Trump Suggests Eliminating Daily White House Press Briefings
After a rollercoaster week in which a few different stories emerged from the White House about the firing of FBI Director James Comey – stories that President Trump himself cleared up in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt – the backlash from the mainstream media has been enormous. And in the wake of that backlash, the president is suggesting that the White House should cut out the traditional daily press briefings altogether.
On Twitter, Trump said Friday that it was unfair to expect his press staff to get every detail of every story right when things were moving so rapidly.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening,” he wrote, “it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy! Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???”
For a day or two after Comey’s firing, Sean Spicer, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and even Vice President Mike Pence cited a letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein as the main impetus behind the decision. The letter, which criticized Comey for his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation, was reportedly delivered to the president on Tuesday, after which Trump chose to relieve the FBI director of his duties.
That official story never made complete sense, of course, seeing as how it was never President Trump’s belief that Comey was “too hard” on Hillary during the 2016 investigation, which was the underlying sentiment in Rosenstein’s letter. And when Trump sat down with Holt, he admitted that the letter had little to do with his decision.
“I was going to fire regardless of the recommendation,” Trump said.
This has been an ongoing theme in Trump World since the campaign; his surrogates would be on television using one story, only to be later contradicted by Trump himself. This has always been a man who plays his cards close to the vest, and the American people have long understood that unless they get it straight from the horse’s mouth, any explanation for any decision is to be taken with a grain of salt.
With that in mind, it might not be the worst idea to at least cut back on the press briefings. Trump, after all, has always had a (let’s be charitable) skeptical view of the media. He has always preferred to take his message straight to the people. In light of that theme, it may not make sense to conduct White House communications in the same way as previous administrations.
Hold a press conference every now and then, issue memos through official White House channels, and stop allowing the hostile media to turn Spicer and Sanders into human piñatas every afternoon. This has turned into a game for the press, and it only feeds their ongoing drama machine. To tame the beast, you have to starve it.