White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday defended the lack of White House press briefings for reporters in recent months amid speculation that she may end the practice entirely.
Sanders argued on “Fox News Sunday” that President Trump‘s willingness to take questions during meetings with foreign leaders and in other smaller settings makes up for the lack of daily briefings.
“Look, we talk to the press in a number of different ways,” she said. “The day that the briefing was initially created, the atmosphere was incredibly different and you didn’t have the same access and ways to communicate with the American public.”
Pressed on whether on-camera briefings would be discontinued, Sanders said the White House is “going to continue to do that.”
“But I always think if you can hear directly from the president and the press has a chance to ask the president of the United States questions directly, that’s infinitely better than talking to me,” she added. “We try to do that a lot and you’ve seen us do that a lot over the last three weeks, and that’s going to take the place of a press briefing when you can talk to the president of the United States.”
The White House has not held an on-camera briefing for reporters since Sept. 10, meaning as of Monday only one press briefing will have taken place in the entire month of September. None have been held since sexual misconduct allegations surfaced against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
The lone briefing in September reflected a broader pattern of limited briefings in recent months. The White House held five briefings in August, three in July and five in June.
Politico reported on Friday that Sanders has floated the idea of eliminating additional cameras allowed in the briefing room to counter what she views as “grandstanding” by some reporters.
In the face of criticism about accessibility, the White House has noted that Trump has fielded questions from a pool of reporters at various Cabinet meetings, sit-downs with foreign leaders and other events.
However, the pool setting consists of far fewer reporters than the daily briefings, and it allows Trump to choose which questions to respond to, if any.
The president held a rare, lengthy solo press conference at the United Nations General Assembly last week, where he fielded questions about Kavanaugh, his relationship with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and a wide range of other questions.
BY BRETT SAMUELS – 09/30/18