Three former White House press secretaries, covering both sides of the political spectrum, told Chuck Todd on NBC's "Meet the Press" that they expect the incoming Trump administration's relationship with the media to be unprecedented.
While previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican used "extreme spin" in some cases, they all "operated on the same basic fact set [and would] have a great argument about who was right and who was wrong," said Joe Lockhart, who was President Bill Clinton's press secretary.
But he said the Trump team creates "their own facts. It's somewhat Orwellian, which, you know, you redefine the past, which means you can define the present and the future."
Nicolle Wallace, who was communications director for President George W. Bush, also called the situation unprecedented and said Trump doesn't need the press, but wants it "like an addict craves their drugs."
"I think we're staring at trees and missing the forest," Wallace said. "We've just elected a man who bullies female reporters at his rally as an applause line. We have just elected a man who started a hot war with a female anchor instead of attending a debate she moderated. We are in a new place. And I don't think it's good. And I don't think it has any parallels to the past."
Ari Fleischer, who was press secretary for Bush, said Trump gets away with mocking the media, because "as the Gallup poll recently indicated, confidence in the press to report the news accurately and fairly has never been lower. And so the press has made itself vulnerable, because it lost the trust of their readers and their viewers — and Trump has widely taken advantage of it."
The three also agreed that it would be difficult for Trump to delegate the job of getting the administration's message across to the public to someone else, with Wallace saying that "the idea that he's going to be able to tolerate watching someone at a podium delivering news that he thinks he can do better from whatever he tweets from is an assumption I'm not comfortable making."
Lockhart added that Trump "doesn't like to share his views with his inner circle, try it there, and maybe go out -- he wants to share it with the world first. Everything's a trial balloon. Nothing is real. There's nothing that he tweets that's written in stone, because everything he does is to get a reaction and to judge."
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