Frictions? Between the press corps and the White House?!
Monday’s White House press briefing made Sunday night’s languorous (if now comically notorious) Oscars ceremony look like the Ringling Bros. Barnum & Bailey Circus (absent the elephants).
It was all tranquil, rife with policy questions and only one passing reference to Friday’s combo tumult: President Trump trashing the press before an annual gathering of conservatives and Press Secretary Sean Spicer barring some prominent media outlets from an off-camera “gaggle” in his office.
The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a protest but its leader underscored a desire to make peace with the White House. Not long after, Trump disclosed that he wasn’t going to its annual dinner, which association leader Jeff Mason said Monday on CNN had caught him by surprise.
A few minutes later, the briefing ensued. It was all very civil and little, if any, news was made as Spicer confronted mostly policy-oriented questions, and a flurry on alleged Trump campaign contacts with Russia, on the eve of Trump’s address to a joint session of Congress Tuesday and the imminent unveiling of his first budget.
A half-dozen queries from ABC News’ Jonathan Karl about the Trump-Russia story started things off, with no new ground resulting as Spicer asserted no improper contacts with the Russians or government agencies in subsequently knocking down the stories.
It was then off to lots of serious queries about the budget and Trump’s address. They included whether there will be money for a new anti-ISIS strategy and, inevitably, where Trump will find reductions to meet congressional mandates and match much-touted (if, as yet, no specific) hikes in Pentagon, border and other spending.
The only reference to Friday’s discord came in a question asking Spicer to be more specific about whom his boss deemed a “public enemy” when he berates media.
Spicer said Trump was referring to “fake news” and people writing “fake stories.”
It was a non-response response and didn’t prompt any follow-up since Spicer then bid the assembled adieu for the day.
For a press secretary who’s probably made too much news in the early going, it was surely a minor victory that the press would strain to discern anything much of note in his latest performance.
Chief Media Writer
New York City native, graduate of Collegiate School, Amherst College and Roosevelt University. Married to Cornelia Grumman, dad of Blair and Eliot. National columnist, U.S. News & World Report. Former managing editor and Washington Bureau Chief, Chicago Tribune. Former Washington Bureau Chief, New York Daily News. Current or former contributor to The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Vanity Fair, Daily Beast, CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.