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 1:03 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.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

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Confirmed Cases: 118322

Reported Deaths: 3591
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion21502767
Lake10688323
Elkhart6707111
St. Joseph6619113
Allen6330205
Hamilton4938109
Vanderburgh378131
Hendricks2766124
Monroe265536
Tippecanoe256613
Johnson2352124
Clark225957
Porter219947
Delaware200162
Cass19559
Vigo186827
Madison170375
LaPorte149141
Floyd139664
Warrick138242
Howard132663
Kosciusko125917
Bartholomew118457
Marshall101524
Dubois99919
Boone99146
Grant95134
Hancock94643
Noble93132
Henry81226
Jackson7739
Wayne77014
Morgan73438
Daviess68028
Shelby68029
Dearborn67528
LaGrange64011
Clinton62314
Harrison59224
Putnam58411
Gibson5355
Knox5289
Lawrence51629
Montgomery51121
DeKalb48811
White48714
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Miami4394
Greene42735
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Scott39011
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Sullivan33812
Jennings31612
Franklin31325
Clay3085
Ripley3078
Orange28824
Whitley2826
Carroll27813
Adams2763
Wabash2728
Starke2717
Washington2701
Wells2674
Spencer2633
Jefferson2503
Huntington2473
Fulton2442
Tipton22822
Randolph2238
Perry22113
Jay1920
Newton17411
Owen1711
Martin1680
Pike1641
Rush1574
Vermillion1310
Fountain1292
Blackford1213
Pulaski1141
Crawford1100
Parke1072
Brown1043
Benton870
Ohio797
Union790
Switzerland690
Warren411
Unassigned0226

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 151802

Reported Deaths: 4746
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin27119607
Cuyahoga17554656
Hamilton13237315
Montgomery7938164
Lucas7343364
Butler6085111
Summit5366252
Warren311549
Marion311147
Mahoning3095281
Stark2913175
Pickaway267944
Lorain233386
Delaware230621
Fairfield213253
Licking194963
Columbiana194080
Wood192172
Trumbull1916132
Clark183940
Clermont174423
Lake164851
Greene149034
Medina147539
Miami146351
Allen146269
Portage116866
Mercer113218
Erie95947
Tuscarawas94120
Wayne94068
Richland92219
Ross89624
Madison84312
Darke80643
Geauga72649
Athens7242
Belmont72427
Hancock72010
Lawrence67122
Ashtabula66048
Shelby66010
Putnam61923
Auglaize6119
Sandusky58020
Huron5557
Union5512
Scioto5167
Seneca48814
Ottawa47130
Preble44515
Muskingum4383
Holmes3959
Jefferson3384
Henry33414
Defiance33012
Champaign3133
Logan3133
Clinton30213
Perry3009
Brown2922
Knox28815
Washington26223
Jackson2616
Morrow2612
Fulton2591
Hardin25713
Crawford2476
Ashland2464
Coshocton23411
Fayette2336
Highland2303
Williams2143
Wyandot21312
Pike2020
Gallia19613
Meigs17610
Guernsey1738
Hocking1679
Carroll1527
Adams1364
Van Wert1243
Monroe11018
Paulding1100
Harrison643
Morgan500
Vinton473
Noble340
Unassigned00
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