To hide the fact that he had a tumor, Cleveland, in 1893, disappeared from Washington for four days to have surgery aboard a friend’s yacht. In 1913, Woodrow Wilson, who hated the press’s fascination with his three daughters, accused “certain evening newspapers” of quoting him on things he meant to stay off the record.
.. almost every President has adopted a fruitful, if tense, mutual dependence with the press. Each needs something from the other, and both sides know it.
.. Anonymity, ritually bemoaned and practiced by both sides, endures because it allows members of government, high and low, to speak more freely.
.. anonymity allowed the Washington Post to report, on the basis of nine sources, that Michael Flynn, the national-security adviser, had discussed Obama Administration sanctions with the Russian ambassador before Donald Trump took office
.. In Washington, anonymity, as Winston Churchill said of democracy, is a lousy solution, except for all the others.
.. But under Donald Trump, the dynamic between the press and the President has turned toxic.
.. I called the fake news ‘the enemy of the people’—and they are. They are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none.”
.. At one point, he posed changes that would effectively alter the First Amendment, saying, “They shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.” He added, “We’re going to do something about it.”
.. When Zeke Miller, of Time magazine, and Julie Pace, of the Associated Press—both of whom are on the board of the White House Correspondents Association—realized that organizations were being excluded, they left in protest.
.. The White House defended its actions by saying that every White House holds handpicked, off-the-record sessions, but reporters noted that this was an on-the-record briefing.
.. We don’t know if Spicer is under pressure to show that he’s being tougher with the press. We don’t know if this is another effort at manipulation to shift the topic from whether the Administration inappropriately tried to influence the F.B.I. on the Russian investigation.
.. “Senior Trump Aide Forged Key Ties to Anti-Semitic Groups in Hungary,” which focussed on Sebastian Gorka, a deputy assistant to the Presiden
.. “I think there is a clear effort to bring the press to heel
.. a clear effort to delegitimize credible sources of information so when something happens, when we or the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post pop a story, that there’s a record of already discrediting the source.”
.. Darrell Issa .. called, on Friday, for a special prosecutor to manage the investigation into contacts between Trump associates and Russia.
.. Barring a critical press is a step that Trump’s predecessors avoided even at the depths of scandal. During Watergate, Iran-Contra, and the Monica Lewinsky affair
.. He has at his disposal, and is using to full effect, something previous Presidents didn’t have: social media and a direct method of communication that bypasses the press.
.. most Presidents eventually calculate that it is a ruinous strategy that only intensifies an Administration’s isolation and deepens the public’s distrust.
.. During Grover Cleveland’s first Presidential campaign, in 1884, news broke that he had fathered an illegitimate child. He told his political aides and allies, “Whatever you do, tell the truth.” It contributed to his reputation and ultimately helped him win the White House.