The freedom of the press is codified as a right in the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but this means nothing to President-elect Donald Trump. What started as just a rumor has been confirmed by the Trump’s team that they are looking at options to remove the press’s ability to report directly from The White House. George Orwell’s classic dystopian tome “1984” is growing ever more prescient by the day.
Trump’s top propagandist, err press secretary, Sean Spicer confirmed, “There has been some discussion about how to do it.” He also said, “There has been no decision.”
After the embarrassing scene of Trump denying a CNN reporter the opportunity to ask a question because “You are fake news,” the possibility of Trump banning all outlets whose reporting he does not agree with from the White House is very real.
Watch that moment below:
At issue is the Trump team’s plan to remove the entire press corps from the White House press room to a different area other than the White House. Currently, two other areas are being proposed from which members of the press could do their reporting; either the White House Conference Center or in the Old Executive Office Building. While seeming innocuous on its face it is a stiff rebuke to the press who have been allowed to report from the White House since the 1910s during Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency. The last time the entire press were removed from the White House grounds was during the presidency of George W. Bush, who had an equally contentious relationship with them. The press’s removal lasted for a full year because the press room was being “remodeled”, according to the official story. However, the reality was Bush wanted breathing room from the press – just like Trump wants breathing room today.
A different Trump official anonymously revealed:
They are the opposition party. I want ’em out of the building. We are taking back the press room.
The concept of Trump and his team fully believing the press are their enemies is surely an ominous sign of what behavior to expect during his presidency. One should not be looking forward to transparency from Trump’s administration. Trump has publicly mused about tightening freedoms journalists enjoy so that he can sue them when they publish something he does not like. Trump said, “We’re going to have people sue you like you’ve never got sued before.” The pettiness of Trump is astonishing, but the tactic is productive in terms of intimidation. Trump has deep pockets and the far majority of journalists are not wealthy individuals. The prospect of having to defend themselves from a Trump lawsuit is one of journalists peering over a cliff of bankruptcy for merely doing their jobs.
Watch Trump muse about being able to sue journalists:
The United States is presently ranked 41st according to the World Press Freedom Index, which is a sorry statement in itself. Estonia, Namibia, The Czech Republic, Latvia, and Ghana all boast greater press freedoms than the United States. The ranking of the United States is surely going to plummet even further in a free fall if, and unfortunately when, Trump has his way.
Lou Colagiovanni is an investigative journalist living in Las Vegas who specializes in politics and crime. His work has been highlighted all over the world and he is regularly featured on television and radio.