A journalism professor is calling for a boycott on top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway because of her ability to deflect criticism of the administration.
New York University journalism professor Jay Rosen floated the idea of denying Conway access to television on a Recode podcast. Her ability to befuddle interviewers and parry questions and accusations from journalists frustrated Rosen, who served as department chair from 1999 to 2005.
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"This is somebody who can speak for the Trump administration. But if we find that what Kellyanne Conway says is routinely or easily contradicted by Donald Trump, then that [reason to have her on] disappears," he said. "It’s not just lying or spin or somebody who is skilled in the political arts of putting the best case on things or not answering a question, which is a pretty basic method of doing politics. It’s that when you are done listening to Kellyanne Conway, you probably understand less. That’s a problem."
Rosen's concern for spin appears to be new-founded. He was critical of President Barack Obama for allowing reporters to control the narrative during press conferences.
You're the President of the United States standing at the podium in the briefing room? You can steer the conversation any damn way you want.
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) July 20, 2013
He has also downplayed the notion that spin artists can have a direct impact on selling the president's agenda. When the New York Times revealed that the White House adviser Ben Rhodes had used social media to create an "echo chamber" of experts and supportive journalists to sell the Iran nuclear deal, Rosen did not appear too concerned.
The notion that disseminating the White House's view takes storytelling genius or social media wizardry is… odd. https://t.co/4qSLLYhJHT
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) May 7, 2016
— Jay Rosen (@jayrosen_nyu) May 7, 2016
Ignoring Conway is only one step in Rosen's plan to hold Trump accountable. On his blog, he suggested that networks and reporters "need not televise the spectacle live." The best way to ensure a media blackout would be to only send interns to cover Trump events.
"Take a bold decision to put your most junior people in the briefing room. Recognize that the real story is elsewhere, and most likely hidden. That’s why the experienced reporters need to be taken out of the White House, and put on other assignments," he wrote.
Rosen's hope that deploying interns to the briefing room will rid the event of newsworthy developments may be ill-founded. The Daily Caller sent 16-year-old intern Gabe Finger to the White House briefing in July 2013. Finger's tenacious reporting became the most talked about event of an otherwise typical briefing when he asked then-press secretary Jay Carney if the Obama administration was leaving George Zimmerman's family "on their own."
Many reporters and even some journalists-turned comedy writers said that interns would diminish the institution of White House coverage.
Some pretty good video from the White House Briefing today you HAVE to watch. An intern kinda gets put in his place by Carney. PO-99WE
— CNN Newsource (@CNNNewsource) July 17, 2013
If you have to give a stmt defending sending a high schooler to WH briefing, you've lost the argument http://t.co/xTUOwG11Tg
— Emily Pierce (@emilykpierce) July 17, 2013
— Brianna Ehley (@Briannaehley) July 17, 2013
— Eric Boehlert (@EricBoehlert) July 17, 2013
@AndrewStilesNRO I dont see how it's a stretch! Adults are typically tasked w/ asking questions of the WH press sec, not kids.
— Dan Amira (@DanAmira) July 17, 2013
Daily Caller founder and Fox News host Tucker Carlson defended Finger's reporting in a statement issued in the wake of the criticism.
"We don’t care how old Gabe Finger is. It doesn’t matter to us what his credentials are. All we care about is how well he does his job. Today he did it a lot better than most White House reporters," the statement said.
Daily Caller Editor-in-Chief Vince Coglianese was surprised by Rosen's suggestion, telling the Washington Free Beacon that he was under the impression that major media outlets had already followed their lead.
"I could've sworn the only reason everybody asks the same exact question was their youthful cliquishness," he said. "They should totally do it. We tried it a while back. It was a big league success, of course. But good luck finding another Gabe Finger."