Let’s face it — the Trump administration is over holding White House press briefings. The press secretary and the communications team has delegated out the job of answering questions from the reporters covering the White House to the president himself.
It’s President Trump’s idea, to be sure, to be his own spokesman. It’s not even a bad idea for him to do so. Those most upset are the reporters themselves. The typical American isn’t keeping up with daily press briefings at the White House, as used to be the routine, because they have lives of their own to attend to.
Monday, during an appearance on Fox and Friends, White House Press Secretary and communications director Stephanie Grisham was asked by co-host Brian Kilmeade if she would be holding regular press briefings again. Nah, not so much, as essentially her answer.
“Not right now,” Grisham told the hosts of “Fox & Friends,” when asked whether the White House will resume its daily press briefing, a longstanding practice under President Donald Trump’s predecessors.
“I mean, ultimately, if the president decides that it’s something we should do, we can do that, but right now he’s doing just fine,” she continued. “And to be honest, the briefings have become a lot of theater. And I think that a lot of reporters were doing it to get famous. I mean, yeah, they’re writing books now. I mean, they’re all getting famous off of this presidency. And so, I think it’s great what we’re doing now.”
Fair enough, actually. I regularly watched the briefings and since the Trump administration came into office, the tone has been one not seen before. There has always been friction between presidents and reporters but the vitriol is at an all-time high. Few reporters view Trump and members of his administration favorably. It’s been a race to the bottom for most reporters. They no longer even pretend to mask their own political opinions.
The previous Trump press secretaries were beat up regularly during the daily (or semi-daily) briefings. Some take pleasure in being rude and confrontational because it guarantees a sound bite or video clip on their networks later in the day. Grisham said the president didn’t like seeing how Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee-Sanders were treated by the press. She said Trump stopped the briefings.
Grisham also suggested that reporters’ criticisms of the president’s previous press secretaries, Sean Spicer and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, played a role in Trump’s decision to discontinue the briefings.
“I think that it’s so important that, you know, the spokesperson for the president can adequately speak to his policies and get his message out there, and I think the president saw that that’s not what was happening,” she said. “It had become, again, theater, and they weren’t being good to his people. And he doesn’t like that. He’s very loyal to his people, and he put a stop to it.”
I agree that Trump is his own best spokesman. He may be unconventional in his message delivery but Americans respond to it. He relies on Twitter to spread his messages and his tweets are seen by more people than the press briefings. Trump always stops and answers questions from the White House press pool when he goes to board Marine One at the White House. It isn’t unusual for him to stand and answer questions for as long as 15 or 20 minutes. Past presidents never gave the press that kind of accessibility. Isn’t an answer coming for the president himself better than from a third party?
Grisham hasn’t held a press briefing on camera yet. Her appearance on Fox and Friends was her first in her new job. She did weigh in on the ongoing Ukraine story. We’ve gone from Russia, Russia, Russia to Ukraine, Ukraine, Ukraine.
“The president made it very clear he did absolutely nothing wrong. This is just another reason for Democrats and for the media to attack and look for things that just aren’t there,” she said.
Perhaps Grisham will be the first White House press secretary to completely do away with on-camera briefings. Reporters trying to become celebrities will have to take another avenue to capture attention for book deals and late-night show guest interviews.