Brian Stelter and his panel discuss how journalists manage Trump's barrage of lies and ignorance as he grants them greater access.
October 14, 2018

Brian Stelter zoomed out on his program, Reliable Sources, to talk about the general journalistic conundrum of having access to powerful political players when all they spew is misinformation. At the top of that list, of course, is Donnie boy, who feeds on attention and adulation above all else, and will say and do anything to get it. Nearly four years into his catastrophic political career, journalists are still trying (and failing) to get the right balance.

The Orange Cream Puff is getting less coverage on his favorite enabling channel, Fox "News," and Gabby Orr reported that this is not only frustrating for him, but also for other Republican candidates relying on that coverage for their own political benefit. See, it turns out that even people who watch Fox get sick of the live coverage of Trumpolini's rallies every night, what with him saying the same thing every single time (NOTHING) and them missing their favorite programs as a result.

So, P(redator)OTUS's coverage is waning because frankly, his ratings aren't that great anymore. That really stomps on his withered heart the most. Without ratings, he knows he's a loser, baby. David Zurawik brought up our dear leader's pathetic display, "sucking up to Fox" at a recent rally, in a last ditch attempt to get coverage restored. Orr said the White House Communications Chairman, former Foxie Bill Shine, is even reaching out to Fox to see if they can go back to the way things were (cue "You Don't Bring Me Flowers Anymore...") but it hasn't seemed to go anywhere.

So, President Biff is taking it elsewhere - calling into different Fox shows, getting chatty with the press on the WH lawn, trying to use Sinclair Media the way he used Fox, anything to continue to dominate the screen and headlines. White House briefings are all but dead — we get one a month if we're lucky — and Stelter asked Doug Heye if it even mattered. "It is absolutely important, because what they may ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders is different than what they would ask the president. It is more of the feedback from the White House, and holding them accountable," he said. "[W]e are not getting the accountability on a day-to-day basis from the White House that we need."

In addition to the lack of accountability, we have inundation of the airwaves with lies and misinformation. Those two things often go hand in hand in this administration, and journalists are increasingly at a loss to find a way just to manage them both. Furthermore, David Zurawik predicted that the lower Trumplestiltzkin's ratings get, the angrier and more unpredictable and frenetic he'll be, leading to an even more difficult job for journalists, and a more chaotic time for people they're trying to inform.

Well, I don't know how you could possibly keep up. The more grows exponentially with his presence on tv, the tougher it gets. And you were absolutely right at the top of the show. He has polluted our information ecosystem, he's made it almost toxic. When you combine him with the troll farm in St. Petersburg and the Russians and other people, this is a really dangerous situation. And listen, trump can go on tv and say something incredibly stupid or something horrible in terms of the foreign relations, and it almost doesn't matter, because he is on to the next thing talking about it, and we're always chasing him. Look, the only comfort I take in all of this right now is that a long time ago on this show I said that "Apprentice" and everybody said it was such a hit, but if you look at its ratings arc, it was declining steeply. There is a law that the Nielsen gods giveth, and the Nielsen gods taketh, and I think that trump may be in decline in terms of his popularity on television, and starting to feel it. That is going to make him even more helter skelter and crazy, and we will get more of it, but the threat to democracy about the kinds of the lies, disinformation that he pumps out there is real, a real danger, and we have to stay vigilant about it and try to fact-check him.

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