Presidency: Getting back to briefings
Presidents of the United States are big news, whether they want to be or not. President Donald Trump is a more riveting story than many of his predecessors.
Yet Trump has broken with the tradition, established in recent years, of regular press briefings at the White House. Reportedly, he told Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders in December that she did not have bother with the regular gatherings of journalists. She held one Monday, telling journalists she “missed you guys.” The last daily briefing before that was Dec.18.
Trump’s relationship with the press has been exceedingly rocky. He has accused many in the media of spreading “fake news.”
White House press conferences are used by some in attendance not to get the answers to questions but rather, as a national stage on which they can burnish their credentials as Trump’s critics. One can understand why both the president and his press secretary sometimes grow frustrated.
But many in the room at White House press conferences are working hard to do their jobs as journalists, to get answers to reasonable questions and report them.
Those who read and listen to reports from journalists doing their best to be objective and professional suffer from lack of access to regular White House briefings.
So does the president. He could write the textbook on use of social media to communicate with his supporters, but he has an obligation to the public at large, too. And, of course, the briefings can be utilized as a means of getting Trump’s side of various stories out.
Trump should reconsider and tell Sanders to resume holding the regular press briefings. There is no substitute for them from both his standpoint and that of the public.