The vanishing White House press briefing

The "daily" White House press briefing is a thing of the past.The White House has only held three on-camera br...

Posted: Jul 19, 2018 12:03 AM

The "daily" White House press briefing is a thing of the past.

The White House has only held three on-camera briefings in the past 30 days, according to the administration's own records on WhiteHouse.gov.

Press secretary Sarah Sanders' most recent briefing was on July 2, more than two weeks ago.

Since that time, EPA administrator Scott Pruitt has resigned; Bill Shine has started working as Trump's new communications chief; Trump has nominated a new Supreme Court justice; he has assailed America's alliances and sidled up to Russian president Vladimir Putin; and the administration has struggled to reunite parents and children who were separated at the southern border.

In other words: There's a lot for the press corps to ask about.

Sanders did not respond to a request for comment about the press briefing drought.

But there will be a briefing on Wednesday. Not long after this story was originally published, the White House added a 2 p.m. briefing to the schedule. While Sanders tangles with the press, Trump will sit down with CBS' Jeff Glor for an interview that will air on the network's "Evening News" broadcast Wednesday night.

Related: Trump finds few defenders as news media covers his 'betrayal'

The lack of a briefing was especially glaring on Tuesday, when Trump and his aides returned from a long trip to Europe. Journalists were clamoring to ask about Trump's widely criticized treatment of Putin. But no briefing was held, and Trump did not take any questions during an attempt to clean up his pro-Russia remarks from the day before.

The pros and cons of the briefing format have been debated endlessly. (I'm not going to rehash it all here!)

Suffice it to say, press briefings matter for both symbolic and practical reasons. Symbolically, televised briefings show that the White House is open for business and willing to answer questions. And on a practical level, briefings are an efficient way for the administration to address a numerous topics and engage with a wide variety of news outlets.

In practice, it doesn't always work. Deflections and downright laughable spin have been staples of White House briefings for decades. But past administrations held the briefings more often than Trump's White House has.

Beat reporters say several things have changed in the briefing room in the Trump age. The briefings take place less frequently; they tend to be short; and relatively uninformative.

In private, some members of the press corps call Sanders' briefings "useless," citing her evasive responses and combative stance. But they still care about the existence of the briefing. The sessions should be a chance to glean accurate information, challenge government stonewalling, and hold elected officials accountable.

So why the drought right now? Well in some ways it's a continuation of a trend that Chris Cillizza observed in May. He said the White House is "increasingly disinterested in answering questions from reporters in any sort of structured environment."

Related: Trump ratchets up 'fake news' rally cry overseas

The press briefing schedule bears that out.

In the past 30 days, there were briefings on June 18; June 25; and July 2. In between, there were also a few off-camera "gaggles," typically aboard Air Force One.

Trump has had a busy travel schedule, and that's always a factor when counting the number of briefings.

And he has held several news conferences, both formal and informal, in recent weeks. But that fact doesn't preclude the White House from holding regular briefings.

Shine's arrival may be a factor as well. His appointment as deputy chief of staff for communications was announced on July 5. He may have brought a new point of view about the value of briefings.

But the biggest factor is probably the one that's visible to everyone: The White House is in a constant state of crisis. Trump routinely contradicts himself, distorts the truth and sparks world-rattling controversies. Sometimes he undercuts in tweets the things that Sanders says at her briefings. And his frequent cries of "fake news" are evidence that he doesn't care about the work the press does to inform the public.

With that as the backdrop, the briefing is becoming so brief that it's almost nonexistent.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95310

Reported Deaths: 2874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7032159
DeSoto547759
Harrison380573
Jackson343069
Madison323386
Rankin322577
Lee265468
Jones245279
Forrest242571
Washington219772
Lafayette213739
Lauderdale2038125
Bolivar181366
Oktibbeha176350
Lamar165534
Neshoba1556104
Panola145527
Lowndes144958
Sunflower143946
Warren138450
Leflore138381
Pontotoc124916
Pike122450
Monroe120768
Scott117126
Copiah116633
Coahoma114428
Holmes109558
Marshall108516
Lincoln107553
Grenada107236
Yazoo104630
Simpson101844
Union98824
Tate96237
Leake94638
Adams92637
Wayne88821
Pearl River87053
Marion84535
Prentiss83417
Covington81322
Itawamba78721
Alcorn78611
Newton76723
Tallahatchie76421
George75913
Winston73519
Chickasaw66724
Tishomingo66738
Tippah65417
Attala65325
Walthall59525
Clay58518
Hancock57221
Clarke57045
Jasper56215
Noxubee54616
Smith52914
Calhoun50812
Tunica48213
Claiborne45916
Montgomery45820
Lawrence42912
Yalobusha42314
Perry41618
Humphreys37515
Quitman3735
Stone36512
Greene35917
Jefferson Davis33511
Webster33313
Amite32110
Carroll31412
Wilkinson30218
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2232
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19306349
Mobile13233291
Montgomery8748177
Madison770978
Tuscaloosa7418116
Lee579261
Shelby578750
Baldwin514149
Marshall389244
Etowah340247
Calhoun340140
Morgan323926
Houston276423
Elmore259647
DeKalb237519
St. Clair226337
Walker225383
Talladega210628
Limestone203319
Cullman186818
Dallas175926
Franklin175229
Russell17322
Autauga171525
Lauderdale167333
Colbert162926
Blount158015
Escambia157725
Jackson154011
Chilton152431
Dale134644
Covington133427
Coffee12988
Pike11799
Chambers114442
Tallapoosa113885
Clarke107017
Marion95429
Butler91139
Barbour8517
Winston71812
Marengo70519
Lowndes65227
Pickens64514
Bibb63810
Randolph62713
Hale61928
Lawrence60522
Bullock59714
Geneva5864
Cherokee58315
Monroe5808
Clay5547
Washington55113
Perry5396
Conecuh53011
Wilcox53011
Crenshaw52732
Henry4835
Macon47920
Fayette4358
Sumter43219
Lamar3572
Choctaw34412
Cleburne3356
Greene30315
Coosa1673
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