Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hasn’t held a single White House press briefing in 2019
President Trump spoke up on Twitter this morning to explain why the White House hasn’t held a press briefing since December 18, 2018 – the longest stretch of time without a press briefing in American history. He said that Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders hadn’t stepped up to the podium in over a month because the press treats her rudely and that coverage that follows the briefings is “inaccurate.”
He said, “I told her not to bother.”
“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” the president said, in a tweet of course. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley told Fox News on Tuesday morning that Sanders would head back to the podium “when she finds a reason to do that,” and Trump’s tweet seems to be a response to Gidley’s statement, correcting and expanding on it.
Some reports say that Trump was annoyed that Gidley didn’t directly blame the media for the lack of press briefings.
This is the 34th day in a row without a press briefing. In the last four months, there have only been four – despite a huge number of large-breaking national news stories coming out of the White House and Washington, DC.
In contrast, the Obama Administration had a press briefing almost every day. During the 2013 government shutdown, Obama’s Press Secretary, Jay Carney, held ten daily press briefings, in addition to press conferences with Obama himself.
The last time a press briefing was held was in mid-December, days before the partial government shutdown began. Since then, Sanders has been occasionally and informally talking to the press outside of the White House – a practice that President Trump also engages in regularly when he’s leaving or returning to the White House, in addition to his very regular statements to the public over Twitter.
According to ABC News, Sanders has also been taking questions off-camera outside of her office in the West Wing, where reporters now crowd to try to gather information.
The American Presidency Project shared data about Sanders and her press briefings in comparison to past Press Secretaries. Sanders not only has had the least number of briefings over time, she also has some of the shortest with fewest questions (and some of the ones with the most contentious exchanges). Her press conferences also include the least amount of applause and laughter.
As ABC News correspondent Karen Travers pointed out on Twitter in response to Trump’s statement, the White House seems to be moving toward talking to traditionally conservative Fox News directly instead of talking to the press in general – just this morning, three White House officials spoke with Fox about big news stories, leaving other networks without information, and leaving press briefings to the wayside.
This is just the latest strategy that Trump’s using to fight what he calls “fake news,” which seems to be any coverage of his presidency that isn’t flattering. He has spoken out dozens, if not hundreds of times, in the past about how his disdain for coverage from the majority of national media outlets, particularly CNN, The New York Times, and MSNBC. In November, he went as far as barring CNN reporter Jim Acosta from the White House after shouting at him during a rare and bizarre press conference.