News media are in a heightened state of anxiety over the constant steam of criticism and invective directed at them by President Trump and his administration.

Those who respect the Fourth Estate’s mission to hold the powerful to account are right to be concerned about the new administration’s open disdain for non-friendly media.

More harmful and damaging than Trump’s outbursts against reporters, however, is the growing trend among a significant number of journalists to overreact automatically at the first whiff of something that may or may not be a disturbing development in the new White House. Newsrooms overselling stories about this administration is part of this same trend.

Feeding frenzies over stories that turn out to be big nothings make it difficult for readers to find just the facts. Overhyped panic further undermines the dwindling credibility of the news industry, ultimately giving the federal government more room to do as it pleases unchecked.

Many in the press lost their cool Tuesday after internal memos showed that employees at the Environmental Protection Agency, Department of the Interior, Department of Agriculture, and Department of Health and Human Services had been told pause all public communications.

EPA and USDA officials said later that the press oversold the story, and that the media were hyperventilating.

“I’ve lived through many transitions, and I don’t think this is a story,” one senior EPA official told the New York Times. “I don’t think it’s fair to call it a gag order. This is standard practice. And the move with regard to the grants, when a new administration comes in, you run things by them before you update the website.”

The director of communications for the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service added elsewhere, “This is what has happened at the transition of every administration … it’s just a pause.”

Reporters went on high alert again on Thursday after the Washington Post reported that the “State Department’s entire senior administrative team just resigned.”

Conservative groups urge Puzder's confirmation for Labor secretary

Also from the Washington Examiner

Conservative groups rallied Monday to support President Trump’s nominee to head the Labor Department, fast food magnate Andy Puzder, with a letter urging the Senate to confirm him as quickly as possible. The letter comes after Puzder’s long-delayed hearing was set for Feb. 7.

“We believe a change of labor policy at the federal level is crucial to encourage job creation and spur economic growth. Andrew Puzder would bring a welcome, fresh perspective to the U.S. Labor Department that our country needs. Over the years, he has warned about the harmful impact of overly burdensome workplace regulation, and his firsthand experience dealing with those burdens should prove invaluable in identifying and targeting regulations that do more

01/30/17 12:01 AM

The story was widely shared on social media, and pundits leapt to suggest dark and disturbing machinations.

But what happened was this simply that four mid-tier State officials were asked to leave, and they tendered their resignations, as is customary in these situations.

The resignations were standard, there was no mass exodus of top-level officials, and the “entire senior administrative team” certainly didn’t quit in protest of Trump, the American Foreign Service Association said in a statement.

Later that same day, the Post was at it again, reporting that Trump had “pressured [the] Park Service to find proof for his claims about inauguration crowd.”

But once you make it past the headline, it turns out the entire story amounted to nothing more than the president calling and requesting photos of his inauguration from the one agency that would have them.

Coal to the rescue

Also from the Washington Examiner

Problems with renewables and natural gas may mean only coal will keep the lights on.

01/30/17 12:01 AM

Chilling stuff, no?

It’s going to be a lot harder for the press to hold this administration to account if readers tune us out for crying wolf.

This is especially important given the sweeping changes Trump is carrying out seemingly every day. His executive order temporarily banning immigration from certain Middle East countries is a legitimately big deal worthy of heavy and careful coverage. It’s the sort of thing where the public needs context and should be able to rely on news outlets to provide it soberly.

But it will be hard getting through to readers if they are tuning out news sources because the press keeps misleading them over such things as inauguration photos.

New media would do well not to blow the remnants of their credibility overselling stories about standard transition period practices.

Will Trump SCOTUS pick, fast approaching, lead to total war?

Top Story

President Trump is set to announce his Supreme Court pick Thursday — or maybe even earlier, if a rumor flying around Washington is to be believed. There have been reports that Trump, who during the campaign named 21 prospective nominees and promised his final choice would be one of them, has narrowed his options to three, all currently serving on federal courts of appeals: Neil Gorsuch from the 10th Circuit, Thomas Hardiman from the 3rd, and William Pryor from the 11th.

But there’s also a feeling in Washington that some other player might still be in the mix.

01/30/17 12:53 AM

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