White House press secretary Sean Spicer on Sunday dismissed criticism of the Trump administration’s increasing lack of on-camera press briefings.
Asked about CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s criticism of the reduced number of daily televised press briefings, Spicer told Fox News that the White House was holding hand-recorded or audio-only briefings because some reporters weren’t seeking information during briefings.
“I think some of these reporters are more interested in their YouTube clips than than they are in getting factual news,” Spicer said. “Look at the number of questions that get asked over and over again just so a reporter can get a clip of themselves saying something or yelling at someone.”
Spicer argued that while cameras are “fine,” the White House felt that briefings could be more policy-focused if they were held off-camera, allowing reporters to take written notes or record audio only.
“The briefing is one small part of what this extensive staff does to engage the media,” Spicer said.
Many media pundits and White House reporters themselves slammed the White House communications department for avoiding the daily televised press briefings, which yielded illuminating and occasionally embarrassing information about President Donald Trump and his administration. Melissa McCarthy has also mocked Spicer’s intensity in multiple “SNL” skits, further popularising the briefings.
“We believe strongly that Americans should be able to watch and listen to senior government officials face questions from an independent news media,” Jeff Mason, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, wrote in a memo on Friday. “We are not satisfied with the current state of play, and we will work hard to change it.”
Fox News’ Howard Kurtz singled out Acosta, who he said had “gone on a campaign” supporting televised briefings.
The lack of televised press briefings represents a complete reversal of the White House’s previous attitude toward briefings.
Earlier this year, Trump initially favoured keeping the televised briefings, noting how highly rated Spicer’s midday appearances were.
But in recent weeks, he has suggested he may do away with them altogether.
“Just don’t have them,” Trump told Fox News in May. “Unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself, we don’t have them. I think it’s a good idea.”
Watch the clip via Fox News:
I’m off today but it must be said that YOUR White House is taking away YOUR right to see and hear YOUR government answer questions today
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 22, 2017
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