As President Trump continues feeling pressure from the political vise in which he has situated himself, he has turned to his usual media allies for advice. Sean Hannity and Lou Dobbs have weighed in with a hard line: “push forward for the wall funding and break the Democrats’ will,” they emphasized, according to the Daily Beast.

Yet Trump showed on Wednesday afternoon in the White House that he wasn’t done soliciting media opinions on government-shutdown strategies. At a pool spray, ABC News White House correspondent Jonathan Karl queried Trump on whether it might be a good idea to sign funding bills so federal government workers can get their paychecks. “Some are being forced to work without pay, some are being furloughed,” said Karl.

Trump responded that many of those folks are “on my side ... They want to see it be done correctly. We need a barrier. We need to stop people from coming in the way they come in," citing the sticking point in negotiations with Democrats over the government shutdown.


After some more commentary on the state of contemporary U.S. politics, Trump got a follow-up from Karl. “Why not sign the other other bills, so some of these workers could get paid?" Thus began a back-and-forth:

Trump: “Do you think I should do that?”
Karl: Y-you --
Trump: No, do you think I should do that, Jon?
Karl: I mean, it’s not for me to say.
Trump: I mean, I watch your one-sided reporting. Do you think I should do that? Hey Jon, no, seriously, Jon: Do you think I should just sign?
Karl: Well, the, the argument --
Trump: Tell me, tell me.
Karl: [Inaudible] It has nothing to do with border security.
Trump: Jon, do you think I should just sign?
Karl: I-I-I’m saying that if you sign that, these workers can start getting paid, the government can start --
Trump: So you would do that if you were in my position? You’d do that?
Karl: I’m not in your position, I’m asking you if --
Trump: I’m asking you: Would you do that if you were in my position? Because if you would do that, you should never be in this position. Because you’d never get anything done.

That took about 40 seconds. An efficient allotment, in other words, for an attempt to taunt and humiliate a member of the White House press corps asking a perfectly legitimate question. Not surprising: When Trump’s political fortunes dip, his anger has a knack of falling on media types. Just consider his famous post-midterm news conference, where he insulted and shouted at several questioners, including CNN’s Jim Acosta — who later had his hard pass to the White House grounds revoked over the incident.

On the other hand! The tracking of Trump’s moods is facilitated by his willingness to do a copious amount of these short Q-and-A sessions with journalists, as the Erik Wemple Blog has written before. In this particular White House, in other words, access comes with a side of abuse.

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