whatever political talents Trump may posses (must be some, after all, he IS the pres.), they're plainly NOT ones that cause him to shine at extemporaneous, or any type of 'off-the-cuff' public speaking. One need only look at his Tweets to confirm that. Can't blame the people around him for trying to discourage that. Most of what he says turns out to be a "misnomer", as he so elegantly puts it.

  12. [12] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:

    Cheaper and easier than a press conference…

    But they aren’t the ones paying for it to be held, the government is. The media doesn’t get stuck with the bill, they pay their people to report the news. Seems to me they aren’t getting their money’s worth if their reporters aren’t able to ask the questions that need to be asked of our president.

  13. [13] 
    Mezzomamma wrote:

    12 Listen--I was being cynical. I think all public officials should have to account in public for their words and actions and should be challenged by skilled questioners.

  14. [14] 
    ListenWhenYouHear wrote:


    Everything revolves around a negative view of President Trump..

    And, for ya'all, when I say "EVERYTHING" I do mean *EVERYTHING*....

    It's like a religious fanatic who says that *EVERYTHING* that happens is "god's will"...

    For ya'all, *EVERYTHING* bad that happens is because of President Trump...

    Ya'all's hysteria over "cofeve" is a perfect example.. But it's not the only one...

    Why is it that the only one who seems even remotely hysterical in their comments is the one accusing everyone else of suffering from HYSTERIA?

    If you want to read a case study in hysterical ideologically based emotionalism, all you need do is reread your own posts!

  15. [15] 
    neilm wrote:

    Bannon was against press conferences - he saw no point in "appeasing the enemy", so perhaps that made an impact on 45's thinking.

    Also, I'm sure Kelly is dissuading any talk of press conferences. He has enough fall out to deal with from leaks and tweets without adding an event where his boss might announce he thinks Nazis are fine people or something equally crazy.

    CW is right - a Fox News question about 45 being kept on a tight leash with the press would do it.

    C'mon Shepard Smith - you can do it.

  16. [16] 
    Michale wrote:

    Ya'all are correct on one thing, though..

    This IS going to be a wave election in 2018..

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c3502d55d52cb6f595dd11fe6378effc06411b9862d4def03ad4cb445f0d1156.jpg?w=800&h=507

    Just not the wave ya'all want it to be...

  17. [17] 
    Michale wrote:

    Why is it that the only one who seems even remotely hysterical in their comments is the one accusing everyone else of suffering from HYSTERIA?

    Because I am the only one here NOT suffering from PTDS...

    DUH.....

    If you want to read a case study in hysterical ideologically based emotionalism, all you need do is reread your own posts!

    Says the guy who suffers from PTDS....

    :D

  18. [18] 
    Michale wrote:

    I seem to recall someone here saying last year that Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world..

    Is Angela Merkel Done For?

    In a recent poll, half of German voters said they wanted her to resign and allow another member of her center-right Christian Democratic Party to negotiate the formation of a governing coalition. Grumblings are heard within the party too, which did relatively poorly in the elections. Recently, members of the Junge Union, the party’s youth organization, directly called for her to step aside.
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/11/opinion/angela-merkel-coalition-germany.html

    Another WRONG Anti-Trump prediction.. :D

  19. [19] 
    Michale wrote:

    Backpedal in 3.... 2..... 1......

    :D

  20. [20] 
    neilm wrote:

    In a recent poll

    So approval rating polls are suddenly important. How's the clown doing?

    -16.7

    Not too well, as usual.

    https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/other/president_trump_job_approval-6179.html

  21. [21] 
    Michale wrote:

    So approval rating polls are suddenly important.

    They are when they support your hysteria.. :D

    Face the facts, Neil.. You blew the Merkel call..

    Man up and own it...

  22. [22] 
    neilm wrote:

    Face the facts, Neil.. You blew the Merkel call..

    I was right at the time. I didn't say she would always be in power in Germany - that would be asinine.

    Plus she is going thru a period of unrest in German politics, so it isn't surprising.

    However she is still Chancellor and is still the de facto leader of the free world now the U.S. has lost its interest in being a player on the World stage.

  23. [23] 
    neilm wrote:

    Man up and own it...

    Since you are suddenly willing to accept results from polls, what do you think of the current -16.7 average on RealClear?

    Man up.

  24. [24] 
    Paula wrote:

    Major media has struggled all along with Blotus because they simply don't know how to cover a lying-sack-of-crap who is in the WH, backed by GOP toady/traitors and supported by American nazis and nazi-sympathisers. Reporters grew up in America, before the GOP sold out, and simply were never trained on how to cover dictators, and dictator-d!ck-lickers and rightwing thugs.

    Meanwhile, Blotus's handlers don't want him on the air because they know he's unable to answer direct questions about anything remotely complicated without exhibiting both gross ignorance and mental deterioration.

  25. [25] 
    Michale wrote:

    I was right at the time.

    BBBWWWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

    Seriously, THAT is the best you got??? :D

    However she is still Chancellor and is still the de facto leader of the free world now the U.S. has lost its interest in being a player on the World stage.

    So, on the one hand you are claiming you were right at the time and NOW you are claiming that you are STILL right...

    :D

    PTDS established... :D

  26. [26] 
    Michale wrote:

    ince you are suddenly willing to accept results from polls, what do you think of the current -16.7 average on RealClear?

    You mean, the 39.8% on RCP?? Something ya'all said would never rise again from the 37% ya'all went on and on and on about?? :D

    Well, if you live and die by the polls, as ya'all have done, I am sure it's comfort for ya'all... :D

    Just as the polls were comfort for ya in Nov of 2016...

    Howz yer comfort now?? :D

  27. [27] 
    Kick wrote:

    C. R. Stucki
    11

    Good points.

    I would add that so much of "Trump" the myth has always involved con artistry and his willingness to screw over his vendors, contractors, investors, and the common man. In short, he's a cheater. He has no core convictions outside of himself and the "Trump" brand and therefore says whatever he thinks the people/crowd he's talking to want to hear. He is the epitome of an opportunist.

    After burning so many people and multiple bridges with investors and financial institutions in America, he had to take his show overseas. Pay no attention when the Orange Blowhole says he has "nothing to do with Russia whatsoever." He is lying.

  28. [28] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    24

    This is awesome. :)

    Won't it be fun when Trump has to answer to Mueller's team of prosecutors?

    SPOILER ALERT: He sucks at being deposed because he's a pathological liar.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/politics/2016-election/trump-lies/?utm_term=.5332d55aecb3

  29. [29] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    Michale [18]:

    Here's how you properly deconstruct an opinion article like that about Merkel:

    Is Angela Merkel Done For?
    by Alexander Görlach

    Görlach is an ideological opponent of Merkel. An academic who was born to Turkish migrants, but raised by a white German family, Görlach left Merkel's party, the CDU, in 2016 to join the German Liberal Party (FDP) primarily over the issue of immigration - many members of the FDP believe that immigration is bad for Germany for roughly the same reasons that supposedly 'liberal' unions in the US oppose NAFTA: they don't like the competition for jobs.

    In a recent poll, half of German voters said they wanted her to resign and allow another member of her center-right Christian Democratic Party to negotiate the formation of a governing coalition.

    The other half voted for Merkel or one of her allies. The 'other member' of the CDU that Görlach backs is named Jens Spahn, an openly gay conservative who has been quoted as saying that Merkel's immigration policy "perhaps put too much emphasis on the humanitarian approach".

    Grumblings are heard within the party too, which did relatively poorly in the elections. Recently, members of the Junge Union, the party’s youth organization, directly called for her to step aside.

    Spahn was a former leader of the JU, and intra-party rival of Merkel's, so that follows.

    The US analogy might be a liberal academic backing Marco Rubio over Jeb Bush over the issue of Free Trade.

    The reason this is important to us is because nationalistic anti-immigrant Americans have been making common cause with politicians with similar views overseas, and have particularly criticized Merkel for successfully integrating hundreds of thousands of refugees in Germany.

    American Democrats have pointed out that the influence of Putin (who has the same animosity toward Merkel that he had for Hillary) is strong in this debate. During the German elections, Russians set their troll farms working to undermine Merkel within her own party, and presumably continue to do so today.

    If we don't do something in this country to stop Putin and his ersatz nationalist meddling, this is a preview of 2020 here: Russian dupes vs. Russian non-dupes.

  30. [30] 
    Kick wrote:

    A friend told me this joke today:

    A man arrives home hours late so his wife asks him: "Did you run into a lot of traffic?" The man replies: "No cheating... no cheating... absolutely no cheating... everyone agrees there's no cheating... my coworkers have confirmed no cheating... cheating has not been found... I've never even made a phone call about cheating."

  31. [31] 
    John M wrote:

    [16] Michale

    "Ya'all are correct on one thing, though..

    This IS going to be a wave election in 2018..

    Just not the wave ya'all want it to be..."

    Says the man who kept crowing about how Moore was going to win the election in Alabama, until Doug Jones became the next Senator. Say it with me again Michale Democratic Senator DOUG JONES. BWHAAAAAAAAA

  32. [32] 
    John M wrote:

    [18] Michale

    "I seem to recall someone here saying last year that Angela Merkel is now the leader of the free world..

    Is Angela Merkel Done For?

    Another WRONG Anti-Trump prediction.. :D"

    Yet another case of Michale not reading his own links. Since if you do read it, you will find out that the article actually says two things:

    1.) The Germans could hold another election, with the results being the same. Merkel's party would still be the largest vote getter and be asked to form a government.

    2.) The leading contender to take over Merkel's leadership of her Christian Democratic party from Angela Merkel is openly GAY Jens Spahn who recently married his husband.

  33. [33] 
    Paula wrote:

    [28] Kick: We should lay our bets now on whether Blotus will take questions from Mueller.

    I think "no". He'll either take the fifth, or he'll refuse altogether, which will create another problem, but one we have plenty of republican cowards available to meet. He literally is not capable of testifying without lying, I believe. We will soon learn which is stronger: his hubris or his fundamental instinct for self-preservation. It won't bother him at all that he puffed about how he was willing to testify in public back during the campaign. It WILL bother him that HRC testified in public, under oath, for 11 hours and emerged victorious, but he'll wimp out anyway and assuage himself by tweeting nasty things about her for a week after he starts getting hammered for ducking. But I think he'll duck - he'll say "make me" and wait to see if any our institutions are willing to push back, and how hard.

  34. [34] 
    Paula wrote:

    Blotus refers to Haiti as a "shithole" -- Washington Post prints that - a first, and Jim Acosta on CNN finally goes there: POTUS has a problem with POC.

    https://talkingpointsmemo.com/edblog/this-is-must-watch

  35. [35] 
    Balthasar wrote:

    (Washington Post) President Trump grew frustrated with lawmakers Thursday in the Oval Office when they floated restoring protections for immigrants from Haiti, El Salvador and African countries as part of a bipartisan immigration deal, according to two people briefed on the meeting.

    “Why are we having all these people from shithole countries come here?” Trump said, according to these people, referring to African countries and Haiti. He then suggested that the United States should instead bring more people from countries like Norway, whose prime minister he met Wednesday.

    Trump is about to discover that the shithole is what he just stepped into. Knee deep.

  36. [36] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale [6] -

    Once again, I beg of you... change it to "TDS" so it's not confused with shell shock...

    I'm not sayin' you can't use the term, just use one that everyone can easily grasp, that's all. Just like "BDS" and "ODS" before it...

    -CW

  37. [37] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:
  38. [38] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    33

    Kick: We should lay our bets now on whether Blotus will take questions from Mueller.

    Oh, this one is easy. He'll take questions even if he has to be subpoenaed in order to do it. I think your assessment there is pretty much right on the money.

    We will soon learn which is stronger: his hubris or his fundamental instinct for self-preservation.

    Also easy... Self. Will he take the 5th? Probably, yes, on most questions, but it won't matter. Mueller already has the answers.

    Expect Trump's Twitter feed to go nuts next week when Steve Bannon has a long talk with Mueller's team. Bannon has been known to talk at length, you know. ;)

  39. [39] 
    Kick wrote:

    Paula
    34

    Blotus refers to Haiti as a "shithole" -- Washington Post prints that - a first, and Jim Acosta on CNN finally goes there: POTUS has a problem with POC.

    Haiti AND shithole countries in Africa. Trump said he wants people from countries like Norway so he rejected a bipartisan immigration deal.

    Trump has always been a bigot going back decades... nothing really new to see here as far as Trump, but it'll sure be interesting to hear what the other lawmakers have to say in his defense... since there really is no defense of this at all... NONE.

  40. [40] 
    Michale wrote:

    JM,

    Says the man who kept crowing about how Moore was going to win the election in Alabama, until Doug Jones became the next Senator. Say it with me again Michale Democratic Senator DOUG JONES. BWHAAAAAAAAA

    Will you be able to say Senator Doug Jones after the 2020 election??

    Nope.. :D

    So, I got one wrong..

    Ya'all have been wrong about President Trump HUNDREDS of times.. :D

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