For journalists across the nation watching coverage of President Donald Trump makes you squirm, to say the least. The recent press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was frustrating to listen to on so many levels.
I was driving to work and listening intently, knowing there were several areas where the two leaders disagreed, and hoping the media in the room would push the issue and ask the tough questions, pushing for answers.
This was the question posted by Tonda MacCharles of the Toronto Star’s Ottawa bureau.
“President Trump, you seem to suggest that Syrian refugees are a Trojan horse for potential terrorism, while the Prime Minister hugs refugees and welcomes them with open arms. So I’d like to know, are you confident the northern border is secure?”
President Trump’s answer follows:
“You can never be totally confident. But through the incredible efforts — already I see it happening — of formerly General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, we have really done a great job. We’re actually taking people that are criminals — very, very hardened criminals in some cases, with a tremendous track record of abuse and problems — and we’re getting them out. And that’s what I said I would do. I’m just doing what I said I would do when we won by a very, very large Electoral College vote. And I knew that was going to happen. I knew this is what people were wanting. And that wasn’t the only reason, that wasn’t my only thing that we did so well on. But that was something was very important. And I said we will get the criminals out, the drug lords, the gang members. We’re getting them out. General Kelly, who is sitting right here, is doing a fantastic job. And I said at the beginning we are going to get the bad ones — the really bad ones, we’re getting them out. And that’s exactly what we’re doing. I think that in the end, everyone is going to be extremely happy. And I will tell you right now, a lot of people are very, very happy right now.”
There was no mention of the northern border, just reference to the immigration crackdown taking place currently. There was never a follow-up by another reporter, in part because so few reporters were called on, and they appeared to be specifically selected.
Not once was there a question about National Security Advisor Michael Flynn
There continues to be concerning to many journalists about who is allowed to ask questions during a press availability and who is not, while Trump is known for bucking the establishment that also presents a concern for transparency.
You can watch the press conference here:
So how do you cover the Trump administration? Several media outlets are asking that same question Reuters is giving its staff some guidance.
As journalists, we need to keep pushing and looking. You may not get the direct answers from the White House so it may be best to cover other beats more intently.
Do not be intimidated. That is exactly what several journalistic organizations say they will do.
We know the rules are different in the Trump Administration, but the American people deserves to learn what is happening in the White House.
As a journalist, I am frustrated, as an educator I need to remind the future journalists that they cannot cave and continue to ask the tough questions. When you do not get the answers, ask again, and maybe even take a new approach by asking someone else in the administration.