What The Fuck Just Happened Today?

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The Normal Person's Guide to 45’s First 45 Fucking Days

It started with a debate over crowd sizes and alternative facts, and has morphed into cell phone checks for White House staffers and the banning of major media outlets from a press briefing. The war on media in first 45-days has seen everything.


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1/ Trump used his first full day in office to unleash a remarkably bitter attack on the news media, falsely accusing journalists of both inventing a rift between him and intelligence agencies and deliberately understating the size of his inauguration crowd. (New York Times)

2/ Sean Spicer attacked media for accurately reporting inauguration crowds. “This was the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said, contradicting all available data. Aerial photos have indicated that former president Barack Obama’s first inauguration attracted a much larger crowd. Nielsen ratings show that Obama also had a bigger television audience. Spicer, at times almost yelling while reading a prepared statement, took no questions. (CNN)

3/ Kellyanne Conway said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that the White House had put forth “alternative facts” to the ones reported by the news media about the size of Trump’s inauguration crowd. (New York Times)

4/ Spicer: "Negative" Trump coverage is "demoralizing." The White House press secretary pushed back at what he said was negative coverage of the Trump White House, describing the media narrative as “demoralizing. It’s not just about a crowd size. There’s this constant theme to undercut the enormous support he has,” Spicer said of Trump. (The Hill)

5/ Steve Bannon says media should “keep its mouth shut.” Trump’s chief strategist, laced into the American press during an interview, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by an election outcome few anticipated, and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration. (New York Times)

6/ Trump continued his longstanding assault on media outlets. This time labeling the NY Times as “fake news,” and said that it and the Washington Post’s coverage of Trump has been “so false and angry.” It is unclear as to what prompted Trump’s criticism. (Politico)

7/ White House ices out CNN. Trump administration refuses to put officials on air on the network the president called “fake news.” (Politico)

8/ Kellyanne Conway cites “Bowling Green massacre” that never happened to defend travel ban. Kellyanne Conway has taken “alternative facts” to a new level. During a Thursday interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, the counselor to the president defended President Trump’s travel ban related to seven majority-Muslim countries. At one point, Conway made a reference to two Iraqi refugees whom she described as the masterminds behind “the Bowling Green massacre.” (Washington Post)

9/ Conway admits “Bowling Green massacre” error. “Honest mistakes abound,” she wrote on Twitter. (New York Times)

10/ Trump posted a false news report to his Facebook page and got thousands of shares. The report claimed that Kuwait had also issued a visa ban on several Muslim-majority countries after President Trump’s immigration order. They didn’t. (BuzzFeed News)

11/ Trump is now speculating that the media is covering up terrorist attacks. Trump went off his prepared remarks to make a truly stunning claim: The media was intentionally covering up reports of terrorist attacks and complicit in making terrorists successful. It’s part of a recent pattern of suggesting that others are standing in the way of his terrorism-fighting efforts, which includes disparaging a federal judge who halted his immigration executive order. (Washington Post)

12/ Trump says “negative polls are fake news.” Trump turned to Twitter early Monday and began challenging polls that showed his travel order was not popular. (New York Times)

13/ WH official: We’ll say “fake news” until media realizes attitude of attacking the President is wrong. Trump and his staff have repeatedly used the term “fake news” to discredit reporting on the administration, often offering no evidence to back up their disputes with those outlets’ stories. (CNN)

14/ Trump faults media while lying about murder rate. Trump has suggested that the national news media suppresses bad news about violence. He has implied that this is for ideological reasons. (CNN)

15/ Spicer misspoke on attack, meant Orlando, not Atlanta. Three times in one week, Spicer alluded to a terror attack in Atlanta by someone from overseas. Spicer eventually admitted he misspoke. Oops. (CNN)

16/ Trump: The “real story” of Flynn resignation is illegal leaks. In October, he told the crowd at a campaign rally “I love WikiLeaks” as the group continued to release hacked emails from Clinton’s top aides. (The Hill)

17/ Donald Trump delivered a series of raw and personal attacks on the media in a news conference for the ages. It was a return to what worked for him during the course of the 2016 campaign: A circuslike atmosphere in which he used the media — and his supporters’ distrust of the media — as a sort of tackling dummy to re-center the narrative on ground more favorable to him. Trump didn’t just run down the media — although he did a lot of that — but he also mocked various outlets, reviewed shows on cable TV that he likes (and doesn’t), told reporters to sit down and be quiet, and critiqued the quality of the questions he was being asked. There was a rawness to his attacks, a personal invective that seemed well beyond the typically antagonistic relationship that exists between the media and the president they cover. This was not a piece of political strategy. This came right from Trump’s gut. (Washington Post)

18/ Trump call the news media “the enemy of the American people” in his escalating war against journalists. Trump has regularly referred to the media as the “opposition party,” and has blamed news organizations for stymieing his presidential agenda. But the language he deployed typically used by presidents to refer to hostile foreign governments or terrorist organizations. (New York Times)

19/ Trump yells at CIA Director Mike Pompeo for not pushing back hard enough against reports that the intelligence community was withholding information from him. The White House denied the report. The president “did not yell at the CIA director,” a White House spokesperson said. (CBS News)

20/ CNN host Don Lemon abruptly ended his segment after a commentator continued to call a story they were discussing “fake news” while defending Trump. Lemon was moderating a discussion on the cost of Trump’s visits to Mar-a-Lago in Florida when Paris Dennard, a political analyst and commentator, called it “fake news.” Dennard insisted that “this is a fake news story,” after which Lemon ended the segment altogether. (The Hill)

21/ Reince Priebus advised Americans to take Trump’s attacks on the media “seriously,” following the president’s denunciations of the press as the “enemy.” The chief of staff continued to hammer the press for its coverage, saying “the American people suffer” because of it. (CBS News)

22/ Defense Secretary Mattis disagrees with Trump, says he does not see media as the enemy. Mattis, asked directly about Trump’s criticism of the media, said he has had “some rather contentious times with the press” but considers the institution “a constituency that we deal with.” The defense secretary added: “I don’t have any issues with the press myself.” (Washington Post)

23/ “That’s how dictators get started”: McCain criticizes Trump for calling the media “the enemy” during “Meet the Press” interview. Trump lashed out against the news media several times over the past week, at one point declaring it “the enemy of the American People!” (Washington Post)

24/ “Last night in Sweden”? Trump’s remark baffles a nation. During a campaign-style rally on Saturday in Florida, Trump issued a sharp if discursive attack on refugee policies in Europe, ticking off a list of places that have been hit by terrorists. Nothing particularly nefarious happened in Sweden on Friday — or Saturday, for that matter — and Swedes were left baffled. (New York Times)

25/ The FBI rejected a White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Trump’s associates and Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. Comey rejected the request for the FBI to comment on the stories, because the alleged communications between Trump associates and Russians known to US intelligence are the subject of an ongoing investigation. The White House did issue its own denial, with Priebus calling The New York Times story “complete garbage.” (CNN)

26/ State Department writes anti-leak memo, which promptly leaks. It’s the latest sign that the relationship between the Trump administration’s appointees and the State Department’s professional workforce is still very much a work in progress. (Washington Post)

27/ Trump denounces FBI over leaks and demands an investigation. Trump assailed the FBI as a dangerously porous agency, charging that leaks of classified information from within its ranks were putting the country at risk. (New York Times)

28/ Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials and key lawmakers to counter news stories about ties to Russia. Acting at the behest of the White House, officials made calls to news organizations in an attempt to challenge stories about alleged contact between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives. The calls were orchestrated by the White House after unsuccessful attempts by the administration to get senior FBI officials to speak with news organizations and dispute the accuracy of stories on the alleged contacts with Russia. (Washington Post)

29/ The New York Times, CNN and Politico were prohibited from attending a White House briefing by Trump’s press secretary. Spicer allowed reporters from only a handpicked group of news organizations: Breitbart News, the One America News Network and The Washington Times, all with conservative leanings. Journalists from ABC, CBS, The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and Fox News also attended. “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties,” Dean Baquet, the executive editor of The Times, said in a statement. “We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.” (New York Times)

30/ Trump turns the power of the White House against the news media, escalating his attacks on journalists as “the enemy of the people” and berating members of his own F.B.I. as “leakers” who he said were putting the nation at risk. (New York Times)

31/ Sean Spicer targets own staff in leak crackdown. After becoming aware that information had leaked out of a planning meeting, Spicer reconvened his staff and told them to dump their phones on a table for a “phone check,” to prove they had nothing to hide. Spicer also warned the group of more problems if news of the phone checks and the meeting about leaks was leaked to the media. (Politico)

32/ Bush breaks with Trump, calling the media “indispensable to democracy.” Recalling his own presidency, when he was often the target of withering media critique, Bush said he devoted significant time to extolling the virtues of a free and independent press around the world. Trump has called the press “the enemy of the American people.” (Politico)

33/ Sean Spicer personally arranged CIA and GOP intelligence push-back in attempts to discredit a New York Times article about alleged contacts between members of Trump’s campaign team and Russian intelligence operatives.

On February 15th, Spicer called CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Senate Select Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr, and connected them with reporters from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. Pompeo and Burr told the journalists that the New York Times story wasn’t true but provided no details.

The Washington Post reported on the push back Friday with the article, “Trump administration sought to enlist intelligence officials, key lawmakers to counter Russia stories.” (Axios)

34/ Trump signed off on checking White House staffers’ phones to make certain they weren’t communicating with reporters by text message or through encrypted apps. The decision sent a signal across the administration that Trump is furious at leaks from inside the White House. (CNN)


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