President Donald Trump recently invited six local news reporters to the White House, where they were able to converse with the president in the Oval Office.
Though what they talked about with Trump was off the record, Jacqueline Policastro — one of the reporters present — indicated she was grateful to learn information that will “inform (her) reporting in the weeks and months ahead.”
Policastro, the Washington bureau chief for broadcast company Gray Television, also said she had never received such access during the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
“This is access we never received covering the previous two presidents, and it doesn’t stop in the Oval Office,” she stated.
And while the reporters were not able to quote Trump himself, they did get several soundbites from Cabinet secretaries.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for example, discussed Trump’s views on trade.
“He wants to renegotiate NAFTA,” Mnuchin said.
Secretary of Energy Rick Perry echoed the message Trump tried to get across during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday.
“He’s talking about using coal. Using American coal,” Perry said.
Likewise, Trump said in his speech that his administration has “ended the war on American energy.”
“We have ended the war on beautiful clean coal,” Trump added. “We are now very proudly an exporter of energy to the world.”
Secretary of Veterans Affairs David Shulkin also emphasized a point Trump drove home in his Tuesday address.
“We want this to be an organization that works for veterans,” Shulkin said of his department.
Trump, for his part, has pledged that he “will not stop until our veterans are properly taken care of.”
“All Americans deserve accountability and respect, and that’s what we are giving to our wonderful heroes, our veterans,” the president said.
Policastro noted that the Trump administration is giving her bureau increased access because it wants to “reach voters, and (the access) doesn’t come with restrictions on what we can ask.”
“That means we get down to the local issues that matter to our viewers all across the country,” she said.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah further detailed this strategy, explaining that people all across the country should be able to tune into their local news stations and hear about how the administration is working to make their lives better.
“We want everybody who is dealing with making dinner, picking up their kids to understand that their job is more secure. Their paychecks are going to get bigger. They have a lot to be optimistic about,” Shah said.
Policastro pointed out that Trump “shared that optimism during our Oval Office meeting.”
According to White House budget director Mick Mulvaney, the president is “the billionaire man of the people.”
“He is the same person in private that you see on television. So, when you hear him say, ‘I really do care about the factory workers, I really do care about the folks who are unemployed, I care about folks having to deal with drug violence on the boarders,’ he really does,” Mulvaney said.
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