Commentary: Did the White House just pull (another) fast one on reporters?

Commentary: Did the White House just pull (another) fast one on reporters?
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer speaks during the daily press briefing in the Brady Press Briefing Room at the White House in Washington, DC, February 21, 2017. / (Image source: AFP/Saul Loeb/Getty Images)

The White House flatly denied reports Wednesday that Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump, was being “sidelined” from appearing on television interviews after several recent incidents in which she misstated facts.

“Kellyanne Conway sidelined from TV after Flynn debacle,” a headline read, referring to an interview Conway gave last week in which she said that Trump’s then-national security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn had the president’s “full confidence” even after misleading Vice President Mike Pence on contacts he had with Russian officials during the campaign.

Hours later, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters that Trump was “evaluating the situation” regarding Flynn. By the end of the day, Flynn had resigned from his senior-level post after less than a month on the job.

This was just the latest media spectacle involving Conway, though.

Conway first raised eyebrows just days after Trump took office when she coined the now famous phrase “alternative facts” during an interview with NBC’s Chuck Todd. Then, in early February, Conway went on Fox News and gave a “free commercial” for Ivanka Trump’s product line, encouraging viewers to “go buy Ivanka’s stuff.” Conway reportedly apologized to the president for the incident after even some Republicans said Conway crossed an ethical line, and potentially even broke the law.

CNN noted Wednesday that after all of these distractions, Conway had not appeared for a television interview since early last week. But the cable news channel went a step further, citing an anonymous White House source who said Conway was “sidelined” from giving further TV appearances after her “statements that were at odds with the administration’s official stance.”

CNN said it reached out to Conway for a comment. She did not immediately respond. After CNN published its article, however, Conway reportedly called to deny its accuracy, adding that she would be appearing Wednesday night on Fox News. A spokeswoman for Fox News did not immediately respond to TheBlaze when asked to confirm if Conway would appear on the channel.

But was it just another unfortunate instance Wednesday where the media reported something that ended up not being true? Or could it be part of a larger strategy on the part of the White House? While there’s no evidence to suggest one way or another, there are multiple recent examples just like this one where the White House didn’t shy away from calling out the press for reporting what they said anonymous sources told them.

A similar example happened just Friday when a Department of Homeland Security official said a department memo from last month proposed utilizing as many as 100,000 National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants, according to USA Today. Hours after the report, though, White House press secretary Sean Spicer blasted the reports, calling them “100 percent not true,” NBC News reported.

And just two before the White House denied the National Guard claim, a “top source” described “borderline chaos” during an interview with Axios.

The next day, Trump took to Twitter where he denounced the report to his more than 25 million followers as “fake news.”

“Don’t believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.”

This all begs one question: Why would officials in an administration that is “running very well” give reporters false information? If everyone is truly on the same page, wouldn’t these people know the difference?

Shouldn’t the DHS official who cited the January memo have known the administration was not actually considering deploying National Guard troops to round up illegal immigrants? And why would a “top source” at the White House describe their own working environment as “borderline chaos,” only to potentially sow actual chaos as officials would then scramble to correct such “fake news?” Is it possible that the White House is instead intentionally leaking false stories to the press in an effort to discredit the whole institution?

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Perhaps later it will.