Over the past two weeks, the White House communications team has significantly scaled back televised press briefings. The rationale for doing that is strong, as many in the media use the briefing to increase their fame, by asking “gotcha,” instead of substantive, questions. A key point being made by reporters like Jim Acosta of CNN is that it is bad for transparency. That’s not necessarily the case, as a quick glance over at WhiteHouse.gov shows.
Regardless of whether or not a press availability is televised, the transcript of those briefings is posted for everyone to see. If the Trump administration were trying to hide things, why would it put up a transcript of the briefings and press gaggles?
Here are links to transcripts of briefings and or gaggles over the past week or so.
June 26, 2017 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 6/26/2017
June 23, 2017 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 6/23/2017, #56
June 22, 2017 – Press Gaggle by Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders
June 20, 2017 – Press Briefing by Press Secretary Sean Spicer — #55
June 19, 2017 – Press Gaggle by Press Secretary Sean Spicer, 6/19/2017
On June 15, 2017 they even posted a “background briefing” on the president’s Cuba policy. That doesn’t sound, or look, like an administration trying to hide from the American people to me.
What it looks like is a smart policy to stop folks like Acosta from monopolizing the press briefing in an attempt to “trap” people trying to do their jobs. The information the press wants is still being disseminated, the administration is still answering questions. Despite Acosta’s claims, it is not an abridgment of the freedom of the press.
Acosta is nothing if not relentless. Here’s a tweet from Tuesday, after the first televised briefing of the week.
Does this feel like America? Where the White House takes q’s from conservatives, then openly trashes the news media in the briefing room.
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 27, 2017
“Does it feel like America?” Who writes that? Jim, remind us was it this administration that put a filmmaker in jail after a terrorist attack he had nothing to do with? Was it this administration that threatened reporters with jail time? Was it this administration that investigated reporters? Yes the fact that you are in a room, getting questions answered by the representatives of the leader of the free world, is America.
Reporters like Acosta need to realize their job is to report the news, not be the news. When they understand that, maybe then the regular briefings will resume.
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Robert Eno is the director of research for Conservative Review. He is a conservative from deep blue Massachusetts but now lives in Greenville, SC.