What on Earth does the political press think their job is?
We get a peak thanks to Donald Trump's lack of familiarity with press think. Experienced politicians are like zookeepers who keep the animals happy with regular feedings: press conferences, interviews, exclusive peaks behind the scenes, etc. Over time journalists have come to believe that these meal times are actually The First Amendment in action .
Just look at what happens when you mess with it (from NYT):
“As surely as if they were placing a hand over a journalist’s camera lens,” the three-page letter said, “officials in this administration are blocking the public from having an independent view of important functions of the executive branch of government.”
Huh? How is the White House hiding from the public? Well, sometimes they don't let photographers take pictures of "public events" like meetings with human rights activist and teenage girl Malala Yousafzai or a lunch for Palestinian and Isreali negotiators. (Obviously the press doesn't get to take pictures while the Secretary of State hosts negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, so what made the incident the photographers complained about different? The meeting was outside ! Could the ethics and values of journalism be any more pedantic and unrelated to the goal of an informed populace? I don't think so.)
Why did the Presidents thru history let press photographers into private meetings in the first place? Because they wanted the photos to be in the newspaper! Duh! So why stop now?
The Obama administration has embraced social media as a way to get its message to the public beyond the traditional news media. Senior officials post tweets and blog items, while the chief White House photographer, Pete Souza, posts photos of the president on Facebook, Flickr and Instagram, often minutes after they are taken.
The White House used to manipulate press photographers to get information to the public. Now, they skip the press and go directly to the public. Confused about what just happened, the press screams: "But, but, but... Democracy?!?!"
...protesting what photographers said amounted to the establishment of the White House’s own Soviet-style news service...
Trump the revealer
Imagining that feeding time is actually "an important check on power and part of the press's vital role in democracy" leaves a blinkered correspondent imagining that the following doesn't expose the press for fools, but somehow reflects badly on Trump!
Most Americans don’t know that reporters finance the bulk of presidential candidates’ campaign travel, by buying seats on the candidate’s charter plane. Mr. Trump has taken this a step further. He wants campaign reporters to pay for a charter to Scotland to open a Trump hotel property. Cost to reporters: $10,000 round trip, plus hotel and restaurant bills, which will probably be racked up at the two Trump-themed venues they’ll be visiting — if anyone signs up.
We can all agree that the press should not pay for seats on this plane. We can agree to that because the whole idea of embedding the press on campaign charters, at press expense IS INSANE!
Who cares what happens en route? Voters? Democracy? WTF!?!
This is the reductio ad absurdum of access journalism. Access has become substance, valued for its own sake.