Administration

Analysis: Only 3 percent of reports on CBS, NBC positive for Trump

THE HILL

A new analysis by a non-partisan media research firm shows that just 3 percent of the reports about President Trump that aired on NBC and CBS were deemed positive.

The data comes from an analysis by Media Tenor, an independent media research firm founded in 1993.

The firm’s analysts watched 370 news stories about Trump on the “NBC Nightly News,” “CBS Evening News” and Fox News’ “Special Report” between Jan. 20 and Feb. 17. Trump took office the day the analysis began.

Overall the analysis found that on NBC and CBS, 43 percent of stories on Trump were negative, while only 3 percent were positive. Fifty-four percent of reports were considered neutral.

On Fox News’s “Special Report”, the coverage also skewed negative, albeit to a lesser extent.
The Bret Baier-anchored news and analysis program that airs at 6 p.m. ET showed that exactly one-quarter of the reports about Trump were deemed negative by Media Tenor analysts, while 12 percent were deemed positive. The remaining 63 percent were seen as neutral.

The analysis also saw on a difference in terms of editorial focus between Fox and the two broadcast networks studied.

In the case of Fox News, the primary focus was on personnel decisions and economic news, with the latter being mostly positive for Trump since taking office, given record-breaking highs for the stock market and a favorable jobs report last month.

In contrast, NBC and CBS focused mainly on the president’s immigration policy and controversial immigration executive order. The study found that most of these reports were more negative than positive.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer criticized the media last month for being too negative toward the administration.

“The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing,” Spicer said.

“When we’re right, say we’re right. When we’re wrong, say we’re wrong.”

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Trump delays new travel ban after well-reviewed speech

CNN

President Donald Trump has delayed plans to sign a reworked travel ban in the wake of positive reaction to his first address to Congress, a senior administration official told CNN.

The decision came late Tuesday night as positive reviews flooded in for Trump’s speech, which struck a largely optimistic and unifying tone.

Signing the executive order Wednesday, as originally indicated by the White House, would have undercut the favorable coverage. The official didn’t deny the positive reception was part of the administration’s calculus in pushing back the travel ban announcement.

“We want the (executive order) to have its own ‘moment,'” the official said.

The sudden change of plans came as Trump and his top advisers returned to the White House after his address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night.

Trump’s original executive order, signed a week after he took office, banned citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the US and temporarily suspended the entry of all refugees. A federal court issued a temporary stay that halted implementation of the travel ban earlier this month, a decision that was later upheld by a federal appeals court.

The new travel ban will exclude legal permanent residents and existing visa holders from the ban entirely, sources familiar with the plans told CNN earlier Tuesday.

While sources caution that the document has not yet been finalized and is still subject to change, there will be major changes:

· The new executive order will make clear that legal permanent residents (otherwise known as green card holders) are excluded from any travel ban.

· Those with validly issued visas will also be exempt from the ban.

· The new order is expected to revise or exclude language prioritizing the refugee claims of certain religious minorities.

Speaking in Munich, Germany, earlier this month, Department of Homeland Secretary John Kelly promised a “phased-in” approach to minimize disruption this time around.

But what remains to be seen are the other key aspects of the new executive order, especially in terms of refugees, including:

· What happens to the suspension of the refugee program for 120 days?

· Will Syrian nationals still be barred indefinitely?

· Will the cap on the number of refugees change? The first version of the executive order caps it at 50,000 for fiscal year 2017.

Two sources also expect that the President will formally revoke the earlier executive order, despite repeated statements from White House press secretary Sean Spicer that the two orders would co-exist on a “dual track.”

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Kellyanne Conway photographed making herself comfortable on Oval Office couch, Twitter calls out Trump adviser for disrespect

NY DAILY NEWS

Kellyanne Conway has already made herself comfortable in the Trump administration.

The senior White House adviser was photographed kneeling on a couch in the Oval Office while the President met with leaders of historically black colleges and universities on Monday.

The set of photos showed Conway situating herself on the couch to take a photo of the group, but social media users took offense at her sitting on the furniture in heels.

“I will only be able to get mad at the way Kellyanne Conway sits on a couch if it turns out she’s hiding … Trump’s tax returns under her,” “Last Week Tonight” writer Josh Gondelman tweeted.

“Conway with her shoes on the couch in Oval Office — consistent with general level of disrespect Trump team has shown,” wrote Kaivan Shroff.

Some even compared Conway’s pose to a 2013 photo of President Obama with one foot on his desk while making a phone call.

The image caused controversy from those who accused the President of disrespect.

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Spicer searches staffers’ phones in leak crackdown

NY POST

Frustrated by leaks in the Trump administration, the White House cracked down on staffers last week, making them pile their phones on a table to prove they had nothing to hide, Politico reported Sunday, citing sources.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer assembled the group of communication staffers in his office in the West Wing, scolded them about details of private conversations appearing in media reports and made them surrender their phones and other electronic devices to be examined, the website reported.

Spicer sought advice from White House counsel Don McGhan before calling the meeting and carrying out the “phone checks.”

He warned that encrypted messaging apps — such as Confide and Signal — violated the Federal Records Act, sources in the White House meeting told Politico.

Before the meeting at Spicer’s office, staffers had to put their electronic devices on a table, Politico reported.

Spicer expressed his frustration with the media finding out about private meetings, and made clear he didn’t want the phone checks to be leaked to the press.

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George W. Bush opens up on Trump’s war with the media, travel ban, Russia and veterans

NBC TODAY

In his first in-depth interview since Donald Trump’s inauguration, former President George W. Bush gave his take on the current commander in chief’s first month in office, addressing Trump’s attack on the media, his controversial immigration policy, and the Russian hacking scandal.

Early on in the exclusive sit-down, the former president expressed a clear-eyed support for the news media, saying a free press was “indispensable to democracy.”

“We need an independent media to hold people like me to account,” Bush told TODAY’S Matt Lauer.

“Power can be very addictive and it can be corrosive, and it’s important for the media to call to account people who abuse their power.”

Bush was asked about the media’s role in light of President Donald Trump’s recent characterization of the media as the “enemy of the American people.” He noted he spent a lot of time during his two terms trying to convince Russian President Vladimir Putin to embrace an independent press.

“It’s kind of hard to tell others to have an independent free press when we’re not willing to have one ourselves,” he said.

Bush also addressed the controversy over Trump advisers and the role they may have played in the scandal involving Russian hackers who tried to intervene in the election, saying he would leave questions about whether a special prosecutor should investigate up to the Senate intelligence committee leaders.

“I think we all need answers,” he said, going to on praise North Carolina Senator Richard Burr, the head of the U.S. Senate intelligence committee. “I’m not sure the right avenue to take. I am sure, though, that that question needs to be answered.”

Bush, the last Republican to occupy the White House, also was asked about President Trump’s controversial executive order that banned immigrants from predominantly Muslim nations.

Asked pointedly if he favored or opposed the policy, Bush said, “I am for an immigration policy that is welcoming and upholds the law.”

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Fallen SEAL’s dad slams Trump

CNN

Bill Owens, the father of the Navy SEAL killed in a late-January raid in Yemen, leveled biting criticism at the White House and called for an investigation into his son’s death in a news story published Sunday.

Owens told The Miami Herald that as his son William “Ryan” Owens’ body made it to Dover Air Force Base outside Washington, he was told President Donald Trump was coming to meet him and his wife to pay his respects.
But Owens told the chaplain he didn’t want to see the commander-in-chief.

“I told them I didn’t want to make a scene about it, but my conscience wouldn’t let me talk to him,” Owens told the newspaper.

Owens, himself a veteran, raised a number of questions about the raid itself.

“Why at this time did there have to be this stupid mission when it wasn’t even barely a week into his administration,” the paper quoted him as asking.

Owen, the Herald reported, hadn’t voted for the President, and he took issue with how Trump treated the Gold Star family of Captain Humayun Khan after the slain soldier’s mother and father publicly rebuked the then-Republican presidential nominee at the Democratic National Convention in July.

The administration responded to CNN’s request for comment on the story by commending Owen’s son, the slain Navy SEAL, for his service and defending the raid.

“Chief Petty Officer Owens is an American hero who made the ultimate sacrifice in the service of his country,” White House spokesman Michael Short said in a statement. “The mission he participated in yielded valuable intelligence in the ongoing fight against radical Islamic terrorism. The United States is safer today thanks to his bravery and years of faithful service in uniform. We will be forever in his debt.”

The Yemen raid, which the White House has said was intended to gather intelligence, immediately came under scrutiny for resulting in the first combat death under Trump’s presidency. In addition to Owens’ death, several other service members were injured, and reports have said as many as two dozen civilians, or more, were killed, including an eight-year-old daughter of the deceased al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen who was killed in a drone strike in 2011.

The White House has insisted that the raid was a success. But some, including Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, have taken issue with the White House’s framing.

The former prisoner of war said in a statement, “I would not describe any operation that results in the loss of American life as a success.”

But the White House has bristled at any criticism, claiming such comments dishonor the life of Owens’ son, the Navy SEAL who died in the raid.

Owens took issue with the White House’s response, telling The Miami Herald, “Don’t hide behind my son’s death to prevent an investigation.”

“I want an investigation. … The government owes my son an investigation,” he said.

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White House blocks news organizations from press briefing

CNN

CNN and other news outlets were blocked Friday from an off-camera White House press briefing, raising alarm among media organizations and First Amendment watchdogs.

The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Politico and BuzzFeed were also excluded from the meeting, which is known as a gaggle and is less formal than the televised Q-and-A session in the White House briefing room. The gaggle was held by White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

In a brief statement defending the move, administration spokeswoman Sarah Sanders said the White House “had the pool there so everyone would be represented and get an update from us today.”

The pool usually includes a representative from one television network and one print outlet. In this case, four of the five major television networks — NBC, ABC, CBS and Fox News — were invited and attended the meeting, while only CNN was blocked.

And while The New York Times was kept out, conservative media organizations Breitbart News, The Washington Times and One America News Network were also allowed in.

Asked whether CNN and The New York Times were blocked because the administration was unhappy with their reporting, Spicer responded: “Because we had it as pool, and then we expanded it, and we added some folks to come cover it. It was my decision to expand the pool.”

Both CNN and the Times protested the decision.

“This is an unacceptable development by the Trump White House. Apparently this is how they retaliate when you report facts they don’t like. We’ll keep reporting regardless,” CNN said in a statement.

New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet wrote, “Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties. We strongly protest the exclusion of The New York Times and the other news organizations. Free media access to a transparent government is obviously of crucial national interest.”

The Associated Press and Time magazine boycotted the briefing because of how it was handled.

The White House Correspondents Association also protested the move.

“The WHCA board is protesting strongly against how today’s gaggle is being handled by the White House,” it said in a statement. “We encourage the organizations that were allowed in to share the material with others in the press corps who were not. The board will be discussing this further with White House staff.”

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White House dismisses CNN report on FBI as ‘indefensible’

THE HILL

President Trump’s top spokesman on Friday dismissed a news report alleging the FBI rejected a request by the White House to publicly knock down reports about communications between Trump associates and the Russians.

“What you guys have done is indefensible and inaccurate,” he told reporters.

Senior administration officials accused CNN, which broke the story, of mischaracterizing the White House’s request to the FBI — though they did not dispute that a communication took place between the FBI and White House officials.

CNN reported that White House chief of staff Reince Priebus reached out to FBI Director James Comey and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe asking them to talk to reporters on background to dispute the stories about communications between Trump associates and Russia, which ran in The New York Times and CNN.
Comey reportedly rejected the request because the alleged communications are the subject of an investigation.

The discussions between the FBI and the White House could run aground of longstanding rules restrictions of contact regarding pending investigations.

The administration officials, who spoke anonymously, said the discussions began with McCabe and Priebus chatting briefly after a meeting at the White House on Feb. 15.

McCabe told Priebus, “I want you to know story in [The New York Times] … is BS,” according to the official.

Priebus then asked McCabe, “What can we do about this?” But the FBI official later called Priebus back to say the FBI could not comment on the story.

“We’d love to help but we can’t get into the position of making statements on every story,” McCabe told Priebus, according to an official. Comey later reiterated that position to the chief of staff.

The top White House aide, who on Sunday decried news reporting based off anonymous sources, asked if he could cite McCabe and others as “senior intelligence officials.” The FBI official said yes.

White House press secretary Spicer denied that the communication represented any kind of inappropriate pressure.

If Priebus had just walked away, “how insane would that be?” Spicer asked. “What sane person would not want to set the record straight?”

The Trump team’s alleged ties to Russia have dogged his presidency during his first month in the White House, in which he has tried to push forward on issues like tax reform, immigration and trade.

Trump on Friday ripped the FBI as “totally unable” to stop leaks from within the agency, using Twitter to order top officials to “find now” sources within the government who are speaking to the press.

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Kellyanne Conway, back in a media spotlight she never really left

FOX NEWS

For a woman who has supposedly, allegedly and ostensibly been “sidelined,” Kellyanne Conway is suddenly about as high-profile as you can get.

In little more than 12 hours, she appeared on “Hannity” and “Fox & Friends,” gave a kickoff speech at CPAC and did a bunch more interviews at the conservative conference.

It says something about our modern media culture—and perhaps about backbiting among Trump advisers—that Conway’s absence from the airwaves for a single week could be construed as evidence of being in some imaginary doghouse. Kellyanne remains what she was during the campaign she managed, President Trump’s most visible and effective spokeswoman.

“It’s a ridiculous story,” said White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, referring to a CNN report citing unnamed sources as saying Conway had been yanked from the airwaves. “She has several media appearances this week and has been focused on prep for the upcoming joint session speech” to Congress. “Kellyanne is a key member of the president’s staff, which is another reason this story is so absurd.”

The White House counselor was equally dismissive with Sean Hannity, saying that “somebody’s trying to start up trouble” and that “folks are trying to use me as clickbait and a headline.” TV appearances, Conway noted, are only 5 percent of her job. She has actually been trying to reduce her TV workload.

Then she pointed out the real reason she slipped a bit off the public radar: “I’m out with four kids for three days looking at houses and schools. A lot of my colleagues aren’t trying to figure out how to be a mother of four kids, I assure you.”

In the blood sport of Washington, critics sometimes forget that political figures are real people with actual lives. Conway is in the process of arranging for her New Jersey-based family to join her here.

To be sure, Conway had a rough spell when she referred several times, most prominently on MSNBC, to a non-existent Bowling Green massacre. But she wasn’t trying to convince people of something that didn’t happen; she was referring to two Iraqi refugees in Bowling Green who were convicted of aiding Al Qaeda’s efforts to kill American soldiers. Conway, who told me that she “misspoke,” corrected the mistake as soon as it was called to her attention.

She also drew widespread criticism for urging people in a Fox interview to buy Ivanka Trump’s clothing line after it was dropped by Nordstrom. The White House said she had been “counseled” about the matter. Detractors seized on the two incidents to question her credibility.

The CNN report pointed to Conway having said on MSNBC on Feb. 13 that Michael Flynn had the “full confidence” of the president, who fired him as national security adviser late that night. But anyone who thinks that Conway was going rogue doesn’t understand how this White House works. She was offering the guidance she was given in a highly fluid situation in which Flynn had been hanging on during days of controversy. The next morning, Conway appeared on several morning shows to discuss the situation at Trump’s request.

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Bannon rips ‘corporatist, globalist media’

THE HILL

White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon chided the media throughout his Thursday appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), tagging reporters with his favorite nickname: the opposition party.

“If you look at the opposition party, how they portrayed the campaign, how they portrayed the transition, how they portray the administration, it’s always wrong,” Bannon said.

“If you remember, the campaign, by the media’s description, was the most chaotic, the most disorganized, most unprofessional, had no idea what they were doing. And then you saw [the media] all crying and weeping” on election night.

Bannon, the controversial former head of Breitbart News, has embraced his role as the media’s top antagonist. Speaking alongside White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, he framed the media as part of a global war against the president’s agenda after Priebus accused the media of taking potshots at Trump over the summer of 2016.
“The corporatist, globalist media is adamantly opposed to economic nationalist agenda like Donald Trump has,” he said.

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