Though last night’s Daily Show glitch had folks worrying that the new administration was throwing wrenches into our infotainment works, it turned out to be just a technical issue. But the news that the White House is effectively ending an ongoing dialogue with CNN is real, and pretty disturbing. A White House spokesperson tells Politico that, going forward, their colleagues—including Press Secretary Sean Spicer and senior counselor Kellyanne Conway—won’t be finding their way to the cable news show very much. “We’re sending surrogates to places where we think it makes sense to promote our agenda,” the White House official said while acknowledging that CNN isn’t one of those places.
We’ve already seen a decline in Trump spokespeople appearances on CNN’s programs; the last such gathering was on Jake Tapper’s State Of The Union, when Conway steered clear of giving lucid statements on the Russian attacks on U.S. intelligence. Politico notes that, so far, the dearth of White House officials on CNN hasn’t affected the ratings bigly. Quite the opposite, really—State Of The Union’s numbers have increased in the weeks since the last Trump surrogate dropped by.
But this doesn’t mean that the network isn’t concerned about getting the cold shoulder from the executive office; a CNN reporter tells Politico that they believe the move is designed to “cull CNN from the herd.” That’s not hard to believe, given just how contentious the relationship between the President and the press has become. While Spicer denied that turning off the tap was a retaliatory move, he did tell Politico that he’s not “going to sit around and engage with people who have no desire to actually get something right.” Politico’s source notes that the CNN ban isn’t permanent, and the publication did speak to a former official in Barack Obama’s office. That individual did say that while the 44th president’s administration did sometimes avoid sending spokespeople to chat with Fox News, there was no official ban on the network.
UPDATE: Well, that was brief. The White House already caved, which we’ve addressed in a separate newswire.