It shouldn’t be such a radical statement.
“I don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people,” Kellyanne Conway asserted near the end of an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday morning. By making that statement, Conway aligned herself with fellow White House adviser Ivanka Trump and against both her boss President Donald Trump and his press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
After a long discussion about the administration’s mixed messages about the Russia investigation, host Margaret Brennan turned to an early morning tweet from the president in which he wrote, “The Fake News hates me saying that they are the Enemy of the People only because they know it’s TRUE. I am providing a great service by explaining this to the American People. They purposely cause great division & distrust. They can also cause War! They are very dangerous & sick!”
“What wars have journalists started?” Brennan asked.
Conway could not answer that question and instead stressed that when Trump makes statements like those he’s not actually painting with a “broad brush,” but instead criticizing “some reporters” who “aren't always telling the truth and who are giving emotion over information, who are talking more about their own egos than doing every man interviews.” She even tried to deflect the issue by bringing up old “racist tweets” by a recently hired New York Times opinion columnist.
“Can't you understand the difference though, when the president escalates that there is actually at times, physical danger potentially?” Brennan asked. “That there is a risk here that the president may want to change that rhetoric?” As Conway continued to rail against the media, Brennan squeezed in one more question: “And you don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people?”
“I don't believe journalists are the enemy of the people,” Conway said, finally. She then added, “I think some journalists are enemy of the relevant, and enemy of the news you can use. And I think that most of the sins are sins of omission not commission.” She went on to complain about a lack of coverage of stories that she believes would reflect more positively on the president.
And yet by admitting that simple fact, Conway went much further than Sanders was willing to go during last Thursday’s press briefing when CNN’s Jim Acosta implored her to simply say the media is not the “enemy of the people.”
After a contentious back and forth during which Acosta explained to her why such rhetoric is dangerous and Sanders talked about how comedian Michelle Wolf “attacked” her with jokes more than three months earlier, the press secretary finally told him, “I appreciate your passion, I share it. I addressed this question, I addressed my personal feelings. I'm here to speak on behalf of the president. He's made his comments clear.”
Conway was on Face the Nation Sunday, also to “speak on behalf of the president.” But she had no problem confirming that she does not share that specific belief about the media.