Fox News Radio White House correspondent Jon Decker has covered the White House for more than 20 years. He is in Phoenix to speak to journalism students at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
He talks about the changes he has seen as well as claims of fake news and President Trump calling the press “enemies of the people.”
Jon Decker's been covering the white house for over 20-years. He's currently working with "Fox News "radio" and he's in town to speak to students at ASU's Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. We welcome Jon Decker to "Arizona Horizon." good to have you here. Thanks for joining us. 20 plus years at the White House. You have seen changes. Are the changes good, bad or somewhere in between?
Jon Decker: I think some of the changes are pretty good. I say that because there is a lot more visibility of president Trump than we saw in some respects of president Obama. He's bringing us spices that often reporters don't get to see, the cabinet room, the oval office, the Roosevelt Room. We see them regularly and the president is taking our questions. Most recently, Monday, he came out to the rose garden, an impromptu press conference, something we rarely saw with president Obama or Bush or Clinton. I think that's a good thing.
Ted Simons: What about a journalistic standpoint of some considered journalists. You had an altercation in the briefing room. Talk about that and what constitutes the press?
Jon Decker: Anyone that calls themselves a journalist is a journalist to a large extent. What's troubling to me, there are individuals covering -- or saying they are covering the white house and instead covering the press corp. To me, that's not what they should be in the white house doing. They should cover the president. It's a fascinating presidency. I think they are missing something when they are not focused on the oval office but focused on the people covering the white house.
Ted Simons: This was in the briefing room. He was invited by the white house. The site itself questionable in some respect. Are these folks -- I have to tell you, a lot of folks are concerned about the idea fake news this way or that way. We don't know what real news is anymore.
Jon Decker: It's up to the white house to decide who they want to bring into the White House. I never question that. I never question anyone's ability or right to be in the press corp. That's not my job. My job is to work for fox news and ask the hard questions of the president regardless of who's there. I think what's important is that the people in the White House are there for the right reasons.
Ted Simons: You talk about covering president Trump and how it's different from previous generation. He's talking about you, truly dishonest, a bad person, you don't care about the country. Do you not take him seriously? He may not be talking to you personally, but he's talking to you.
Jon Decker: It's troubling. My colleagues whether they work for Fox or other news organizations, CSN and CSMBC, I work with them everyday. They are doing a great job following through with the dictates of the first amendment. I don't consider them fake news or fake journalists. They are doing a great job and the president is, I don't know that he specifically means it because the same news organizations that he calls fake or failing, he takes questions from the same news organizations all the time.
Ted Simons: Then how do you cover a president where he says things -- and I heard it argued during the campaign, the media takes everything he says seriously. The public doesn't. That's why the public understood the president better than the media. If you don't take him at his word little this or belittle that. You have to cover this guy. How do you know when he's serious and when he's off the kettle?
Jon Decker: I can't get inside the president's head so i don't know that. I don't think anyone knows that but as a Fox organization we cover everything he tweets, affordable care act, tax reform or personal attacks against senator flake or McConnell or Murkowski. I think we are fair in that respect. We leave it to the audience to make their own determinations of what they consider worthy of additional follow on questions as it relates to the tweets.
Ted Simons: How do you get the follow on questions? If he says the inauguration was and there is evidence it was y, how far do you go?
Jon Decker: At a certain point, you move on. There are things the public is concerned about. It's worthy of asking the questions. We did that with the president and his first secretary Sean Spicer. At a certain point you move on to focus on the things i think the public is most concerned about, the things that affect them on a regular basis, the amount of taxes they pay or healthcare they are receiving. Those are the things regardless of Middle America or in the west; those are the things most are focused on.
Ted Simons: You joined Fox news three years ago. Why?
Jon Decker: It's a great news organization. I love working for an organization that allows different points of view to be expressed. People when they think of Fox news, they think conservative. I get that watching the prime time lineup. What we do during the day is reporting the news and letting the viewers decide what they think is the best way that different policies should be pursued by this administration. I work for Reuters. Completely different. One a news agency, the one a news outlet. They have a different focus. That being said, they do a great job. It's reflective in the ratings, in terms that the numbers in the audience continues to grow.
Ted Simons: They say FOX is a mouthpiece for the Republican Party and right now the Trump administration. How do you respond?
Jon Decker: I think people that want to hear their points of view expressed by the television host like Sean Hannity tune into fox. They know what they'll get. If they want to hear leftists, they turn into MSNBC, Rachel Madoff, for instance.
Jon Decker: What I do is report straight news. If you listen to our newscast and put it up against radio, NPR or CBS radio, you couldn't tell in terms of the content, much of the difference at all. All of us are doing great jobs reporting on this administration. This is a fascinating administration to cover. Never a dull day covering.
Ted Simons: That is for sure. John decker, could to have you here.
Jon Decker: Appreciate it.
Jon Decker, Fox News Radio White House Correspondent