Howie: In the midst of a fierce media debate over the Russia investigation, the hotly disputed memo and the state of the union, I was in New York when I spoke with Sean Spicer, the former White House press secretary.
Much of the media are painting a picture of the president going after the media to undercut the Mueller investigation. Sean: The president has a right to make his position clear on issues. Between top investigators at the FBI, there seems to be some merit to the president’s concern. If you are going to be investigated, you have a right to make sure people understand the full context of what’s going on.
In leave it those text messages, there were people who had been about their dislike of the president. Howie: Will you concede there is partisanship on both side. If Barack Obama were under investigation and was pushing for the release of classified information, and if you were at the RNC, you would be going bonkers. Sean: Sure, I’ll give you that. The DNC folks, I don’t know if they have the money to have staff these days. That’s their job. That’s what you do. The difference is as a citizen, and as a journalist to some degree, people have to be able to sit back and figure out, okay, call balls and strikes. If you are a fan of a team, when your pitcher is out there every pitch looks like a strike to you. That’s why we have umpires. Howie: The president was criticizing his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions and you had to navigate the difficult waters. Sean: There were a lot of difficult things, that wasn’t on the list. Howie: The state of the union were here is what he had to say about that.
President Trump: Even the haters gave us good reviews. They came up with fake polls. But the fake polls were even good. Howie: Haters? Fake polls. Sean: You look at CNN. It did its own poll. 70% of independent thought it was a good speech and they found ways to talk about it wasn’t a good speech. If you are going to do a poll. What’s the point of doing it if everyone on air — if they throw out all that and talk about how bad it was. I have seen dial test polls from CNN and other outlets that said it was well received. It was amazing to watch the hand wringing from the mainstream media. He gave a really good speech.
Howie: Let’s clear up something from my book “Media madness.” My account is based on four sources. But Jonathan martin is denying it. When you were at the RNC, he had a conversation with a staffer that worked for you. Shiewn the staffer related a story in the midst of a discussion they had been told by him that by being a spokeperson in supporting the president, then candidate, and his policies, they — were complicit in being a racist and they were concerned with that accusation. Howie: Is it true you called the “New York Times” and you got a call from Jonathan martin. —
Sean: I called and said that was inappropriate behavior from a reporter. I got a call back from Jonathan saying he didn’t find it acceptable that I had gone to his editor to express his concerns. Howie: You said?
Sean: I said I haver right. The behavior and accusations you launched against the staffer were uncalled for and I have every right to call the editor to express my displeasure. Howie: The president used the term “Haters.” I don’t think he means everyone. The overwhelming negative coverage of the president you worked for is not just ideology. There is something cultural about it. Something about Donald Trump as a candidate and as a president gets under their skin. What did you come away with after all those months of doing combat in the White House. Sean: The pew poll which is well regard shows the negative coverage of trump is three times that of anyone close. I think it was 5% of the coverage was positive which is significantly less. I have always been a believe the press’ job is to be tough. But it’s also to be fair.
You call balls and strikes. Here is what the policy is, here is what the actions are. But I think the media has a conservative bias. Howie: Against conservatives, you mean. Sean: Correct. I know they whine and moan. But all the objective data backs that up. It’s not just what gets covered, but what doesn’t get covered. KURTZ: “Does President Trump contribute to the hostile relations with his attacks on fake news and hostile journalists?”
SPICER: “I think he has a responsibility to call them out. Part of the reason is when you get questions — let me give an example. A reporter calls and says some people are saying the president’s action are … Who? I think sometimes it’s the reporter who is their own source. They are going to koicht in some say, or people are saying. Who are those people. I talked to 18 voters. Here is what they say. I think reporters make up narratives that fit with what they believe. The problem is this. What makes this different is while reporters have always had an anti-republican and anti-conservative bias.
Regardless of party there has been a desire to develop the relationship recognizing I need you, reporters will tolerate Republicans and conservatives. The difference with trump is because of social media, he doesn’t need them like other politicians have needed the press in the past.”
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