On Tuesday, Vice President Mike Pence held a press briefing about the growing threat of the coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, in the United States. However, unlike past press briefings, members of the media were not allowed to record video or audio, resulting in questions about why the White House was seemingly turning back on its promise to be “aggressively transparent” about the epidemic.
According to HuffPost, journalists present at the meeting were allowed to take photographs, but they were not allowed to record Pence and other official statements via video cameras.
Jim Acosta, a reporter for CNN, said that he asked Pence why the media wasn’t allowed to film.
“I asked Pence why the Coronavirus briefing is off-camera today. He said he believes the briefing will be back on cam tomorrow,” Acosta said, adding that “the closest thing to an explanation we got [was] when Pence said Trump was on camera a bunch today.”
Pete Souza, a former White House photographer, said that he “can’t ever remember a time when a VP or POTUS spoke in the White House press briefing room and video/audio was prohibited.”
Former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics Walter Shaub weighed in, saying that the move appeared to confirm the chaotic and ill-prepared response to the virus within the White House.
“It’s like they’re imploding,” he said.
We need transparency.
Instead we are getting this. https://t.co/0z6yXdodE0
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 3, 2020
Historian and author Kevin M. Kruse tweeted that the move appeared to be aimed at creating a photo op rather than conveying information.
“So the purpose of the briefing isn’t to communicate vital information to the public, but just to serve as a photo op? Awesome,” he wrote.
— Rep. Harley Rouda (@RepHarley) March 3, 2020
Trump and his administration have faced intense scrutiny for what critics say has been an inappropriate response to the epidemic.
Initially, the president sought to downplay the seriousness of the virus, suggesting repeatedly that it would go away when the weather got warmer and that it would not spread within the United States.
One Harvard expert said that the White House response has been far more incompetent than anyone believed it would be, as The Inquisitr previously reported.
According to Harvard epidemiologist Dr. Michael Mina, the roll-out for testing for the virus within the country was badly botched and a bottleneck in testing has likely meant that the unchecked virus has been spreading for weeks.
Trump’s decision to appoint Pence to lead the response was also met with criticism. Many people stated that a climate science denier who doesn’t believe in the theory of evolution shouldn’t be leading a team that relies heavily on scientific evidence.