White House Correspondents' Association on off-camera briefings: 'We are not satisfied with the current state-of-play'

The president of the White House Correspondents’ Association on Friday urged the Trump administration to stop holding off-camera gaggles as a substitute for on-camera press briefings, the group said in a statement Friday.

“We are not satisfied with the current state-of-play, and we will work hard to change it,” said the association’s president, Jeff Mason.

“We believe strongly that Americans should be able to watch and listen to senior government officials face questions from an independent news media, in keeping with the principles of the First Amendment and the need for transparency at the highest levels of government,” he said.

In recent days, press secretary Sean Spicer and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders have barred reporters from broadcasting video and audio from the media briefings and limited the amount of time reporters have been given to ask questions.

Reporters have criticised the practice as being evasive and hostile, but Spicer has defended the off-camera briefings, saying that on certain days “the president’s voice should be the one that speaks and iterate his priorities.”

In his statement, Mason said he discussed the association’s concerns with Spicer and Sanders, who agreed to consider them.

“The WHCA Board represents a diverse set of interests inside the press corps, including journalists who need video and sound to tell Americans what the government is doing in their name,” Mason said.

He added: “Gaggles are not a substitute for the open back-and-forth between reporters and administration officials that regular televised briefings allow.”

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