Keith Olbermann examined the buried lede in reports that press briefings could be moved out of the White House under the Donald Trump administration.
Trump’s team has backed away from plans to move the press room, but they could greatly expand the number of reporters — which reminds Olbermann of how those official briefings are conducted in another country.
“The more the better, right?” Olbermann said. “Just the way it works in Russia — a giant crowd of reporters screaming for the leader’s attention, making signs indicating what organization they belong to, and even signs and props to indicate what questions they intend to ask.”
Olbermann conceded those White House press briefings won’t likely expose wrongdoing by the Trump administration or other crucial information, but he’s concerned the expansion of the press corps allows friendly plants to redirect news conferences to favor the president.
“Trump gave the stunt away at last week’s news conference,” Olbermann said. “He packed the place with people applauding for him. They have as much right to be at a presidential news conference as would people booing him — and that amount of people is none.”
Quadrupling the number of reporters at presidential briefings turn the events into campaign rallies and allow the Trump administration to more easily ignore reporters with serious questions, Olbermann said.
“You suddenly change from difficult to impossible any coordinated action to prevent Trump from repeating the other stunt he used in New York last week, singling out and attacking one reporter the way a bully picks out one kid from the crowd,” Olbermann said.
Olbermann recalled when the George W. Bush administration paid off columnist Armstrong Williams for positive coverage of the No Child Left Behind Act and issued White House press credentials to a shady non-journalist who called himself Jeff Gannon.
“The Bush administration at media manipulation, including literally buying good coverage, was amateurish compared to what we can expect from Trump,” he said. “They didn’t work because they were too easy to spot in the crowd. The solution? Make the crowd bigger.”