Saying the White House is not a privately held company, Common Cause has called on spokesman Sean Spicer to return to the custom of holding live, on-camera and on-audio daily press briefings.
By its count, Common Cause says there have only been five on-camera briefings in June, with the rest off-camera and with delayed audio.
"Televised briefings had been a near-daily occurrence for decades," the group said. "This highly problematic evasiveness with the media comes on top of a disturbing pattern of general hostility exhibited toward the media by White House officials."
The tone has been set from the top, with President Donald Trump branding negative stories as 'fake news' and their outlets in league with Democrats to delegitimize him.
“The White House is not a privately held company, unaccountable to stockholders,” said Common Cause president Karen Hobert Flynn. “The President and his Administration serve the People who elected them, yet the Trump Administration’s decision to ban cameras and live audio from an increasing number of daily briefing treats the People, the media, and the oath of office as little more than inconveniences.”
“This is not how an elected government behaves in a true democracy," she said, mincing no words. "Even on those occasions when cameras are allowed in the briefings, White House spokespeople regularly refuse to answer questions by claiming ignorance on a host of topics including those that a seventh grade civics class could have anticipated. Hiding behind the bully pulpit is a cowardly act far beneath the dignity of the Office of the President.”
The White House Correspondents' Association met with Spicer this week to register its concerns about new restrictions.
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Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.