On Wednesday, former press secretaries for Bill Clinton and George W. Bush agreed that President Donald Trump should end the practice of allowing live television coverage of White House press briefings. Mike McCurry, who served in the Clinton administration, and Ari Fleischer of the George W. Bush administration, each release identical tweets, saying: “We support no live TV coverage of WH briefing. Embargo it & let it be used, but not as live TV. Better for the public, the WH & the press.”

Both have advocated an embargo on footage of the daily briefings that would prohibit live broadcasts from the White House press briefings for months. McCurry and Fleischer wrote in a joint op-ed in the Columbia Journalism Review in January, “If the briefing is ‘embargoed’ until its conclusion, it will become just one of several raw ingredients that journalists can use to prepare their reports on the work of the president and the White House.” The two went on to say, “It would instantly become a toned-down briefing, and reporters would use the information from the briefing and test it against other sources as they prepare coverage. It would not be a ‘news event’ in and of itself.” 

Fleischer and McCurry believe that the press briefings have become “an occasion for too much posturing on both sides of the camera.” The daily press events focus too much on so-called ‘gotcha’ questions than on facts. Fleischer, for his part, predicted that the current climate would calm done if the briefings are no longer televised live. Speaking to The Hill in April, Fleischer said, “The briefing would be cameras in the back of the room, film it all, but there would be no live coverage.” Fleischer added, “So if CNN wants to replay the entire briefing at 4 o’clock in the afternoon, they could. I doubt they ever would, but they could.”

“It gives the TV cameras everything the print guys have but it’s not a live TV show,” Fleischer said. “I think that would cool things down and calm things down a little bit, and be more old-fashioned in the conveyance of information, as opposed to two sides posturing and fighting on air.”

White House press secretary Sean Spicer has criticized the conduct of reporters during live televised press conference.

“I think some of these reporters are more interested in their YouTube clips than they are in getting factual news,” Spicer told Fox News on Monday. Then on Tuesday, Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Sanders took the media to task for using anonymous sources while criticizing CNN in particular, which recently had to retract a story that sought to link Trump advisor Anthony Scaramucci to Russian agents. 
 

 

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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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