Fake news is more stressful than you think. It can make you fat and crazy.
At least according to this sad Bloomberg piece about the plight of White House media stalkers just waiting for the opportunity to generate a viral video by shouting out a Trump question.
The White House journalists’ sense of well-being, never great, seems to be in decline. Several confess to me that they aren’t sleeping well, have put on weight, have mental health issues, etc.
This puts a whole new spin on their motives for going Weighter on Trump.
Maybe they do have a conscience after all. Or maybe it's the irrelevance of their jobs.
I’ve never actually felt like a proper journalist and am always surprised when I’m allowed to masquerade as one. Yet Bloomberg has handed me not only a badge to wear around my neck and a privileged seat in the second row of the press room but also, it will emerge, a serious question to ask Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The question is: “Do you agree with Secretary Mnuchin’s desire for a weak dollar?”
Just this morning, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin apparently said he thought a weak dollar was a good idea. The dollar is falling...
I take my seat half an hour early and silently practice asking my question several different ways. None of them sound like the questions you hear when you watch the press briefing on TV. At first I’m mainly worried I’m going to mispronounce Mnuchin. Then a thought occurs: How do I know that Mnuchin actually said what I’m claiming he said? And who cares if he did? He doesn’t control the money supply. He has no obvious power to do anything to the dollar, except to print however many of them the Federal Reserve thinks should exist...
This question of mine is not a good question. Even I don’t want to hear what the answer is.
And the media is, deep inside, aware of the falsity and irrelevance of its own antics. They're not acts of public service, but partisan theater.
And put a foot even slightly wrong in the White House press pool and the president of the United States might very well identify you as an enemy of the republic. Consider Zeke Miller, the excellent 20-something correspondent for the Associated Press. At the start of the Trump administration, then employed by Time magazine, he’d been let into the Oval Office and noticed the bust of Martin Luther King wasn’t where it had been when Obama was in office. Miller dashed off a report saying that the bust had been removed -- then learned, 20 minutes later, that the bust had simply been moved, to a spot behind the open door where he couldn’t see it. He apologized instantly and profusely for his mistake, and corrected it. Nevertheless, Trump, standing in front of a memorial for those who had died serving in the CIA, blasted him by name as an example of journalistic mendacity. Sean Spicer, then the press secretary, accepted Miller’s abject apology and then marched out to the lectern and humiliated him all over again.
Maybe he should have actually checked, before putting out a report trying to paint the President of the United States as a racist?
But it's all about the ambiance.
The White House press briefing room sounds like an exciting place to visit, but the minute you are in it you sort of wish you weren’t. It has the cramped uncared-for feel of a public toilet, or a cable television green room.
They were offered better digs in the Eisenhower Office Building and turned them down, as I wrote last year.
Last week the media lost its mind over reports that press briefings might be moved from the White House back to the Eisenhower Office Building next door where President Eisenhower held the first ever televised press conference.
Media outlets issued panicked reports of being “evicted,” “kicked out” or “exiled” from the cramped theater that used to be the White House’s indoor swimming pool. There was outrage at the thought that they might have to take an equally short walk to the White House Conference Center where they had already worked while the Bush White House spent millions in taxpayer money renovating the room.
"The press went crazy, so I said, 'Let's not move it.'" President Trump finally reassured them.
He got as much gratitude for it as President Nixon did for ruining a perfectly good indoor pool and as President Bush did for spending a fortune renovating it. Instead the media began spreading the same conspiracy theories accusing Bush of plotting to permanently banish them from the White House.
Come to think of it, maybe their mental health was never that great.