June 28, 2017 – Today, Common Cause urged White House communications director Sean Spicer to return to established norms and allow cameras and live audio feeds at daily White House press briefings.
“If any Administration ever needed to be more transparent and honest with the media it is the Trump Administration, but instead it is closing ranks amidst a flurry of scandals and taking the People’s business behind closed doors,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “This is not how an elected government behaves in a true democracy. 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.”
By Common Cause’s count there have been only five on camera briefings by White House press officials during the entire month of June. The rest have been off-camera, with prohibitions on live audio. Televised briefings had been a near-daily occurrence for decades. 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 White House is not a privately held company, unaccountable to stockholders,” added 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.”
The letter emphasizes that the television blackouts and the overall evasiveness with, and hostility toward, the media are part of a disturbing pattern exhibited by the White House of attacking institutions that serve as a check on presidential power. Flynn in her letter urges Spicer to drop the briefing ban on cameras and live audio immediately and for the Trump Administration to hold itself accountable to the nation it was elected to serve.
To read the letter, click here.