Washington to the Trump People: “Get Out of Town. This Is Our City and We Don’t Want You Here”

washingtonpost.com has posted a timely piece headlined “Trump advisers face taunts from hecklers around D.C.” The start of the story, by Paul Schwartzman and Josh Dawsey:

Just after arriving in Washington to work for President Trump, Kellyanne Conway found herself in a downtown supermarket, where a man rushing by with his shopping cart sneered, “You ought to be ashamed of yourself! Go look in the mirror!”

“Mirrors are in aisle 9 — I’ll go get one now,” Conway recalled replying. She brushed off the dart with the swagger of someone raised in the ever-attitudinal trenches of South Jersey.“What am I gonna do? Fall apart in the canned vegetable aisle?”

For any new presidential team, the challenges of adapting to Washington include navigating a capital with its own unceasing rhythms and high-pitched atmospherics, not to mention a maze of madness-inducing traffic circles.

Yet for employees of Donald J. Trump — the most singularly combative president of the modern era, a man who exists in his own tweet-driven ecosystem — the challenges are magnified exponentially, particularly in a predominantly Democratic city where he won only 4 percent of the vote.

The story goes on to point out that “Get out of my town” incidents are increasing, with a teacher at Sidwell Friends, the private school attended by the Obama children, confronting then-EPA head Scott Pruitt in a DC restaurant and telling him to leave town.

Here’s an About Editing and Writing post from the week President Trump was inaugurated that captured some of the media’s somewhat unhinged reaction to Trump’s arrival. Unhinged because I think the media heavyweights, centered in DC and New York City, had all along assumed Trump had no chance to defeat Hillary Clinton and they couldn’t believe the American people in 32 states had been that dumb.

When I talked with my Wisconsin nieces about why Donald Trump won the state, the first impression was that they disliked Hillary Clinton more than Trump. It seemed it wasn’t so much that they hated Hillary personally; more they were tired of the Clintons and all their money and talk. Trump was new and wasn’t part of the Washington crowd.

And they didn’t care what the media said about how terrible Trump was; they think of the media as mostly a bunch of talkers. And they probably wouldn’t disagree with what Steve Bannon said to the New York Times:“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while.”

How did the media react? Google “Bannon media shut up” and you get:

Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’ — New York Times

Steve Bannon: Media should “keep its mouth shut” — CNN

Bannon: Media should “keep its mouth shut” —The Hill

Google “Bannon media listen more” and you get:

Trump Strategist Stephen Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’ — New York Times

Bannon Tells Press to ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’ — New York Magazine

Trump Strategist Steve Bannon Says Media Should ‘Keep its Mouth Shut’ – CNBC

Jim Warren’s reaction to Bannon in his Poynter media column: “Keep our mouths shut? Fat chance, say media leaders.”

You have to Google a long time before you find any of the mainstream press talking about listening more.
How did we get here? Here’s a note I sent some journalist pals earlier this week:

I drifted into journalism in 1960 because it didn’t seem as boring as most jobs. You never knew what the day would bring. I didn’t get much sense that other journalists wanted to change the world; we just reported on the people trying to change the world.

Covering the civil right revolution brought more sense of journalism as a way to right wrongs, change the world. The heroes of journalism helped bring down segregation and lessen discrimination.

Watergate made heroes out of Woodward and Bernstein. More young journalists wanted to be like them: Make someone resign, become rich and famous.

Henry Fairlie wrote a Washingtonian piece in 1984 about how journalists were getting rich. Get on television talk shows, get big checks by making speeches. Journalists increasingly could make big money and do just enough reporting to get by. One very good writer in the early 1980s told me he wasn’t going to spend two weeks on a story for $2,000 when he could make that much giving a 60-minute speech. And he didn’t have to write a new speech each time.

Oz Elliott, the former Newsweek editor, then teaching at the Columbia J School, told me that he wasn’t happy that journalists had discovered that selling attitude was a lot easier than reporting.

Then the Internet: To be seen as successful you had to build your brand. Journalists were judged by how many followers on Twitter. That encouraged journalists to be more public, more clever, more opinionated.

There’s a lot now written about how distrust of the media has grown. Is that because journalists talk too much, are too full of themselves, and are no longer seen as just reporting the news as we did in the old days?

Steve Bannon said, to mostly deaf ears, journalists should listen more. Some of us think there’s something to be said for that.

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