Trump continues pattern of calling on reporters from conservative media

President Donald Trump at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
Alex Wong/Getty Images
President Donald Trump at a joint news conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

WASHINGTON — For the second time in three days, President Donald Trump turned to reporters from news outlets considered friendly to the administration to ask questions at a brief White House news conference.

Trump took two questions from American news organizations on Monday in a joint appearance with Canadian Prime minister Justin Trudeau. Neither question touched specifically on two pressing issues: the fate of Trump’s embattled national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and reports that North Korea has tested a new missile that may be capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.

Instead, reporters Scott Thuman from Sinclair Broadcast Group and Kaitlan Collins of the Daily Caller asked Trump open-ended questions about trade, immigration and national security.


Sinclair, the nation’s largest owner of TV stations, scored multiple exclusive interviews with Trump and his surrogates during the presidential campaign and showcased his candidacy in its feature reporting. The Daily Caller is a conservative website founded by Tucker Carlson, who hosts a Fox News program.

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On Friday, Trump, in a brief news conference with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, took questions from reporters from the New York Post and Fox Business Channel, both of which are controlled by media mogul Rupert Murdoch, a Trump ally.

In Monday’s meeting, Trump called on Sinclair’s Thuman first. Thuman asked: ‘‘I’m curious as you move forward on issues from trade to terrorism, how do you see this relationship playing out? And are there any specific areas during with which, during your conversations today, you each decided to perhaps, alter or amend your stances already on those sensitive issues like terrorism and immigration?’’

Trump replied in part that ‘‘we are going to have a great relationship with Canada, maybe as good or better, hopefully, than ever before.’’

Collins later asked him: ‘‘What do you see as the most important national security matters facing us? And Prime Minister Trudeau, you’ve made very clear that Canada has an open-door policy for Syrian refugees. Do you believe that President Trump’s moratorium on immigration has merit on national security grounds?’’


Trump said he saw ‘‘many, many problems.’’ He added, ‘‘Obviously North Korea is a big, big problem and we will deal with that very strongly,’’ without offering specifics.

The traditional format of news conferences between the president and world leaders is known as a ‘‘two-and-two,’’ meaning that each leader calls on two journalists of their choosing.

The toughest question in Trump’s session with Trudeau arguably came from a Canadian reporter whom Trudeau selected. She directed her question at Trump; after pointing out that Trump had suggested that refugees are ‘‘a Trojan horse’’ for terrorists and that Canada has embraced refugees, she asked whether Trump was ‘‘confident’’ that America’s border with Canada was secure.

Trump didn’t respond directly. He said instead that the United States was seeking to get ‘‘criminals’’ out of the country and would be successful in doing so.

While reporters are free to ask any question they desire, the Trump administration has appeared to favor conservative news organizations during question-and-answer sessions. White House press secretary Sean Spicer has given greater prominence to journalists from such outlets during his daily briefings. Spicer has also begun taking questions from reporters in remote locales via Skype, frequently giving time to talk-radio hosts who support Trump.


The practice doesn’t guarantee favorable coverage or easy questions, but it does limit questions from that reporters who might ask about things that White House officials, including Trump, may not want to address publicly.

‘‘This is a clear strategy of the White House to downgrade the influence of the mainstream media who might be asking about the future of the national security adviser, about North Korea, by putting these other people up front and limiting the scope of what might be asked,’’ CNN analyst Gloria Borger said immediately after the Trump-Trudeau news conference. She added, ‘‘It’s a way, unfortunately, to quiet the rest of the press.’’