By TONIA HILL
Sean Spicer, the incoming Press Secretary for President-elect Donald Trump’s administration, spoke at the University of Chicago (U. of C.), Institute of Politics (IOP) Wednesday night, Jan. 4, at Ida Noyes Hall, 1212 E. 59th St.
Spicer joined IOP’s Director David Axelrod and former White House Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, who served under President Barack Obama’s first term, in a conversation about the 2016 presidential campaign, the transition to the White House and the upcoming Trump Administration.
Just before the conversation began between Spicer, Axelrod, and Gibbs, an unknown male from the audience interjected. Executive Director of the IOP Steve Edwards asked the man to be respectful and wait until the question and answer portion to voice his opinion.
The man yelled, “You are a press secretary for Trump…who denies facts. There is an option people..which is to stand up and resist. This is conciliating and accommodating with fascism,” he said. “That’s what it means when you have a president that celebrates sexual rape. There’s another option..to organize. Trump has his hands on the nuclear trigger there’s no checks and balances on that.”
Ultimately, U. of C. staff members escorted the man from the event. Neither of the men on the panel responded to the man’s claims during his outburst.
Spicer said the magnitude of the win for the Trump campaign was enormous.
“You saw 200 hundred counties that Obama carried flip,” Spicer said.
Trump’s use of Twitter was also a topic of discussion. Gibbs asked Spicer if he knew beforehand what Trump was going to tweet before he posts it to the site.
“I do not,” Spicer said.
“You don’t get them ahead of time,” Gibbs said.
“Nope,” Spicer said.
Spicer said that once in awhile Trump will say I am going to tweet this, but “[Trump] drives the train on this. He can drive a message and influence people in a way that hasn’t [been] done before.”
Spicer said that Trump will keep tweeting as President and that he has been extremely successful in getting his message across to the masses.
“If you look at what he’s done in terms of whether it’s Carrier, GM, the motion yesterday in Congress…if you actually sit back and objectively look at it he’s actually been extremely successful at his use of Twitter and getting a result achieved.”
Some are concerned at the frequency to which, Trump tweets and claim that he often tweets inaccurate information. For the last few months and even to date, Trump’s Twitter account drives the news for mainstream media outlets.
Spicer was also asked about the administration’s future relationship with the White House Press Corp. Some members of the press are concerned because of Trump’s distrust of the media that they will no longer have the same privileges and access to information as they have had under previous administrations at the White House.
Spicer said that there will be a daily briefing of sorts with the press corp. He is now looking for ways to enhance the relationship between the White House and journalists and citizens.
During his campaign run, Trump barred some members of the media from attending speaking events in some states and has also been critical of mainstream coverage of him during the election cycle in interviews and on social media. During a campaign rally in Fort Worth, Texas, he called both the New York Times and The Washington Post, “dishonest.”
Three former White House press secretaries told Chuck Todd, on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that they expect Trump’s administration relationship to the media to be unlike any other in times past.
“We’ve just elected a man who bullies female reporters at his rallies as an applause line,” said Nicolle Wallace, second term communications chief for President George W. Bush. “We have just elected a man who started a…war with a female anchor instead of attending a debate she moderated. We are in a new place. And I don’t think it’s good. And I don’t think it has any parallels to the past. And I don’t think Trump needs the press. But I think he wants them like an addict craves their drugs.”
The event is a part of a speaker series “America in the Trump Era,” the IOP’s look at the changes – cultural, policy, media and otherwise – coming under a Trump administration.