COMMENTARY: Reporters Banned

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During World War II Edward R. Murrow noted that when circumstances prevented reporters from filing their stories, they would be covered by their colleagues. In more recent times it's been said you don't argue with someone who buys ink in 55-gallon drums. MTSU Professor of Journalism Dr. Larry Burris has more...

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In even more recent times, last week, President Trump, apparently in a fit of pique, banned a group of reporters from White House press briefings, then decided to skip the annual White House Correspondents dinner.

I have to wonder what he is trying to accomplish.

If the president was trying to silence unfriendly reporters, it simply won't work. Despite a drive to be first with a story, reporters often help each other cover stories. In fact, there is already a White House pool system in place to provide news coverage for those unable to attend the daily briefings. And since the press conference are almost always televised, a reporter could simply sit in an office and watch the entire press conference.

But I have to wonder if there isn't something else going on here.

Let's admit it, there is something of a rush in attending a White House press briefing. And directly asking a question of the president is something of a badge of honor.

So I wonder if the president isn't trying to play on the reporter's egos to try to silence them. Cooperate, or you don't get to attend.

We've seen the administration take on something of the air of a personality cult, where leaders take umbrage at the slightest perceived insult, and do their best to punish those who dare to criticize or question statements or policies.

What seems particularly interesting is the current administration praises an electorate they say saw through the supposed lies and errors of the media, yet seems to believe those same voters need to be protected from a prying and anti-Trump media.

But you can't have it both ways. You either trust the electorate or you don't. And apparently neither side has much trust in the voters who make electoral decisions.

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