The Pentagon’s press briefing room once held regular events to update the public about military operations and national security threats, with presidential administration members taking questions from the press.
Now, the room has been opened only twice in the last year — once for a conference held by actor Gerard Butler, and the other for an event with Gene Simmons of KISS.
As The Washington Post noted, this week marks the one-year mark since the Trump administration has last held a press conference in the Pentagon briefing room. The report noted that for years, there had been weekly televised briefings presented by a deputy press secretary, but recently, there’s been a trend across the Trump administration to cut back on all interaction with the media.
The decline comes as the military faces growing threats from China, Russia, and Iran, the report noted, underscoring the frustration from members of the press and the public about a lack of transparency.
Adding to that frustration is the fact that the Pentagon press briefing room has been twice used to promote different programs. Last month, KISS singer Gene Simmons appeared to promote a Pentagon initiative that seeks to engage wider audiences for military activities.
As CNN reported, the event was seen as a reflection of the White House’s pullback from media engagements — a campaign to promote engagement with the general public in a room where that engagement had been cut off.
“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.
“No combatant commanders have answered questions from the Pentagon press corps, nor have the uniformed or civilian military service leaders.” https://t.co/qFUKgmYsfF— blmohr (@blmohr) May 31, 2019
The only other time the Pentagon press briefing room had been used in the last year was in October when actor Gerard Butler took to the podium to promote an upcoming movie.
The Trump administration has been criticized for pulling back on daily press briefings as well, with many reporters calling out the White House for it. White House correspondent Maegan Vasquez even shared a picture on Twitter, showing that the podium where Sarah Huckabee Sanders used to take 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 off the podium, though Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders did not appear to speak to the press.