It started late Saturday night, just after the football playoff game ended and the Saturday Night Live open began, when some news broke of great interest to me. Esquire reported that Trump transition officials, calling the White House Press Corps “the opposition party,” are considering essentially kicking the press out of the building.
As someone who has made a living because of the privileges afforded by the First Amendment for my entire career, I feel strongly about not infringing on our Constitution’s paramount principles as much as any value I cherish. I try to look for ways to communicate that feeling to those outside of the communications business, so they too don’t take this for granted. I have also taken advantage of many public speaking opportunities to talk about the difference between public entities and private businesses and how they should handle PR. So, in true modern-day form, I took to Twitter.
With this post, I tweeted, with a link to the Esquire story, “We, as citizens, own The White House. The Press Corps keeps an eye on the place for us.”
I write this 16 hours later and more than 40,000 Twitter users have seen this and hundreds have chosen to react to it, let’s just say, a variety of ways. That’s thanks to retweets from the likes of Ron Fournier, a former national journalist and new publisher/editor of Crain’s Detroit Business (full disclosure: I know Ron “in real life”) and Brian Stelter, a CNN journalist who covers the media itself and, subsequently, by Henry Blodget of Business Insider, who has more than 100,000 followers.
Want to know what’s it’s like on Twitter for someone who, even for a day, attracts a large following (on my own, I’m about 2,000)? Here’s a sampling of the responses, verbatim:
“Nobody has a more inflated view of themselves than journalists.”
“how about sexoffenders aren’t aloud to live in gov’t housing! This is a law the #DOJ should be using now!”
“Unfortunately the press corpse “eyes” have been shut tight over the last 8 years and have lost credibility”
“The press largely try to decide who we put in our WH. It’s that agenda that has lowered the esteem of journalism.”
“The lying FAKE NEWS is dead. We get our news directly from TRUMP. Journalism is dead! Gave Obama’s lies a pass.”
“I didn’t appreciate it at all, when Obama’s flooded OUR house with rainbow colors, celebrating gayness. Wrong!”
“We should demand his resignation this is a slap in the face of everything we stand for. It’s been there since T Roosevelt admin!”
“to bad you didn’t feel that way when Obama was in office.”
“Trump is a dictator commie pinko fascist.”
“ejecting the failing propaganda will be good for the american people!”
“It’s ok. Bc wall, or jobs or something. Who knows”
“Put them outside in a cold tent.”
“Press has thoroughly discredited itself. Until they earn people’s trust back, most are self-serving fake poseurs.”
“No, they don’t. They’re partisan hacks. If moving to a different room gives them so much agita, they’re coddled brats”
“Actually, you, the citizens, hired Trump to keep an eye on it.”
Is any of this representative of anything? The only certainty is that this has to be a challenge for anyone who has to wade through this every day. We have to remember that the First Amendment protects all of the above comments.
No matter your perspective on this particular issue, it’s an important reminder that all of us who depend on the First Amendment must be aware and speak up about threats to it, especially from the highest levels of our government.