Sarah Huckabee Sanders Defends Dwindling Number Of White House Press Briefings

Sarah Huckabee Sanders
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

The White House seems to be holding fewer and fewer press conferences these days, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders defended the practice, The Hill reports. Sanders appeared on Fox News Sunday and argued that the press briefings are not really needed these days. She said that since President Trump is willing and open to questions during other interviews, the press doesn’t need to be briefed on a regular basis.

“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.”

Typically, most presidents provide the press corps with almost daily briefings. This is in part politically motivated, to keep their agenda top of mind in the public eye. But it also fosters an atmosphere of transparency, as reporters get to hear from the president daily. Now, Sanders said, we may not have a press briefing for at least three weeks.

Sanders did confirm that there will continue to be on-camera press briefings from the White House featuring herself at the podium. Many were afraid those would be canceled altogether.

“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.”

Sanders at a press conference on White House grounds Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Sanders was referring to other interviews or sit-downs the president does with foreign leaders and other smaller interview settings. Only one press briefing has been held thus far in September, and that was on September 10. No briefings have been held since sexual misconduct allegations were raised about Supreme Court Justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Some have criticized accessibility, since the smaller meetings Sanders referred to do not allow all reporters, and Trump does not have to answer all questions. These seem like cherry-picking situations, where Trump picks reporters who will show him in a forgiving light. Sanders has apparently also considered the idea of having fewer cameras in the briefings. She said they cause some reporters to grandstand during the press briefings, though she did not name specific examples.