We Will Set the Rules, Not You: US Media to President-Elect Trump

The open letter asks the incoming US President to brace for “accurate, fearless reporting”.

Updated
World
3 min read
Donald Trump. (Photo: AP)

The American Press Corps, a group of journalists stationed at the White House, has written a combative open letter to President-elect Donald Trump, saying that the words and actions of his administration will be under close scrutiny. The letter also asks the incoming POTUS to brace for “accurate, fearless reporting”.

Warning Trump against shutting access to the media, the Corps writes it was the media’s “airtime and column inches” that he is trying to influence.

the Corps refers to reports that the new press secretary is considering pulling news media offices out of the White House. Trump has also banned journalists and organisations from covering him, taken to Twitter to taunt and threaten them, mocked a disabled journalist, and avoided the press. But the Corps have now drawn the line where it should stop.

Its open letter outlines what Trump can expect from journalists during his term. We, not you, decide how best to serve our readers, listeners, and viewers, the letter begins.

You may decide that giving reporters access to your administration has no upside. We think that would be a mistake on your part, but again, it’s your choice. We are very good at finding alternative ways to get information; indeed, some of the best reporting during the campaign came from news organisations that were banned from your rallies. 

The Corps also says that it is the media which decides how much space to give to the President and his spokespeople as “It is, after all, our airtime and column inches that you are seeking to influence”. The letter also says that the words and tweets of the Trump administration will be under close scrutiny.

When you or your surrogates say or tweet something that is demonstrably wrong, we will say so, repeatedly. Facts are what we do, and we have no obligation to repeat false assertions; the fact that you or someone on your team said them is newsworthy, but so is the fact that they don’t stand up to scrutiny. Both aspects should receive equal weight.

The letter says the people want to know about the workings of the government and that’s exactly what will be told to them. They added that journalists will now set much higher standards for themselves.

“We credit you with highlighting serious and widespread distrust in the media across the political spectrum. Your campaign tapped into that, and it was a bracing wake-up call for us,” the letter reads. “We have to regain that trust. And we’ll do it through accurate, fearless reporting, by acknowledging our errors and abiding by the most stringent ethical standards we set for ourselves.”

The letter added that press needs to work with the President and they need to cooperate and coexist. “When you shout down or ignore a reporter at a press conference who has said something you don’t like, you’re going to face a unified front,” the Corps writes. "We’ll work together on stories when it makes sense, and make sure the world hears when our colleagues write stories of importance. “

The Corps reminds Trump that journalists have been around since the republic’s beginning and are in it for the long haul.

Our role in this great democracy has been ratified and reinforced again and again and again. You have forced us to rethink the most fundamental questions about who we are and what we are here for. For that we are most grateful.

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