On a day when the press became the story—that of an unhinged, panicky bully berating and eventually banning reporters for asking questions he didn’t like—Stephen Colbert was lucky enough to have booked a journalist who was on the ground for all the action. CBS White House correspondent Major Garrett was on The Late Show to promote his book about the 2016 presidential campaign Mr. Trump’s Wild Ride, but he was also the person who, that very day, had asked Trump whether Attorney General Jeff Sessions still had some of what the kids call “long-term job security.” As Garrett told Colbert, while he had sources that had told him that Sessions was on his way out, he had no way of knowing that Trump—who put off Garrett’s question at the press conference—had already fired his AG. Well, he had Chief of Staff John Kelly do it for him, because, as Colbert put it dismissively, “Oh, what a hero.”
Garrett was, of course, also front-and-center for the other big story of the day, as Trump went podium-to-microphone with CNN’s Jim Acosta, eventually ordering some poor young White House staffer to seize Acosta’s mic once the dogged Acosta kept pressing Trump on his racist fear-mongering about the supposed “caravan” of immigrants heading this way. Calling Trump’s presser—where he also mocked foreign reporters’ accents and ordered around other journalists like the busboys at Mar-a-Lago—“the most bombastic of my career,” Garrett praised NBC’s Peter Alexander for using his next-up mic time to stick up for Acosta.
Noting that such unity in the face of abuse from a subject is rare in the competitive world of White House journalism, Garrett claimed that, well, things are different in an environment which, as he put it, “is so hostile as to make us concerned about our own physical safety.” (Lest that sound like an exaggeration, two weeks after a Trump supporter sent pipe bombs to media outlets routinely vilified by Trump, an Arkansas Trump fan was arrested on Tuesday for calling in terrorist threats against CNN, where Acosta works.) “There’s a collective sense that the president is not playacting with his attacks on the media,” said Garrett, adding that, “collectively, the First Amendment is what unites all of us.”