The President and the Press

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Donald Trump takes a question from the press corps at his last news conference as President-elect.

In 1897, when President McKinley was sworn in, there was no working relationship between the office of the U.S. President and the members of the press. McKinley became the first president to allow press briefings, let reporters into the Oval office and harness the power of the newspapers to affect public opinion.

President Woodrow Wilson treated the press like schoolboys and chatted to them while having his morning shave, but his presidency did establish the principle that journalists could routinely question their country’s leader. The first televised press conference was with JFK in 1961 and now they are a key part of any U.S. President's relationship with the people who voted for him, with President Obama widening the meaning of the “press” to include Reddit, Google Hangouts and evening chat shows.

As President-elect Donald Trump prepares to move into The White House, we consider how the presidential relationship with the press will change, given his avowed contempt for aspects of the “Fourth Estate”.

BBC Washington Correspondent Jon Sopel looks at the history of the connection between the U.S. President and the press over more than a hundred years and speculates on how it is set to change.

Listen Saturday, January 21 at 10pm on AM820