Politico Highlights “Disappearing” Sean Spicer’s Retreat From Televised Briefings
White House Would Rather Avoid A “Combative Briefing” And Let Trump “Control The Message Himself”
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After weeks of lying on camera and lashing out at reporters during recorded press briefings (and drawing subsequent public mockery), White House press secretary Sean Spicer is “retreating from the harsh glare of the daily televised briefing,” Politico reported. The publication explained that, as of March 6, Spicer had not held a regular on-camera briefing in seven days -- a period that has hardly been light on news. Since Spicer’s last regular briefing, Trump signed a revised Muslim ban, Trump took to Twitter to float a series of baseless allegations that President Barack Obama had ordered wiretapping at Trump Tower during the presidential campaign, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any Department of Justice probes related to the 2016 election after it was reported he had met with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. twice during the election season.
Though Spicer is expected to break that streak this afternoon, a White House official told Politico that Trump “prefers controlling the message himself” and that the administration believes “a combative briefing [from Spicer] can take away from the administration’s attempt at orchestrated news.” Instead, Spicer is increasingly relying on smaller, “off-camera ‘gaggles’” with friendly outlets while eschewing traditional briefings, a tactic that appears to be taking hold across the administration.
From the Politico article:
After two flayings on Saturday Night Live, sustained mockings on late-night shows, and a series of televised confrontations with reporters, White House press secretary Sean Spicer is retreating from the harsh glare of the daily televised briefing.
The White House has not held a televised briefing in seven days, after regularly holding the traditional on-camera event in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room on weekdays when President Donald Trump was not travelling.
Instead, Spicer and the press shop is increasingly turning to off-camera “gaggles” that shield the embattled press secretary from scrutiny — both from a fascinated national audience and a certain regular viewer in the Oval Office.
There is a concern in the White House that a combative briefing can take away from the administration’s attempt at orchestrated news, and the president prefers controlling the message himself, one White House official said.
The retreat from the press has taken place administration-wide. The State Department has curtailed its own briefings, which used to take place daily. The briefings were set to resume this week, but Monday’s was cancelled after the rollout of the new travel ban executive order Monday morning, which included a statement from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.