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Why a press boycott is a bad idea

Caricature of SteveSome news organizations have called on the press to boycott the White House in reaction to President Trump’s “war on the media.”

How exactly would that work? Which media are we talking about? Would the American people even care?

As a former journalist, I can understand the emotional appeal of such a thought. But it would be counterproductive. Also, it seems like the petulant behavior of some pouting child who takes his ball home because the other kids won’t play with him.

A White House Press Boycott

First, President Trump would continue his almost daily tweets about issues and people he doesn’t like. So much of today’s mainstream news coverage is focused on politics that the legacy media would publish the tweets even if their reporters didn’t step foot on the White House lawn.

Second, the White House would have complete control of text, images and video flowing to Facebook, YouTube, Vimeo and alternative news sites friendly to the Trump administration. There would be no way the press could challenge official assertions.

Three, social media would fill the vacuum.  There  would be absolutely no effort by alternative news sites to be fair, accurate or balanced. And efforts to investigate possible government misdeeds would disappear. What would be their incentive?

Some observers complain of  a so-called “echo chamber” now with Fox News and MSNBC anchoring opposite ends of the ideological continuum but with some counterbalance in the middle.   Just imagine absolutely no  coverage of the President and White House from news organizations in the  middle.


A news boycott of the White House is a bad idea.

It reminds me of the common practice in many nations of voters casting blank ballots on Election Day because the citizens oppose the current government. Highly symbolic but completely ineffective.

No, the media should keep doing their job. We’re not popular; but that’s not our goal. Our sole responsibility is to keep government officials accountable.

But  we can’t do that if we’re not around.

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