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President Donald Trump’s supporters have learned a lot about the political process and the media within the past year.

Last year at this time, they learned the difference between primaries and caucuses and how each works.

Those who were in the dark about the Electoral College found out more about it after the election last November.

So much news — real and fake — about Trump is posted every day on websites great and small that it is difficult to keep up.

As Trump supporters are dropping Big Media sites as their main source of news, they have been increasingly turning to — of all things — White House press briefings.

Who has ever watched White House press briefings? No one. They were something for media insiders, not the average American. They were dull and sycophantic.

Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, and the media have changed all that. Since the inauguration, these briefings and ‘gaggles’ (the latter by invitation only) have become must-see or must-read events.

Who knew White House press briefings could be so popular?

On Tuesday, April 18, 2017 — still within Trump’s first 100 days as president — the Washington Examiner reported that Sean Spicer is one of the best known people in his administration. And it’s all thanks to his press briefings.

Excerpts from WashEx‘s article, ‘Huge: Spicer briefings draw 4.2 million viewers‘ follow, emphases mine:

There’s a reason why TMZ’s Harvey Levin recently called White House spokesman Sean Spicer one of the “most visible” people in all of Washington.

Because next to President Trump and his globe-trotting vice president, Mike Pence, Spicer’s afternoon briefings continue to be Must See Cable TV for millions of political junkies and the midday click for hundreds of thousands on Yahoo.

The ratings are stellar:

A Nielsen survey for Secrets of two weeks of ratings from CNN, MSNBC and Fox News put Spicer’s average daily viewership at 3.64 million, higher on newsy days to 4.5 million viewers.

And Yahoo told us that Spicer’s online audience sometimes averages 600,000 a day, and at least 3 million a week.

We’d definitely consider these good, and certainly fair to say the briefings have found an audience on Yahoo,” said a spokeswoman.

In addition to Spicer, Trump’s counsellor (in an advisory sense) Kellyanne Conway is also well known to the public. TMZ’s Levin says:

To me, outside of Trump and maybe, maybe Pence, the two most visible people in D.C I think it’s her and Sean Spicer. I’m saying more than anybody in Congress right now.

Unlike in previous administrations, Big Media reporters who pole up to the White House are universally opposed to Trump. Spicer, an active US Navy reservist, has a struggle on his hands every day. He rarely falters in attempting to set the record straight, day after day.

The place is standing room only every time, which also adds to the interest.

Combined, these elements make Spicer’s press briefings compelling viewing:

Conflict makes for great television,” said Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center. “It’s no secret that the liberal media despise President Trump. His spokesman Sean Spicer is pushing back — hard. The media have never been slapped around like this. It doesn’t matter which side you’re on, it is most entertaining,” he added.

A new feature of the briefings is that Spicer occasionally takes Skype questions from local television network news affiliates and alternative media commentators from a screen near his podium. Big Media baulked when he began opening up the floor, but the reporters and pundits on Skype ask much more informed questions than the big boys and girls do.

The press briefings are an important means of communication to all Americans, but especially to Trump supporters:

Fellow Republican spox Ron Bonjean, who handled White House communications for the effort to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, said having a big TV and internet audience helps Trump keep his message directly in front of Americans.

“The reason why the press secretary holds televised briefings is to communicate directly with the American people. This means that when millions of voters are watching Sean Spicer’s press briefing, it can only help him directly deliver what President Trump’s priorities are on a daily basis,” said Bonjean.

“Basically it keeps a constant connection for Donald Trump to use the live news coverage to people that have supported him across the country,” added Bonjean, the chief communicator for a former House speaker, former Senate majority leader and former Commerce Department secretary.

Videos of each press briefing can be found on the White House Featured Videos page.

After viewing a few of these, some prefer reading the transcripts, which will save time — and frustration with reporters who come in with the same doggone questions every day. Transcripts are on the White House What’s Happening page.

Videos can also be found on YouTube via The White House channel under Press Conferences.

Here is the corresponding transcript.

As my post on the Easter Egg Roll mentioned, Spicer is no stranger to the White House. He worked as a staffer in the George W Bush administration, when he also played the role of an Easter bunny for the Egg Roll.

On December 22, 2016, Fox News reported:

President-elect Donald Trump announced Thursday that Spicer will get the coveted job of White House press secretary, as he announced the senior members of his communications team.

This also includes: Hope Hicks as director of strategic communications; Jason Miller as director of communications; and Dan Scavino as director of social media.

“Sean, Hope, Jason and Dan have been key members of my team during the campaign and transition. I am excited they will be leading the team that will communicate my agenda that will Make America Great Again,” Trump said in a statement.

Spicer was thought to have the inside track for the job, in part because of his ties to incoming White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, who currently runs the Republican National Committee.

Spicer worked alongside Priebus throughout the 2016 campaign as chief strategist and communications director at the RNC

A commissioned officer in the Navy Reserves, Spicer previously served as Assistant United States Trade Representative (USTR) for Media and Public Affairs under the George W. Bush administration, and worked for the House Republican Conference before that

Here is a photo of him on duty in uniform taken last week with a reporter from Today, NBC’s breakfast show (photo courtesy of The_Donald):

 

On April 14, 2017, Fox News reported that Spicer has longstanding ties to both the Navy and media work:

Spicer reported to fulfill his duty at the Joint Chiefs of Staff offices, a White House official told Fox News. The well-known spokesman holds the rank of commander — which sits just under the higher rank of captain in the Navy.

Spicer, who joined the Navy Reserve nearly 20 years ago while maintaining his primary work as a Republican media operative and strategist, also possesses a master’s degree in national security and strategic studies from the Naval War College.

As a media operative and strategist, Spicer was part of joint naval exercises overseas in Guam, Germany and Sweden. He also oversaw media coverage of the US Navy’s operations at McMurdo Station in Antarctica.

Spicer’s wife, Rebecca Miller, also has a career in media and communications. When the two were married in 2004 at St Alban’s Episcopal Church in Washington, DC, she was a television producer. Miller is now senior vice president, communications and public affairs, for the National Beer Wholesalers Association. The Spicers have two children.

I have written previously about alternative media’s Mike Cernovich with regard to his recent 60 Minutes interview and its full transcript.

On Sunday, April 2, 2017, Cernovich tweeted:

On Monday, he reported more about his first mainstream news scoop, excerpted below (emphases mine):

Susan Rice, who served as the National Security Adviser under President Obama, has been identified as the official who requested unmasking of incoming Trump officials, Cernovich Media can exclusively report.

The White House Counsel’s office identified Rice as the person responsible for the unmasking after examining Rice’s document log requests. The reports Rice requested to see are kept under tightly-controlled conditions. Each person must log her name before being granted access to them.

Upon learning of Rice’s actions, H. R. McMaster dispatched his close aide Derek Harvey to Capitol Hill to brief Chairman Nunes.

“Unmasking” is the process of identifying individuals whose communications were caught in the dragnet of intelligence gathering. While conducting investigations into terrorism and other related crimes, intelligence analysts incidentally capture conversations about parties not subject to the search warrant. The identities of individuals who are not under investigation are kept confidential, for legal and moral reasons.

James Rosen, a former Bill Clinton adviser who now works for Fox News, says that this is a huge story which could explain why General Mike Flynn had to resign earlier this year. The tweet below says Fox News acknowledged that Cernovich broke the story. I did not see that in the clip, but am posting it anyway so that you can read what Rosen says:

The Daily Caller explained Big Media’s reaction to Cernovich’s scoop and how they reported it:

Mike Cernovich, a journalist who has promoted conspiracy theories and was deemed “fake news” by “60 Minutes,” was the first to break the news that Obama’s former national security advisor Susan Rice made requests to unmask the identities of Trump associates.

Cernovich said in his report Sunday that New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman knew about the Rice requests, and “has chosen to sit on it in an effort to protect the reputation of former President Barack Obama.” A New York Times spokeswoman told The Daily Caller, “Cernovich’s claim regarding Maggie Haberman is 100 percent false.”

Bloomberg’s Eli Lake confirmed Cernovich’s report Monday, but did not include any details about Haberman sitting on the story. Cernovich told TheDC in an interview that Lake also sat on the story over the weekend. Lake tweeted Tuesday, “Reports that I sat on the Susan Rice story are false.”

The Bloomberg story didn’t give Cernovich any credit for his scoop and he said he wasn’t upset as he has more influence than Bloomberg.

Cernovich revealed how he got the story:

Zero Hedge provides a partial transcript of the video (emphases in the original):

I’m showing you the politics of ‘real journalism’.  ‘Real journalism’ is that Bloomberg had it and the New York Times had it but they wouldn’t run it because  they don’t want to run any stories that would make Obama look bad or that will vindicate Trump.  They only want to run stories that make Trump look bad so that’s why they sat on it.

So where did I get the story?  I didn’t get it from the intelligence community.  Everybody’s trying to figure out where I got it from.  I got it from somebody who works in one of those media companies.  I have spies in every media organization.  I got people in news rooms.  I got it from a source within the news room who said ‘Cernovich, they’re sitting on this story, they’re not going to run it, so you can run it’.

If you’re at Bloomberg, I have people in there.  If you’re at the New York Times, I have people in there.  LA Times, Washington Post, you name it, I have my people in there.  I got IT people in every major news room in this country.  The IT people see every email so that’s how I knew it.

On Wednesday, April 5, Cernovich wrote about what happened next:

– Rice said she unmasked but it was legal.

– Fake news does not call Rice a liar for saying she never unmasked anyone, instead….

– Fake news attacks Cernovich’s character.

– Fake news claims Trump said he was “illegally” spied on (not what he said).

Susan Rice

Since Cernovich’s story broke, Susan Rice has given several television interviews this week to friendly outlets, such as MSNBC and PBS.

Rice’s husband, Ian Cameron, was a senior producer of successful news programmes for ABC. Although he is no longer working for them, preferring to spend time with his family, Heavy contacted the network to find out why they were not giving the Rice story much coverage:

Heavy has reached out to ABC News’ PR staff to see whether Cameron still has any link to ABC News, as his LinkedIn profile and past articles say he left the network several years ago. This story will be updated if a response is received.

Fox News is the only channel doing any critical coverage of the story. On April 5, they reported  (emphases mine):

The intelligence reports at the center of the Susan Rice unmasking controversy were detailed, and almost resembled a private investigator’s file, according to a Republican congressman familiar with the documents.

“This is information about their everyday lives,” Rep. Peter King of New York, a member of the House Intelligence committee said. “Sort of like in a divorce case where lawyers are hired, investigators are hired just to find out what the other person is doing from morning until night and then you try to piece it together later on.”

On the House Intelligence Committee, only the Republican chairman, Devin Nunes of California, and the ranking Democrat Adam Schiff, also of California, have personally reviewed the intelligence reports. Some members were given broad outlines.

Nunes has consistently stated that the files caused him deep concern because the unmasking went beyond the former national security adviser Mike Flynn, and the information was not related to Moscow.

Alternative media have been digging deeply. Circa, which has excellent reports on intelligence, posted an article about the Rice controversy on Monday, April 3, the same day that Cernovich’s scoop appeared. Circa analysed what might have occurred with Rice, intelligence information and others in the Obama White House. A brief excerpt follows:

How the information was disseminated beyond Rice will also be a potential focus of congressional oversight, since lawmakers may want to know if it was briefed to Obama or shared with members of her larger circle of advisers, like deputy Ben Rhodes.

Rice has not returned repeated calls for comment from Circa. But in an interview with PBS recently, she said she had no idea what House Intelligence Committee chairman Devin Nunes was talking about when he said Obama officials were monitoring Trump associates after the election.

One intelligence professional with detailed knowledge of how the NSA and other intelligence agencies share information with the White House during transitions told Circa that U.S. intelligence reporting on foreign leaders’ perceptions of Trump spiked after his unexpected election win in November, creating a trove of information that could be accessed by the outgoing White House.

More will surely follow in the days and weeks ahead.

Steve Bannon

In closing, I would like to clarify what happened with Steve Bannon, one of President Trump’s closest advisers.

On Wednesday, April 5, The Drudge Report had headlines from Big Media outlets saying that said Bannon had lost his security clearance and was threatening to quit. Cernovich explains why these reports are false: look at who wrote them.

That day, The Conservative Treehouse reported that what really happened. Excerpts follow, emphases mine.

First, Steve Bannon continues to attend National Security Council (NSC) meetings:

The hilarity cemented itself when competing media outlets were arguing about Steve Bannon being on the NSC, or being kicked-off the NSC, while Bannon walked past them en route to today’s NSC meeting.  Wait, wha… huh?   Yeah -{Insert Laugh Track HERE}-

Nothing ever happens in a vacuum, and today is no exception.   No, Steve Bannon is not being removed from the Senior advisory role to President Trump and will attend NSC meetings with the President.  Bannon’s security clearance therein remains unchanged.

Secondly, Lt General McMaster is realigning the NSC meetings to emphasise security threats over politics, a holdover from the Obama administration — a big part of the Susan Rice revelations. This is where the Big Media story about Bannon is coming from because:

Bannon is removing himself from the Principal’s Committee of the H.R. McMaster NSC (*note* he never attended the committee meetings, well, that is, he did, once), now that the political weaponization of NSC intelligence operations has been removed; and McMaster has recalibrated the incoming intelligence agencies to remove the political intelligence they were previously used to sending.

This is what McMaster is doing:

HR McMaster, the current National Security Adviser of President Trump, had to reset and re-instruct each of the heads of the intelligence agencies who provide intelligence to the NSC to remove the political intelligence.

McMaster needed to visit with each agency, CIA, NSA, State Department and Defense, to reorient them on what national intelligence the Trump administration wishes to receive within the National Security Council.

President Trump doesn’t want the national intelligence agencies sending him updates on what Senator Schumer had for lunch, where and who he dined with.  Instead President Trump prefers the intelligence agencies focus on global security issues that are actually vital to the national security interests of the country.

H.R McMaster’s instructions toward he intelligence agencies has just freed up thousands of hours of operational intelligence (spying and analysis) to focus on real threats unrelated to domestic politics.  Subsequently with the new direction established, Steve Bannon doesn’t need to be a pre-filter for NSC raw intel any longer. Bannon can now be a consumer of that intelligence, just like President Trump.

Stories on security topics and alternative media will continue after Holy Week and Easter. This year, Palm Sunday falls on April 9.

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