Most presidents, it turns out, are frustrated with their media coverage.
For President Trump, it's the big newspapers and cable TV. For former President Obama, it was columnists.
Another stellar event with @GUPolitics! Thanks to @jrpsaki and @mikedubke for coming out and talking about Communicating for the President! pic.twitter.com/FBnqQRWQOd— Christian Mesa (@christianmesaa) September 5, 2017
"Every president who's ever sat in the Oval Office is annoyed with the press from time to time," according to former Obama Communications Director Jen Psaki. "They all — none of them will admit this publicly — have obsessions with certain columnists."
Psaki said presidents live in a bubble disconnected with normal Americans, and for many, the media is their only connection to the outside world. But often, the stories are bad.
And we're off! @cspan's @SteveScully moderates convo with former WH Comms Directors @jrpsaki (Obama) & @mikedubke (Trump) at @GUPolitics! pic.twitter.com/EScveyChRt— Mo Elleithee (@MoElleithee) September 5, 2017
"Sometimes the frustrations are related to, often times they are, actual news that's happening and a frustration that news that is not going well is being covered as it's not going well," Psaki said.
"Even the auto bailout, which we think of as the best thing we ever did in the Obama administration, the coverage at the time was terrible, and that's very frustrating to people who are sitting in the Oval Office," she added.
Former Trump Communications Director Mike Dubke, who joined Psaki to discuss White House communications at the Institute of Politics and Public Service at Georgetown University's McCourt School, said Trump has been especially frustrated with media bias.
"A good level of his frustration comes when he is hearing things come out of the press that he doesn't believe is true or is a slant on the truth," said Dubke. "It is because he understands the value of the media that he gets so frustrated, sometimes angry and upset, and tweets about it."
Typically, both said, their presidents blame the White House communications team when things go bad even if its really the blame of lousy policy.
"We used to joke…that we wanted to make t-shirts that said, ‘It's a communications problem, and sometimes it's not a communications problem, it's a policy problem,'" said Psaki.
Dubke added, "We had the same thought in our department, it said, ‘It's a communications problem' on the back, and on the front it said, ‘Covfefe,'" a reference to a confusing typo once tweeted out by Trump.
The media has been very hard on Trump, and Psaki kind of offered up some advice: "I have found for the most part that if you are passing legislation and the American public likes what you are doing, your coverage is usually OK, or pretty good."
The event was one of the first for the fall semester for the Institute of Politics and Public Service. Institute Executive Director Mo Elleithee announced a full agenda of events and student meetings, especially with the schools 2017 fellows who include Dubke and another former Obama communicator Marie Harf, GOP advisor Ron Bonjean, former Rep. Patrick Murphy, former reporter and BP spokeswoman Liz Sidoti and NBCs Jose Diaz-Balart.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com