tv White House Correspondents on the Press the Presidency CSPAN February 21, 2018 10:52am-11:56am EST
i'm alexis and i am a correspondent with the helena covered the white house a long time. i'm delighted to talk with colleagues that i know well and have known over multiple white house administrations. we have peter doocy, steve from writers. could each of you remind us how many presidents have covered? i know you're really young steve how many? >> i started the midpoint of george h to be bush. so i came in late 1990. before cell phones were thing. so i have : five president. >> five, all right. >> i move back to washington in 2005 so i was here for the second half of george w. bush as president. i didn't start covering the white house until barack obama's campaign i had covered the once he was inaugurated i was there ever cents.
>> i came in 96 for clinton, my fourth president there is my 12th the press secretary. >> this is my fifth president. let's start. i want to remind everybody that start where we left off. i wanted to talk to margaret about access. it has communication and white house correspondents association work together to try to enlarge access. they do that regardless of who is president of the association. margaret, and the beginning of the first year, what are some of the victories are some of the
successes and educating a new administration of what the expectations are, what their options are. what are some of the enlarged access success stories? >> i think my dear friend. plasters president is right here. was on the front of the battle lines and i was like his wing man. a new administration you have the challenge i've been wanting to do things their way and find their footing. in this case you had an additional couple of layers because the point of the campaign was i don't care how people do things this is how i will do things. and then steve bannon credibly things that. part of the brand and pitch of president trump space was saying
this is how we have always done it was the worst thing. so there is a political win toward the idea of him thinking about changing everything. there is a challenge that look like a higher degree of the faculty. there's certainly a reason for journalism and the american public way to do news conferences. we also know there is -- my concern to both address this, there is an incentive for a white house and administration to continue the traditions as well. the challenge was to facilitate the conversations and encourage
them to understand the process before making changes without insisting away counterproductive. there is a tenuous dance. in a typical white house the formation of the white house begins in the final five or six months of inauguration. once you know who the nominee is you start having these in-depth conversations with what is going to become the transition team about how you organize pools and how things work. this one of those things that the viewers don't see.
there is a degree of continuity when people cover the administration for so long. the desire was to try to have constructive conversations behind the scenes even though in front of the camera we understood part of the presidents political instinct it to the right approach -- i have to say that a lot of the practices remain. we can see that. were still in the briefing room. there is a time when the briefings went off camera but now they're back on camera because the president sees the value in that. what are some areas that have been frustrating? no reporter thinks it's a good idea when a sitting a american
president denigrates the free press at home and overseas intel's people they cannot believe facts that are true. that's not good. it's not something we can control. but that is like a. everybody here knows it has been a year is when an official news conference in this sort of thing less row 45 minutes or an hour. it is typically nine or ten questions. he favors different kinds of settings, they tend to be pool settings and that turns into a 30 minute question and answer remark by him. . .
over 2100 people. it is a disproportionate significance for kind of point of access than in recent years in a way that is frustrating to a lot of people, understandably so. i think it is much better to have the ability to ask questions but no ability to ask question, but would like all white house correspondence to have a shot with the give and take on the president with major issues. >> buy me a follow-up because the one and only formal news was so interesting because i left abreu. he enjoyed their spirit he
called on the reporters themselves are suppose to get it out for the past secretary of protocol on and he was in command of that room command of backroom answered a lot of questions. i thought he would do it more and we haven't seen him do more of that. can you talk about first two things. why hasn't the president done it in the second of all, what different kinds of reporters and questions as he campaigned in no short exchanges with reporters there every day as opposed to a more formal news conference where you have various news agencies are not without a few different kinds of questions. does anybody have an idea why he stopped doing it? >> i would guess with george w. bush used to complain about people peacock enough press conferences, this president doesn't like to be be challenged in that format where you're sort of one-on-one with him in front of a huge audience. i think he likes to keep us off
balance a bit with this q&a in the oval office, the cabinet room out on the departure for murray and one with the cameras going and it's very noisy. i think he prefers that. the questions are shorter by happenstance and less confrontational. >> do you have any thoughts on it yourself in terms of this ground versus the formal? >> i think whatever works for the president works for the president. i don't have any particular problem with that. i have to say the one thing that i thought that was battered in particular like about the obama white house is how they got rid of the actions they had with the president of the united states. all controversies come and go without ever having heard the president's voice. by the time we got to have an actual news conference are more likely he gave an interview to a particular news outlet or something like that.
you know, three or four or five iterations on some big event without ever having heard his voice. i thought that was a mistake. if i had to pick between hearing the president and given a chance to ask a few questions three or four times a week versus a formal east room, i'm in favor of the meat and potatoes let's hear more often. >> let's hear about formal interviews. all of you have interviewed for a job -- president trump. martha has come up with numbers on how frequently used in interviews produced an 86 in his first year. president obama did 162. they were not all the same types of interviews. talk a little bit about what an interesting, unique kind of interview he can be. this is two wires, which is different than if i were asking a tv anchor. >> i don't know but my guess is these 162 for obama were much more dominantly press than they
were print. we had fewer than the times said and then he stopped talking to wes. he stopped talking a new service in general. [inaudible] >> martha is saying -- >> that's a good point. but david remnick, ones with log or form do that. >> but anyway, talk about interviewing donald trump because you've all interviewed other presidents and he's an unusual interviewee. >> it is quite fun really. [laughter] you know, you go into the oval office in the sit in chairs and earn a degree and resolute desk. he has a wooden console from which i'm told has been there for decades. there is a red button on it that he likes to push in order of
diet coke and will offer you one if you like. we tend to focus a lot on policy issues than financial foreign policy and he answers the question, but then he'll drift away into other areas sometimes. you have to be careful of pulling back to the topic at hand. but he'll talk to you. so so you've got 30 minutes. you'll end up 55. zero go on for a long time. sometimes people come in and out like one-time vice president president pence came wandering in and they talked for a second then he left and we kept going. it's a lot of fun. >> margaret, do you want to add to that? >> i've had one formal sit down. actually i think i was sitting in the whole time, he was sitting down, interview with the president. with this sort of drive-by interview lori asked him a question and then they'll expose
them and you them all down and it seems like an interview, but i have the one real interview appeared listed out to me is first of all he's very gracious. stands up, shakes your hand. come on in, make yourself comfortable. it's a big show about being in his face and then, he can kind of, you have to real him back a little bit. it was about a half an hour interview in 20 minutes until we've only done my two questions. by reporting partner, jennifer jacobs and i had a lot of questions. at a certain point we said ok, we need to do is speed around here. are you up for a speed round? if i can't, sherry. we did like 10 other questions in six minutes and wrote a story south of the story and he was open to talking with kim jong
directly. just act like that's normal and we can talk about it later. and then, we rode like eight stories. it was an insane day. he knew that he was like ripping things up and you could tell he was really enjoying that. this is right around the 100 day mark. the pace in the strategy made change a little bit. the one thing that i also remember is that we write this kim's dory in like 20 minutes later the press office walks it back. you know, he met under circumstances. >> how many minders were in the room? [inaudible] >> the one with john is largely whole pics. sarah was in one in gary collinwood said one. hope is always there. >> nobody tried to really
redirect that. he's in charge. his interview. >> you did an interesting interview. i hope to talk about the one they were three of you in the room in the room and you are doggedly trying to talk about policy. he was easily diverted. >> i remember walking out july of last year. so very casual. people said he got the w. and it was supposed to be michael and i ago a man and to be hanging around in the briefing room that day. very casual, much more spontaneous than in previous white houses. with obama, with bush, it's always very disciplined and this is what i want to say and these are the questions i'm in line to ask and i don't like to be interrupted, please.
the problem was his first answer would be 13 minute and you had 20 and you could not -- please don't interrupt me. president trump come he doesn't mind if you interrupt him. you can just let on in a new kind of have to if you want to keep them on course because he will veer off in tangents and directions he had no intention of going in. you can be too inflexible because some of those are interesting. suddenly he got on that tangent and he said something about jeff sessions and refusal. we had reporting that is a mistaken wasn't happening. s. finley to second, without a mistake for the attorney general to do it? off to the races that have just tested and should never done that. he never would've appointed jeff sessions as attorney general had he known he was going to do that. not while we went into the interview expecting to get, but he went there. i remember walking out thinking with my partners or colleagues i
say what is the lead there. they normally repeat the same stuff over and over because they're very disciplined about their talking points. into what obama was going to say, what bush was going to say. but this guy, it what is believed they are? there's a few things that could be the lead. you have to be aggressive enough to try to control the conversation so it doesn't completely go off the rails, but also given a chance to talk because he said something he didn't expect them to say for the last thing as people say gosh, you know, you sort of let them off the primrose path. he knew exactly what he's doing. he does come at least in the interview that we did, he went off the record from time to time. he's very conscious of what he saying in that it is on the record. it wasn't that we were somehow ambushing him. >> sorry, not to overly
dominate. one thing i began to understand after that interview experience and has only been reinforced in the months since is that you can have bowed normally qualify as the great interview where was like wow, he just made a lot of news. but by the end of the week, half of those positions are not necessarily the position anymore or were just a test. it wasn't mike so, i won't -- i don't want to say there's no value in the interview. there is always value in talking to the american president for the reporter who covers the president. but it doesn't mean the same thing. >> true, but just a slight counter and not in that the previous president i thought everyone was always busy staying connected and interview. i don't care. i'm not going to get anything out of it. i never got any revelation because they are so disciplined.
what mike said earlier is correct. you are going to get what he thinks. he is not holding back. it is a window into his thinking and so interviews in that sense are more valuable than a lot of times. >> i want to just follow it. some journals have not gotten phone calls to the president of the united states because he wants to revise or read something could have any of you gotten phone calls? >> yes, but this is embarrassing actually because it tells an embarrassing story. >> palette. >> he wanted to call one day because he was upset about everyone thinking he was upset about the russia probe. and he was upset. he wanted everyone to know he was not upset about the russia probe so everybody who thinks he might be, let it be known he was not upset about it. so he called and i have never once had a call from a president
in 20 some years or whatever of doing this. i'll confess, i was on msnbc at the time. the phone rang. i said i'm not answering that i'm on television. i'm like who is calling. stop it. i get off the air and i looked down and maggie is not text me say what are you doing, answer the phone, the president of the united states calling you. i didn't answer it and he never called back. terrible reporter. >> he is going to see this and he will call you. here's my next question to you. i get the question that i'm sure all of you do and that is in this white house there is so much information in different sources of information. we've been talking about access. everyday people asking how do you as a reporter trust the information you are getting because you are trying to tell the story about something you just described as having the shelf life of yogurt sometimes.
the question is -- [inaudible] >> i stand corrected. >> o. go to margaret's house. >> can you all describe, when you talk to anonymous sources, we talked to 20 people comment i detach all the different part and say i know the story. >> look at the john kelly's story from a couple weeks ago, how much trouble with em? you get a different story from various officials is that you have to be very careful describing his situation. somebody said he was going to resign. somebody said the yacht to resign. i was never quite sure what he in fact did. but we did try the reflected in the reporting. it's very hard sometimes. >> i'm kind of a policy politics reporter.
so, the palace intrigue and the parlor games have never been my go to thing anyway. i never really liked that about covering the white house. it's like there's a dread factor in this part of the job because once you've identified is always true in any white house, but it's more true now because they now because there were two, three, four, five columns have different opinions, different desires come a different kind of loyalty structures. people are still trying to kill people. not as bad as the year ago, but they still are. people inciting people outside. it's not my favorite kind of journalism anyway. i don't enjoy that kind of reporting very much. >> even if he wanted to do a subsidy story about trade and he talked to people in the white house about trade, you would have 16 different versions of what the president's perspective
is. >> how do you report it -- and read very carefully with caveats and the constant sense that what you're reporting is only as good as the sources you have. look, no matter who the president has come you should be mindful of this kind of thing anyway. you should always be careful of it anyway. not ground reporting is always rife with these things anyway. it's just more so now and it's important to be a little bit transparent but the public about the fact that what you're reporting might be true. it is your best effort to tell people what you believe is going on based on doing a story job as you can possibly believe. is that the limitations of the reporting. >> have had experiences you want to share about that? you had different experiences of their team telling different versions. >> every white house obviously has people with different views.
in its more so in this one because there's one person who understands president trump immodest president trump. and maybe not always then. so you know, i gave you one script. i give you another script. in november would lead the paper in a story saying the white house had a plan to push out rex tillerson and replace him. and guess what? it's february. he's still here. he pointed out the other day i'm still here. was the story wrong or did they have a plan? i don't know the answer to the question had, but it's a reminder that you've got to be very careful there is something that may be in the plan today doesn't actually show up in his plans tomorrow and make sure you caveat and gives the reader the full limitations of our understanding.
>> all of us at one time or another, the idea of a white house using the prospect of loyal. sarah and mike had an interesting exchange over that context. can you all talk about how you've dealt with the idea of understanding that the president talks about fake news and fake news in haiku translated fake news and how you translate in your venue and reporting, how to deal with that concept in the idea that the president and the white house are often or sometimes presenting information that is not accurate, that is inaccurate and some people say is purposely false. >> those are two different things. there is the hostility issue and the fact issue. >> been the target. talk about being a target. >> as we been sitting here for those of you not looking at your funds, within target cnn and msnbc. i don't know what they did
wrong, but they did something wrong. you know, the people who say this has a broad impact on society and the credibility of the media and so forth and so on, i get the point. i don't disagree with that. in terms of my job, worrying about working on a reporter in the white house it doesn't help that much. it's all theater as mike says. he says fake news, failing "new york times" and then he calls us and has interviews. i don't get to work up about the name-calling stuff. i would get more worked up if it leads to limitations on our access or ability to do our job. when he says let's go after nbc's license come if you were to follow through in something like that, that would be huge concern. at the beginning of the administration when jeff was in charge of taking us out of the west wing or limiting our briefings are not going to use television anymore, those are all concerned and we should get
worked up about those. it is what it is. it's funny, you know, he will come back to the back of the plane. look at some rally someplace in the late comedian says in people screaming at you, told the truth. cnn's socks and all that kind of stuff. very intimidating moment. hey everybody, how's it going? he's like the valet resort. he wants to make sure everybody's having a good time. it is hard to take that genuine, but also not too serious at the same time. >> you have more concerns? >> yeah, i do have concerns about it because it has a negative impact. look, we are reporters. we are not here to be friends and have a president like you.
it's never like that with the new president. but i have concerns about its impact on people's ability to trust information and i think that can hurt individual people who need the information that any kid might to kind of a breakdown of the fabric of society, but i also think that it's not really our job. our job is to report the news and it is more important than ever that people who are journalism advocates, people were journalism at risk in a free-speech activists, regular people who believe ms speak out and support us. we need their support and we need everybody who's concerned about is to talk about it. we cannot always be talking about it and doing our job. our jobs are the same whoever the president is coming to get information and to write fair and truthful coverage that sometimes is critical and always
shines a light and helps people understand the decisions their governments are making, why things are happening the way they are happening. it makes it harder to do our job. that's okay. that's what we signed up for. that's an important time to be a journalist, for filling time to be a journalist. i do worry about the impact of it. there is a segment of american society. a lot of different segments of society, but there is a segment that we as individual correspondent here from sometimes on twitter or e-mail who say, why don't you boycott the briefings? how can you even go to the briefing for how can you even cover someone who has such little regard for you? i appreciate the sentiment, but it's a fundamental misunderstanding of what our job is. we are not there to be liked or appreciated. we are there to get information and share with the public. if we have to do it under
unpleasant circumstances, that is okay. bulges do it. it's a real mistake to somehow think that you should cover the white house more when things seem nicer or easier. that's not at all what the job is about. >> there were some scary moments during the campaign covering it because when you would say these things he would get the crowd excited and sometimes we feel threatened and some ways. but over the months we've seen how accessible he has been. like peter says, you just do what the rhetoric, okay he doesn't like us. he's trying to cover up something he doesn't want to answer questions because of fake news. but the accessibility as they are. they haven't kicked us out. we are still in the building. so in that sense, we are getting good coverage. >> the danger, by the way, in the days cannot be what he says
we are. that is not our role. the idea that we play into that, we cannot do that. it's not our job to argue about this. it is our job to cover him. >> that that leads to the other question i was asking, which is receiving his organizations more assertively take on the role of opposition. and even to say the president is telling a lie with the white house is telling a lie. so describe to people what you think the differences from the press corps is holding public officials to account versus the labeling. >> i think that is our job, independent institution in society and it's our job to be a fact check and it's been that same response for every president i've covered. we spent 15 minutes debating this country was bill clinton telling us who's telling the
truth. it's not that we didn't spend a lot of time examining and scrutinizing his words for what it is. so it's more institutionalized now because partly at the the discussion appear west, speed and velocity and volume of information on helping readers sort through it more so we have a more institutionalized version of his fact checking columns. let's face it, it has discovered rightly so this president has made more false statements and more distorted things than other presidents have. sarah wants to say it's 90% negative coverage. coverage following what we are given. if he's going to say things that aren't true, we have to say it's not true and there are fault. it's our fault for not pointing out it's not true. we have to be careful about crossing that line. >> let me ask about the briefing
martha was talking about the misconceptions about the briefing. you were saying how important it is to you in to bloomberg, to reuters, "the new york times" to delve into whether it's in the briefing room or anywhere else. as we have colleagues here who would love to get their substantive questions answered and may not have any other venue to do that in some cases in the briefing room. can you talk about the challenge of trying to get substantive answers. we talked about how you can get lots of different answers, beginning substantive answers. if you don't get a chance to talk to the president and you're trying to talk to others in the agencies or departments inside the white house, what is the technique? >> what we do is we asked to talk to the experts and sometimes i will have been. one day when they were thinking about a new fed chair, we said he was the expert on this and they were very nice to set aside. i used to talk about it off the
record. the national security council has been very good at setting up various briefings about topics in afghanistan, iran, what have you. it doesn't happen quite often enough, but it's there. there is a way to get information. we don't hear as much from the principle like h.r. mcmaster. john kelly we heard from. that would be helpful to hear more from those people. the briefing as you can see is dominated by theatrics. i think it was a little water they might get into more substance towards the end. but as of now, that is how it is. >> i just feel that the briefing is a valuable institution because it is an opportunity once a day or at least a few times a week to ask questions that the public can hear and see and have the administration resort of apt to respond to those in the way the american public can see.
it's probably not going to be the most sensitive or nuance or kind of like coming in now, open up your heart kind of response, but it is something and then it on it's much harder to get back. as you and mark the point now, we all take for granted that everybody knows this. it was fraction of the way you do your jobs. three or four people might ask a question or the press secretary might make clear they are not going to answer the question that day. the reason you don't ask it again is because you asked a question to get the answer differ way were you read the story on what the position is. like in any body of reporting, without getting into the individual sources, the white house is doing something and you're trying to figure out what they're doing, you ask the white house, look through the federal register, go through foia, ask people from the same party in congress committee opposing party in congress.
u.s. state department to read at the pentagon. the last guy who has the job. you asked the guy gunning for the job. you call a think tom -- think tank. that is how you do it. the briefing is a little part of it, but it's not cool thing. it's obfuscating in the briefing, the public can see that. it's there for the record and you go about the west of the way you're doing your reporting, which people don't see it, which doesn't mean it isn't happening. of course it's happening. >> is more about accountability that information. it's the opportunity the public has too asked questions and have the answer be reported on the record. it doesn't mean they were going to get as much information, but if they choose not to answer we get to judge that, too. the idea of getting rid of the briefing because it's not very useful, i'm sympathetic to frustration, but i think it's a terrible idea to get rid of the
briefing. this is about the most powerful person on the planet being forced through his spokesperson, spokeswoman, to respond each day hopefully two important concerns. again, they don't have to give information if they don't want to, like what churchill said about democracy, the worst form of government than all the others. the worst form one except for all the others. the anonymous background, superduper background and no accountability. >> let me ask you questions in the time we have remaining. i want to ask about technology. in the time that we've all covered the white house, there have been faxes, pagers, e-mails, cell phones and encrypted text. can you talk about the beauty of without revealing your sources and not is, can you talk about
how technology helps you reach the people that you need now even if the president is trying to reach you when you're on his tv set. can you talk about how technology has helped you do your job? >> it is really helpful to be a lot of text people directly. you don't have to go through a metal person that might stop you. and when you think about going all the way back to 30 years ago when there were no cell phones, i was on a trip to japan with resident george h.w. bush and he got ill and marlon fits with the press secretary at the time and was touted dinner with some reporters and the waiter came up and then i'm sorry to tell you that your president has died. [laughter] we were back at the press center and we knew something bad happened. we had no idea what it was.
there is no way to call anybody because we were overseas. so marlon came rolling in and finally got some answers. but if you fast-forward to now, we've got everything but wi-fi on air force one. it's made it great. >> yes. i still think -- i feel like there is no real substitute for an actual conversation, preferably in person. i still think that is the most valuable in terms of building some kind of a relationship of trust with somebody and in terms of understanding the nuance of their language or what they mean to be saying. and i think even if it's encrypted and people feel okay about it because it's going to turn into approved an amendment, and that you just are not -- you are having more than your
conversations that way. they are not as thorough in its harder for them to go in different directions. covering the white house has a lot of stuff going on every day. and any white house there were things happening, things that didn't happen on purpose and things that just slipped away. it's harder to learn about that. >> there's a lot of atmospherics. do you have technology? >> in the 1960s on an outing with the baltimore orioles and something happened, i don't remember what it was. the jumbotron says "new york times," call your office. no mobile phones, no pagers, no nothing. today, technology is an enormous research entering our job and is also a ball and chain. there is no escaping it and this
thing goes off at 5:00 in the morning now. the president telling his way of thinking, which is a great day in a lot of ways. each presidency changes and it increases the velocity and the pace as we've talked about. i don't know that it's given us -- in some ways you have more access to direct people, but he used to be when i started with clinton, i just called people and they actually took a phone call and now i feel like i can almost never get anybody. they are always running from meeting to meeting. they have a thousand interviews. i'm completely sympathetic. you're gone for 20 minutes and is 150 e-mails. when he was press secretary is that what's going on. this is what we're saying.
is this right, what do you think? it's been years since i had that kind of regular interaction with press secretary. >> the last question you brought up twitter. twitter is a tool for all of us in certainly a tool for the president of the united date and news organizations have mobilized higher armies of people. young reporters, smart reporters, editors to monitor what is going on in twitter. can you talk about how it used yourselves in your reporting try to sift out what it is you're going to follow in chase, what you think your need to going to follow up because i think i can sometimes read twitter and tell which ones the president wrote and which ones were written by the staff. although the emulation is pretty good, but it's not quite exact. anyway, talk about the idea of what it means to you to sort out for yourself.
>> to talk about his tweets for a second, we used our first person in the office in the washington bureau would come in at 7:00 before trump, but when he started tweeting so early, we now have someone come in at 6:00 to monitor the tweets. we can have news breaking up until 11:00 at night. there's only a brief window when something is not happening. the tweets storm over the weekend come you take that very seriously because you know he's bothered by the russia probe in the indictments and he doesn't feel like you've given a fair shake. you take those very seriously. he does have what i would call the tax cut in his visit, but then when he starts to talk about geek news, he's just blowing off some steam. you have to ignore some of the stuff.
>> the one thing that occurs to me is this unprecedented window into a flash and two at the president seems to be thinking, that it also allows one individual to control the narrative. i think much more than before. did you cannot ignore the tweets. and so, that's a day and a half. when the president has said in his first room -- first term. the singular dominance of this one-story, basically obliterated any other news if you watch news on tv or if you get your news from the front page.
if you're interested in energy policy are what's happening in syria, you can find the, but if you want it the easy way, which is kind of the old-school format, it is all news. the white house, the president, what he's thinking, what he just said. as a journalist who's interested in some other subject, it must be frustrating for news consumers also and i think that means the complicated effects of twitter that we haven't totally come to terms with yet. >> sera said it appeared she was frustrated we didn't focus and i get her point. i can only imagine what it's like to be a press secretary. that never happens. but you know, we will focus on something other than the substance they want us to focus on. it might be because we're trying to respond to what the president is saying on twitter. it seems to me, the first point
of changing mat if they wanted to change it would be about twitter. you can't say i want to talk today about our medicaid policy. even the president of the united states president of the united states just accused the fbi of being responsible for shooting the children. i'm sorry, not going to ignore that to focus on whatever it is you decided to be the talking point. you always lose shark week. so i sympathize with this challenge that he must feel the press office, but they are looking the wrong direction down the hall. i appreciate they do bring out the subject matter of people and frankly to just discourage the trees that are very news the end are reviewing. you know, when is the last time we had a president talk to us
about what he really thought? >> it's original. let's stop there and take a few questions because we have a few minutes left right here. this is eric. you know eric. >> the organizations responding in what you are as well. your organizations in terms of the resource -- [inaudible] >> that's a good question. at the "washington post" we had to white house reporters. went to three i guess after 9/11 i think around the time of obama and we're up to six now that the times anyway.
our bureau as a whole, washington and "the new york times" is up 50% total staff. the number was around 70 before trump took office, something like that. do i feel like we have enough? no. at the end of the day there's more than we could be doing and i wish we were. it's like a triage. which one you could get done with the time you have that's important and meaningful in its never enough. >> we have six full-time white house reporters. but there's also, i mean, it's been across the newsroom after. it started off so any hour of the night, anywhere in the world is in charge if it's a trump to
eat it immediately flagged so an editor in charge can determine whether this is important enough for an alert. all of the teams that you can imagine have been brought in. the investigative piece, people who cover issues, energy. so i think i feel great about the resources my company has dedicated to the coverage not just what is happening at the white house or the news of the day, but the people with more subsidies to. there is a lot that we are all really tired yet nobody sleeps. i'll sleep for five hours. but i think at the large operations like the global newsroom operations in major newspapers, there has been a redirection asset to rise up to the moment to the time we are
in. i really, really sympathize with my colleagues and friends here tonight who are one-man bands or two man band for regional paper or work for publications were the only white house correspondent of the washington correspondent in the white house. i think it would be almost impossible to ever feel that you could get your hands around all of it. such a fire hose of information to be one or two people. i mean, i have hundreds of people in my company who can help me when there's a major breakthrough story about the white house. even then sometimes it like how are we going to manage everything today? >> reuters is also reaching out at "new york times" and bloomberg. >> we quite often have stories we work with bureaus around the world. like we do allow for seoul, south korea, the people there on
the front lines there with north korea. we are constantly talking to european friends also in the middle east where the serious story never ends. there's five of us at the white house for reuters, but then every department in our bureau gets into the trump story during the course of the day. [inaudible] >> acoma we set up a separate trump investigation team is a group of people. it touches the old bureau. >> any other hands? hold on. tell them who you are. >> i was just curious -- [inaudible] do you feel like if you take a day after going to miss everything? have you had a break in the year
and a half? >> i'm a believer in vacation. i work 18 hour days that's required but i believe you have to check out. i took a week off for two weeks off last summer in a rubber thinking it took me a couple days and i realize they should be more. the endless stories. don't worry when you get back something will happen. >> if you go to dinner actually. >> i think you're right about the mental health. everybody needs to stop thinking about your job for a while. >> let's go to another question over here. [inaudible] >> i am just wondering if in the trump administration it's harder to use that because the white house has been internally divided on some of these questions about what the facts are. >> we will say that. we have also added the contents of like differing opinions
within the administration over trade for instance. we do make note of that. it is not like an opinion piece that we write, but it is context that makes you understand there is a division of opinion. >> let's get the more questions. this gentleman right here. >> during the campaign, there was not one person who didn't know his name. one thing the trunk of free airtime from the press reporting on what he said and what he did all the time. do you feel like the press is sometimes helping trump in some way? >> helping trump? we are just covering the news and there's a lot of it. what you think? >> he's the president. it's different. you're asking about the campaign in a way. i think that is like a fair
question. can you call into a morning show what if ted cruz called in and they get ted cruz lives. that is like all prologue and he is the president of the united states, so he's just the one and he was buried in depth in understanding how to shape the narrative and how to make something new disease than we are in the business of reporting news. covering it, there's not a question of whether or not you cover it. it is to explain to readers want his rhetoric, what is substance and what does that matter. one more question. go ahead. >> you mentioned earlier that this president relies heavily on limited event that aren't accessible to most of the press
corps. what would you suggest to those of bias who are fortunate enough to work for outlet that have that level of regular access and aren't a priority for this president's office. how are we supposed to do our jobs went in a lot of ways, the people who are getting the access our content with it and the rest of us are routinely ignored? how are we supposed to do our jobs just as well? >> please, go ahead. >> i know that's a real frustration and i feel the frustration. but, there's a few things i would say. one is you should always encourage the president, the press secretary, whether it's behind the scenes or in some public venue like twitter to take all of the press' questions. of course you should ask for
that. number two, the reports are that document for all journalists. just because you weren't there doesn't mean you can't use within there. it is for all of us. it is for the public and for reporters to use. and three, i wouldn't say that people are content with it. i am not content with it, but given the opportunity for some people to be able to ask the question of a president versus no people, i think there's value in in some people asking the question. of course that is continuously urging sarah sanders, hope hicks, the administration to expand access to hold full news conferences to make the president accessible to all the press were covers them. that is not something we ever stopped asking for.
i find that there is value in it. i think you i think it should have been, but there is also reporting, the most important reporting of any white house that you don't have to be in a room with the president to ask him. there's the investigative reporting. there is a narrative of expository reporting coming the analysis reporting that all of us can do. you want to help everyone to be able to get access to ask the president questions that matter to them. i know it's frustrating -- >> a lot of times the questions a lot of us get asked is if you want those outlets and so they are not addressing those questions. >> that is another problem. it is not, although i think
every president handled, president obama did display more as news conferences. but they did not encourage the questions either. utah the questions you really think. that wasn't there for anyone. i think there's a few venues that are open press access, but the president takes a lot of questions now. you've got to where your elbow pads and helmets, but if you go out there in your code at 7:00 in the morning or whatever, and there's a very decent chance that you will stop on his way out to the chopper. it doesn't feel dignified to do that. they're having a chance and if
the priority and is a way to do it but did not really exist with iraq obama. but for whatever it's worth as an association, i am committed, we are committed to asking this administration to make the president and top administration officials more accessible in briefings or news conferences. i do think it does deserve some kudos for bringing folks like tillerson, mcmaster, cabinet officials to the podium during regular briefings that anyone can be in the room floor. those don't only take questions of the first row. they go all around the room. in general, i agree with your frustration. i like what has become the de facto news conferences to be more accessible for the rank-and-file of the membership and i'll continue to work the best i can to encourage it.