|Sarah Huckabee Sanders|
Kudos to Public Relations Society of America for calling on Donald Trump “to reestablish the all-important, traditional role of the press secretary to advocate for a free press and keep American citizens well-informed about actions being taken that will affect their lives.”
The Society’s June 19 statement follows Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ decision to “officially” quit the White House press secretary job, though, in reality, she walked away from that post a long time ago, holding only two press briefings during the past six months.
Sanders spent that down time auditioning for a contributor job at Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News by appearing more than a dozen times since mid-March on programs such as “Fox & Friends,” “America’s Newsroom,” “Hannity,” “Fox News Sunday,” “Outnumbered Overtime” and “Watters’ World.”
While PRSA is earnest, it's naïve to think the president agrees that routine and frequent press briefings provide the press the opportunity, as representatives of the people, “to ask in-depth, comprehensive questions and receive answers that inform the broader public.”
Trump, not known to ever smile, would bust a gut if he read PRSA’s statement, saying the critical function of the press is to scrutinize and hold the government accountable because that “aids in an open, honest and objective decision-making that is crucial to democratic societies.” He might even call it "fake news."
PRSA’s heart is in the right place, but the White House press secretary job may just as well remain vacant while Trump remains in office.
He is his own mouthpiece. And Twitter is his megaphone.
On the same day PRSA issued its appeal, the Wall Street Journal published an op-ed piece by New York Times publisher A.G. Sulzberger who took Trump to task for charging the paper with a virtual act of treason.
“He’s gone from misrepresenting our business, to assaulting our integrity, to demonizing our journalism with a phrase that’s been used by generations of demagogues,” he wrote.
Trump objected to the Times story about US intelligence hacking into Russia’s electrical grid.
Prior to publication, the paper cleared the story with the White House Security Council, National Security Agency and US Cyber Command. They raised no national security concerns.
Sulzberger wrote of the treason allegation: “There is no more serious charge a commander-in-chief can make against an independent news organization. Which presents a troubling question: What would it look like for Mr. Trump to escalate his attacks on the press further? Having already reached for the most incendiary language available, what is left but putting his threats into action?
Trump got it wrong when he rolled out “Make America Great Again” as his first campaign slogan, a pitch that has now morphed into “Keep American Great.”
Sulzberger got it right in the WSJ: “Mr. Trump’s campaign against journalists should concern every patriotic American. A free, fair and independent press is essential to our country’s strength and vitality and to every freedom that makes it great."
Put that on a bumper sticker.