For months, the podium at the Pentagon Briefing Room sat empty as the Trump administration pulled back from offering updates to reporters about military and security operations. However, that all changed on Friday.
For the first time since October, someone walked up to the podium to answer questions from reporters — and it was Gene Simmons, the lead singer of KISS. The legendary rocker was in Washington, D.C., to promote a Pentagon initiative, one seeking to engage with wider audiences for military activities. As CNN reported, Simmons also had a visit to the White House earlier in the day, and later spoke about the program.
As CNN reported, the Trump administration has stripped back access for the media, ending the practice of regular press briefings — and closing off areas of the administration that had previously been open for reporting under past presidents.
“It’s just the latest sign of the Trump administration’s ongoing marginalization of the press briefing, long a conduit through which the president and the cabinet have communicated policies and priorities to the news media and the public,” the report noted.
The trend has been even more striking in regard to daily press briefings, which have become nearly non-existent in recent months. CNN even took to shaming the White House, with White House correspondent Maegan Vasquez noting on Twitter that the podium where Sarah Huckabee Sanders took questions from the public was literally gathering dust during her long absence.
As Fox News reports, the message was received at the White House. Someone was dispatched to dust the podium. However, Sanders was not called upon to deliver a daily press briefing.
There still isn’t a White House press briefing scheduled.
But today, some of our press corps colleagues noticed someone came in and dusted the lectern in the briefing room.
Our sinuses may be spared, but we still have questions we’d like the WH to answer.
Before and after: pic.twitter.com/3yg2ahrjpg
— Maegan Vazquez (@maeganvaz) May 17, 2019
Sanders has not taken questions since March 11, a briefing that CNN noted was contentious. At the time, reporters questioned why the White House was blocking access to the press.
“I know the president is the most accessible president in modern history,” Sanders answered. “He takes questions from you guys nearly every single day.”
But by that point, press briefings were not being held daily, and often long stretches passed without any communication from the Trump administration to the media.
Trump himself sounded off, saying on Twitter that he instructed Sanders to stop holding briefings because she was covered “rudely & inaccurately.”
The remarks on Friday from Gene Simmons marked the first time since October that anyone has used the press briefing room to deliver remarks. The last one before Simmons? Actor Gerard Butler, who was promoting a movie.