Not at the White House with Trump

The Hill’s Jonathan Easley reports on the reception for conservative media at the White House late Monday afternoon. Easley himself didn’t attend the event. Easley relays the complaints of frustrated guests. Easley tentatively recounts a few of the questions asked at the event. For some reason he omits Trump’s answers. We see as through a glass darkly.

Okay, I’m going to come right out and say it. The limitations of Easley’s story made me feel pretty good about my breaking report and my full account.

As Easley correctly notes, the ground rules under which we were invited indicated the event was on background. We were instructed to leave our phones and devices outside the Roosevelt Room. We were not to record the president’s remarks.

Having forgotten my notebook at home, I traipsed around Dupont Circle in the rain on Monday morning with my loving daughter Alexandra to find a replacement. We tried a bookstore. We tried a stationery shop. I finally found what I was looking for at CVS.

I thought it served me well. Although there was some degree of difficulty writing while standing, I took notes on the questions and Trump’s answers in my new notebook from CVS. That’s a pro tip for Easley and his interlocutors.

After Trump spoke, the event was declared on the record. Why had it been placed on background to begin with? This seems to have reflected a miscalculation of some kind. The president has done a few 100-days’ interviews with hostile news outlets. The guests at the reception were not unfriendly. Indeed, when Sean Spicer saw Laura Ingraham hanging in the back of the room, he invited her to come up front to ask her question.

Trump began his remarks thanking the guests for their fairness in covering him. Joking or kidding on the square, he may have taken that back with respect to one guest he saw, but I was impressed that he had it right. Fairness is the measure and everyone I knew at the event had at least sought to treat the president fairly.

Trump himself seemed to think he was speaking on the record. He turned in an impressive performance. The event was, if anything, too short. Is it possible that the ground rules reflected some residual mistrust of conservative media? Compared to the New York Times? I find that hard to believe. I think the staff made a mistake.

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