Over the course of President Donald Trump’s tenure in office the White House has shifted away from the tradition of a formal daily briefing held by the press secretary in favor of frequent, but more informal press gaggles held by the president himself, a practice many in the media have decried, despite the unprecedented access they have received.
Based on comments from White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham on Monday, the reporters will have to continue to grumble, because the administration has no immediate plans to return to the more formal setting of the press briefing room.
No plans to resume formal daily press briefings
Grisham’s remarks came during an appearance Monday morning on Fox & Friends where the president’s tendency to hold informal “helicopter pressers” came up for discussion.
“He’s his own best spokesperson, it’s true,” Grisham said in response to a common refrain that Trump doesn’t really need a spokesperson. “And also, he’s the most accessible president in history, as all of the media knows. I mean, even just yesterday he gaggled, I believe, two or three times with the press.”
Asked if the informal gaggles had become the “new press briefing,” or if the White House would return to the old formal affair behind a podium in the briefing room, Grisham replied, “Not right now. Ultimately, if the president decides that it’s something we should do, we can do that. But right now, he’s doing just fine.”
“And to be honest, the briefings had become a lot of theater, and I think that a lot of reporters were doing it to get famous,” she continued. “They’re writing books now. I mean, they’re all getting famous off of this presidency, and so I think it’s great what we are doing now.”
Asked how the president had reacted to the horrible way in which the media had treated his earlier press secretaries — Sean Spicer and Sarah Sanders — Grisham suggested that the media mistreatment prevented them from adequately performing their jobs as the president’s spokesperson and noted that Trump had not liked what he had seen, “so he put a stop to it.”
Reporters remain frustrated
Axios reported that it has now been roughly six months since the last formal briefing was held by a press secretary inside the White House, seemingly bringing to an end a near-daily tradition that largely took root during the Clinton administration.
The media outlet further pointed out that, while Grisham was correct that Trump is the most accessible president in American history, his critics in the media have still complained about the informal press conferences because they have been deemed “insufficient” for fostering a robust exchange between reporters and the commander in chief.
In truth, the reporters are simply irritated that they are no longer the center of attention.
They have lost the ability to steal the spotlight for themselves while attempting to manufacture viral “gotcha” moments and procure their 15 minutes of fame, something to which Grisham alluded during her Fox News appearance.
But that right there is precisely why the formal daily briefings are no longer a thing, and hopefully Trump will continue to provide unprecendented access to the media on his own terms going forward.