Green Room

Should we cancel the White House press briefings?

posted at 7:53 am on July 26, 2013 by

I’m on vacation and I promise to go away after this, but I wanted to highlight this column from Yahoo News correspondent Olivier Knox on why the White House press briefings should continue — terrible though they may be.  Olivier, a friend of mine, writes that canceling the briefings would send a very bad message about accountability for an administration that has already tried to lock the press out of most of its activities (one time even keeping the press out of a presentation of a transparency award for Barack Obama).  There is value in forcing the White House press secretary to dodge questions in public:

Does America really need a semi-official press? The Obama White House already likes to restrictcoverageof newsworthyevents to its official photographer, excluding news photographers who might be less concerned with getting the president’s good side and more worried about, um, news. (Instead, these talented journalists worry more about their future. It’s as though the White House saw the media’s self-inflicted wounds and reached for the anti-coagulant.)

At its best, the briefing can have a leveling effect: A reporter from an outlet that isn’t among The Chosen but might be called upon at the briefing benefits from asking their question in a public, televised setting. That means everyone will see the press secretary answering, replying, dodging, etc. For some reporters, who can’t even get their emails returned, this is a priceless opportunity. There’s also a chance that one of the Big Outlet Reporters who dominate the briefings will pick up the question, increasing the leverage necessary to pry an answer out of the White House (any White House).

It also gives reporters a rare chance to set the agenda. Yes, of course the White House would prefer to talk about the president’s great and entirely genuine affection for middle-class Americans in Ohio. But what’s he doing about the mounting death toll in Syria?

A current senior White House aide (who didn’t want to be identified) and a communications adviser in George W. Bush’s White House told Yahoo News that the briefing also serves the symbolic but crucial function of showing Americans that no one is above being questioned. The two sources independently said cancelling the briefing would “send a terrible message.”

Read the whole thing, because Olivier’s essay makes it clear that while the problem is the current administration, reporters can and should do more to force the White House into being more responsive.  He offers a funny and cutting anecdote at the end to underscore the point.

Now, I’m on vacation. The only reporting I’m going to be doing until August 5th will be the breaking news of the natural beauty of Alaska and Canada.

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Comments

Enjoy! Am on vacation myself.

No more press briefings is just another step down that dark road.

rbj on July 26, 2013 at 8:14 AM

Obama wants a totally controlled media and so far a non-cog has sneaked in occasionally. If they’re stopped, all reporters will be cogs in the left’s well oiled* machine.

*with our tax dollars.

erp on July 26, 2013 at 8:18 AM

Enjoy the vacay

Well the press corps does need its talking points

cmsinaz on July 26, 2013 at 8:30 AM

Should we cancel the White House press briefings?

And, bring back the White House tours?

Happy Vacay!

Fallon on July 26, 2013 at 8:37 AM

…have a nice break!…R E L A X !
.
.
.
…some day…maybe journalists will become journalists again…instead of drones.

KOOLAID2 on July 26, 2013 at 8:44 AM

Well, yes, we should cancel the briefings.

After all, what value could their possibly be in having the Executive branch respond to questions from the media? It would be much better to just reprint whatever they tell us.

In fact, why stop there? Why not have the Executive Branch nationalize the press? Then they can just skip the silly back and forth completely, and make sure we get exactly the message they want us to hear.

#headdesk

Chris of Rights on July 26, 2013 at 8:57 AM

In fact, why stop there? Why not have the Executive Branch nationalize the press? Then they can just skip the silly back and forth completely, and make sure we get exactly the message they want us to hear.

#headdesk

Chris of Rights on July 26, 2013 at 8:57 AM

Except for Fox News, we’re already there.

Steve Eggleston on July 26, 2013 at 9:01 AM

…some day…maybe journalists will become journalists again…instead of drones.

KOOLAID2 on July 26, 2013 at 8:44 AM

That will happen the moment a non-Communist takes the Presidential oath of office and not a second sooner.

Steve Eggleston on July 26, 2013 at 9:02 AM

Why should Dear Leader have to explain himself to us plebes?

CurtZHP on July 26, 2013 at 9:07 AM

So the three reasons offered why we are continuing this are:

1) Getting a pat on the back for second attempts at getting information that wasn’t granted to them the first time around
2) Allowing unelected individuals the opportunity to dictate what the government needs to address
3) Maintaining a false appearance of accountability

blammm on July 26, 2013 at 10:09 AM

Are suits a thing of the past?

Bmore on July 26, 2013 at 10:42 AM

Even when they have press conferences they never grill him. Its all ” tell us how you maintain your awesomeness when all these nasty Republicans are attacking you all the time?” kind of questions. The MSM has already shown us what they are, Obama’s bu– boys. At this point stop the pretense of journalism and just print Dem talking points on page 1 above the fold. The mask is off and we know who these guys are.

neyney on July 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM

No. We need to bring in non lap dogs who will ask hard hitting questions. Then let the WH cancel the press briefings and let the world see it.

Kataklysmic on July 26, 2013 at 1:46 PM

Why stop broadcasting the best side show of this administration? It’s classic disfunction at a professional level that’s highly educational to anyone wanting evidence on why there’s nothing accomplished by this bunch of recalcitrant juveniles.

Cybergeezer on July 26, 2013 at 5:15 PM

At this point stop the pretense of journalism and just print Dem talking points on page 1 above the fold. The mask is off and we know who these guys are.

neyney on July 26, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Consider it cosplay. Liberals dressing up as these mythical creatures that never actually existed.

squint on July 26, 2013 at 7:44 PM

Please do not cancell the White House Press Briefings, I would hate to see more Comcast writers laid off!

duncantwn on July 27, 2013 at 4:28 AM

Not really sure what the purpose of the press briefing is other than to provide employment to Jay Carney, so, yes, do away with it.

JR on July 27, 2013 at 12:53 PM

Watching the WH Press Secretary squirm and make up ridiculous stuff and change his story every other day is educational in itself. Of course, when he is forced into those circumstances the MSM makes sure no one sees it if the President comes with the letter “D” after his name. But even so every little bit helps.

Fred 2 on July 28, 2013 at 5:03 PM