Despite Sean Spicer’s great ratings, the White House has moved in recent weeks to cut back on routine press briefings, raising speculation that the president is deliberately making the workings of the government less transparent. “It feels like we’re slowly but surely being dragged into what is a new normal in this country, where the president of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions,” CNN’s Jim Acosta recently said on air.
But in an interview with conservative pundit Laura Ingraham, Spicer offered another reason for holding fewer televised press briefings: those pesky reporters.
“There’s a lot of them that want to become YouTube stars and ask some snarky question that’s been asked eight times,” he told Ingraham. “So there is a bit of snarkiness now with the press because, again, a lot of them are more focused about getting their clip on air than they are of actually taking the time to understand an issue.”
He went on to sing the praises of off-camera press briefings:
The nice thing about turning the cameras off sometimes is that it is not “performance art” … you end up having, I think, a more substantive discussion about actual issues because they’re not trying to get their clip. They’re not trying to figure out, “How do I get on TV? How do I ask some snarky question?”
And while he insisted the Trump administration was “[following] the same practice as past administrations,” he also said that they “made clear, from the beginning, that in a variety of ways we are going to look to do things differently,” which really cleared things up.
So either press briefings have been pared down because Trump is following through on his threats to nix them, or because reporters are too desperate to achieve micro-celebrity — it’s definitely not because, in Steve Bannon’s words, “Sean got fat.”