A bunker, for those of you who missed World War Two, is a concrete and metal reinforced shelter, mostly underground, where troops can crouch and protect themselves from bombs or incoming artillery fire. In modern times, every Presidential Administration has had a complex relationship with the press, and more broadly, with the world outside the White House. On the one hand, the White House crew want to use the press to put out their positive, rosy message about the wonderful things they are doing for the American people, so the person charged with dealing daily with the Press, the White House Press Spokesperson, cultivates a personal relationship with the reporters regularly assigned to the White House, favoring them with inside tips, learning their names, joking with them, and wooing them in an effort to extract from them favorable coverage. On the other hand, even the tamest of reporters has shark DNA, and circles for the kill if there is blood in the water. When things are going smoothly for an Administration, a skilled Press Spokesperson balances these forces reasonably well, but when really bad things are going down, the White House loyalists form a protective circle around the President like African buffalo threatened by a pride of lions. They are then said to be “in the bunker.” The Johnson White House, as the Viet Nam War went bad, was in the bunker. So was the Nixon White House during Watergate.
Yesterday, the newly appointed Press Spokesman, Sean Spicer, met the White House Press Corps for the first time, barely more than twenty-four hours after Donald Trump took the oath of office. Did he walk in smiling, greet those reporters he knew by name, make a few jokes, lighten the mood, and generally do everything he could to gain the best possible press for his boss and the new Administration? Fat chance. He stalked in, read a prepared speech accusing the people in front of him of lying, warned them that he would be targeting them for attack, and stalked out.
One day, and the Trump White House is in the bunker.