Theatre people know the way to get an audience and garner great reviews is to give free tickets to friends and family who will laugh at every joke and applaud loudly so that unwitting audience members and the press will think they’re seeing the greatest show since “Abie’s Irish Rose.” It’s called papering the house. Sometimes the producers do it just to fill the seats, but more often than not it’s done to create the illusion that they’ve got a hit.
It apparently works for Trump.
U.S. government sources tell CBS News that there is a sense of unease in the intelligence community after President Trump’s visit to CIA headquarters on Saturday.
An official said the visit “made relations with the intelligence community worse” and described the visit as “uncomfortable.”
Authorities are also pushing back against the perception that the CIA workforce was cheering for the president. They say the first three rows in front of the president were largely made up of supporters of Mr. Trump’s campaign.
An official with knowledge of the make-up of the crowd says that there were about 40 people who’d been invited by the Trump, Mike Pence and Rep. Mike Pompeo teams. The Trump team originally expected Rep. Pompeo, R-Kansas, to be sworn in during the event as the next CIA director, but the vote to confirm him was delayed on Friday by Senate Democrats. Also sitting in the first several rows in front of the president was the CIA’s senior leadership, which was not cheering the remarks.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Monday denied that there were “Trump or White House folks” in the first rows.
“There were no Trump or White House folks sitting down. They were all CIA (unintelligible). So, not in rows one-through-anything, from what I’m told.” Spicer said at the White House briefing Monday. He did not address whether Pompeo invitees were in the first rows.
A source who is familiar with the planning of the president’s CIA visit saw Spicer’s briefing, however, and firmly denied Spicer’s response was accurate.
Officials acknowledge that Mr. Trump does have his supporters within the CIA workforce, many of whom were interspersed among the rank and file standing off to the president’s right.
There were about 400 members of the workforce who RSVP’d for the event out of thousands who received an invitation in their email late last week. Officials dismiss White House claims that there were people waiting to get into the event.
Intelligence sources say many in the workforce were stunned and at times offended by the president’s tone which seemed to evolve into a version of speeches he’d used on the campaign trail.
Why in the world would he feel the need to do that? He already has a captive audience. There’s no need to import a cheering section. What did he think they were going to do, throw tomatoes?
By the way, Trump demonized the intelligence community all through his campaign, most recently attacking it for leaking news about his Russian connections. Now that he’s in charge, does he really want to antagonize the people who make it their daily business to take down people through all sorts of clandestine ways?