The Sentinel’s first “get” of the new presidential administration occurred Tuesday night around 7 p.m. outside of the West Wing of the White House.
While the expanded press pool waited inside the press room to be led over to the East Wing where the president and members of the Senate and House were scheduled to announce a Supreme Court nominee, a group of people gathered at the gate near the West Wing.
They looked to be guests. They were very well dressed and festive and they appeared to be friends and family of whoever the nominee was.
Taking a chance I walked toward the group and decided to shout out a name and see if I could get a reaction. I had a choice of two. I chose to shout “Gorsuch.” I had a 50-50 chance. Some guy whistled and pumped his fist. A good hour before the announcement and anyone who checked my social media had a good idea who the next Supreme Court nominee was.
Peter Barnes, a senior correspondent for Fox Business news was the only other reporter around and he announced what transpired – live – on television so his viewers knew about five minutes before the announcement made by President Trump. In the world of news these things are huge. Getting your facts first and correct can make a difference. Which brings me to the purpose of adding the White House to the list of subjects we’ll cover in this column going forward – facts.
While this column is an opinion piece, the federal government has become such a flashpoint of concern there is no way we can – in this day and age – ignore the profound impact it has on the two million people in Prince George’s and Montgomery County. There is a cloud of doubt and an air of stench permeating the White House, the House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate.
Cutting through the cloud and removing the stench will be part of our efforts going forward.
While we watch the new president cut CNN out of the mix, chastise the New York Times and lash out at the media in general, we will also watch erroneous reports by young television reporters and point out when those reporters tell us what they think instead of what they know.
Anyone who works here knows we do not care what our reporters think. I barely care what I think. But we do care about what you know.
Get the facts.
While I cannot promise in an opinion column that my own opinion won’t show up, I will do my best to let you know the difference between my opinion and what I know to be facts. For example, in Tuesday’s White House press briefing, presidential adviser Boris Epshteyn sat eagerly watching Sean Spicer mix it up with reporters.
At some point in time a press wrangler emerged from the bowels of the White House and passed Boris what appeared to be legal-size note paper with something written on it in bright red marker. Standing just six feet away I could easily read the message before several other assistants urged Boris to cover the notes.
I can report factually what the notes said because I read them. I won’t because Spicer effectively covered the points from the podium as he argued with reporters. While many people later told me those notes “probably” came from President Trump it is merely my opinion or someone else’s opinion as to the source of the notes. I did not see who wrote the notes and cannot follow the chain of evidence to report factually.
Facts are facts. Opinions are opinions. Which takes us to another point: In regard to the events which occurred over the weekend, Spicer took a great deal of time denouncing the use of the word “ban” to describe the executive order put in place regarding international travel.
It is a fact the president used that very word in a tweet I and others saw.
It is true, in my opinion, there is a great deal of arrogance, self importance and confidence coming from the White House. Some news releases read like campaign material.
For me it was enough to say you fired the acting attorney general. Calling it a “betrayal” and because she was “weak” was an opinion I could do without.
Josh Earnest, President Obama’s spokesman, in retrospect seemed like a calm undertaker quietly herding the media in the direction of his choosing - like a young Mr. Burns from the Simpsons with the same smile.
Sean Spicer seems like the guy in the circus poking the bear – similar to Kevin James in any of his movies. After you get done fighting with him you wouldn’t mind having a drink as you tell each other how full of it you are. I’m not so sure at the end of the day it will be in anyone’s best interest – except the bartender. And that’s an opinion – not that I’d turn down the drink if it were bourbon. And that’s a fact.