One of the many executive orders rolled out by President Trump involved changes at the National Security Council. The big development, accurately reported, is that Trump adviser Steve Bannon now has a regular role with the panel. But the media botched a second part of the order, writes Jackson Diehl in the Washington Post. Despite many reports to the contrary, Trump did not demote the director of national intelligence and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. The order states that these two would go to meetings of the Principals Committee only when "issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed." Reporters translated that to mean one thing: They'd been downgraded, but that is not the case, writes Diehl.
The line simply means that they don't need to go to meetings that have nothing to do with their jobs, such as disaster relief. "Normally, an honest misunderstanding of this kind would be quickly sorted out in normal contacts between reporters and White House staff," writes Diehl. "This one wasn’t," and both sides end up looking bad as a result. No such channels exist because the White House takes an antagonistic tone toward journalists, who are in turn skeptical of any official statements or explanations. "Some quiet, professional, off-camera communication between White House staff and reporters—the mechanism that has usually ensured that the truth eventually gets out in previous presidencies—would help." Click for Diehl's full column. (Read more National Security Council stories.)