President Trump already has a less than friendly and less than forthright relationship with the press. It’s the job of the press pool to document all of the president’s activities every day, no matter who the president happens to be. Trump has shown great dislike of this press accompaniment, especially when he is on the golf course, and the Trump administration has gone so far as not announcing Trump is golfing when he is, or even in one case putting a van in place to block news photographer’s shots of Trump golfing. This weekend, while scandals brewed about Trump’s racist approach to immigration and his alleged $130,000 hush money payoff to a porn star, while Hawaiians faced the absolute terror of a 38 minute window where they thought a ballistic missile was incoming to their state, President Trump was again golfing and avoiding press interaction.
It looked today, however, as if the press would actually be allowed to interact with President Trump, as the press pool was first given time for lunch and then told to come back out to Mar-a-Lago for a press opportunity with Trump. Then the pool was just as quickly turned around again without seeing Trump. It turns out that the reason why they were first directed back to Mar-a-Lago was that Trump had rounded up some supporters that he thought would make a good photo op, i.e. propaganda, but then Trump’s people apparently realized that the press would not just stand silently and take pictures, but instead might ask some pretty difficult questions.
According to Share Blue Media:
White House reporters were kept away from Trump all weekend. But after declaring a “lunch lid” following his trip back from the golf course Sunday, meaning that Trump would not be traveling again, White House reporters were abruptly mobilized for a trip back to Mar-a-Lago.
Before continuing with today’s story of the ridiculous, let’s pause for a moment to define ‘lunch lid’, in case you are unfamiliar with it. According to Quora, the term ‘lunch lid’ refers to the White House declaring they will not be announcing anything for the next hour so that reporters can eat lunch:
When the Press Secretary signals to the White House press that there is no more news that the White House will be announcing, that’s called the ‘lid.’ A “full lid” means no more for the rest of the day. In other words, the reporters can go home. There are other lids – like a ‘lunch lid’ which actually means the reporters have an hour and the White House promises not to announce anything so they can each lunch.
Continuing with our story, after reporters were “abruptly mobilized for a trip back to Mar-a-Lago”, their trip was suddenly cancelled, according to press pool reports emailed from the White House, as reported by Share Blue Media:
Date: January 14, 2018 at 2:56:47 PM EST
Subject: Print Travel Pool #8 (plan change)
The wranglers cancelled a planned return to Mar-a-Lago. After brief drive around West Palm Beach, pool vans returned to hotel.
Lid remains in effect.
Fuller explication from White House coming shortly.
An hour passed before the press pool got an explanation as to the turn around. As Share Blue Media reported, Trump had invited some of his supporters who were standing along the motorcade route between the golf course and Mar-a-Lago to come to Mar-a-Lago in order to thank them:
Date: January 14, 2018 at 3:57:38 PM EST
Subject: Print Travel Pool #9 (explanation)
The White House provided the following explanation for the confusion about the pool’s destination following the president’s return to Mar-a-Lago from Trump International Golf Course:
There was a miscommunication in where the pool was supposed be; the President invited bystanders from the motorcade route to Mar-a-Lago to thank them for their continued support. Someone thought it was supposed to be a pool event, but it was meant to be a quick private thank you.
Note that the message includes “someone thought it was supposed to be a (press) pool event, but it was meant to be a quick private thank you.” Indeed, having Trump’s sycophants and the press together in one place may not have gone too well, as the press was likely to ask questions of Trump that would have made him uncomfortable, about his racist comments, his alleged hush money payoff of a porn star, why he just kept playing golf when he found out about yesterday’s terrifying false alarm about an incoming ballistic missile in Hawaii, to name just a few subjects.
The more President Trump avoids the press and avoids the truth, while labeling any news source that criticizes him as “Fake News”, the more of those difficult questions the press has stockpiled for him. The White House may have initially pulled the press back to Mar-a-Lago thinking a propaganda opportunity was at hand with Trump ringed by supporters, but then realized that the press would probably turn that around pretty quickly, and so they turned the press around pretty quickly. And instead of being forthcoming, President Trump just got whisked away by limousine again, continuing to avoid the press.