Trump’s new communications chief seeks to mend ties with media

If US President Donald Trump,
who refers to the media as “fake news,” wants his staff to use a
more conciliatory approach with journalists, new communications
director Anthony Scaramucci may be implementing such a shift –
for now.

The Wall Street financier and Republican fundraiser walked
into the White House briefing room on Friday and immediately did
what Sean Spicer, the outgoing press secretary, did not do on
his first day in January: engage, in a friendly manner, with
reporters.

Wearing a blue tie and an American flag pin on a dark suit,
Scaramucci bantered with correspondents, pledged to be
transparent and even made respectful remarks about CNN, the
cable network with which Trump and Spicer have sparred
repeatedly.

He made fun of himself, joking about his short stature and
apologizing to Trump from the podium for having called the New
York businessman a hack politician in 2015.

“He brings it up every 15 seconds, all right?” Scaramucci
said to laughter, referring to the president. “I should have
never said that about him. So, Mr. President, if you’re
listening, I personally apologize for the 50th time for saying
that.”

Trump was probably listening.

Reporters peppered Scaramucci with questions on
press-related issues that have dogged the relationship between
the Trump presidency and the journalists that cover it.

Did he support having briefings televised? “I obviously am
committed to being transparent because I’m standing here. But
I’d like to talk that over with the president,” he said.

He noted that CNN had apologised when it reported something
false about him and that he had accepted the apology.

“There feels like there’s a little bit of media bias, and so
what we hope we can do is de-escalate that and turn that
around. And let’s let the message from the president get out
there to the American people,” he said.

He announced the new press secretary to take over from
Spicer, who resigned earlier on Friday, would be Sarah Sanders.

Spicer’s debut at the White House podium in January featured
a long scolding of reporters for their portrayal of Trump’s
Inauguration Day crowd numbers.

Asked on Friday whether he agreed with Trump’s contention,
for which there is no evidence, that 3 million people voted
illegally in the 2016 election, Scaramucci answered carefully.

“So if the president says it, let me do more research on it,
but my guess is that there’s probably some level of truth to
that,” he said.

“I think what we have found sometimes the president says
stuff, some of you guys in the media think it’s not true or it
isn’t true, and it turns out it’s closer to the truth than
people think.”

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