Is the White House 'stonewalling' the press? Reporters get restive after string of off-camera briefings

Reporters on Monday cried foul after the White House announced that it would hold another daily briefing off-camera and off-mic, further fueling concerns among journalists that the Trump administration is ducking questions from the press.

Several journalists on Monday took to Twitter to report that, once again, the daily press briefing would not be broadcast live on TV or on the radio.

https://twitter.com/Acosta/status/876855917194752000

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In a brief question-and-answer session after the press briefing, CNN Senior White House Correspondent Jim Acosta accused the White House press operation of "stonewalling" the press:

https://twitter.com/brianstelter/status/876874256189071360

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer didn't take questions from Politico or The Washington Post during the briefing, an unusual decision that was also flagged by reporters.

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A White House spokesperson did not return a question about why today's briefing was off-camera, or whether future briefings will be off-camera. During the briefing, Spicer fielded a question from a reporter who asked about off-camera briefings:

"I've said it since the beginning — the president spoke today, he was on camera," Spicer said. "He'll make another comment today at the technology summit. And there are days that I'll decide that the President's voice should be the one that speaks, and iterate his priorities."

So far, the White House has had about a dozen off-camera briefings, said Michael Memoli, a White House reporter for the Los Angeles Times. Recently, the White House has begun to stipulate that they are both off-camera and off-mic.

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"Sean did say before the inauguration that they would do 'something' every day, not necessarily on camera," Memoli said in an email. "For weeks, the off-camera briefings were the exception. But now they're definitely turning toward them more regularly in a way that we're recognizing is an unfortunate trend."

The White House has suggested radical changes to the daily press briefing in the past, at one point threatening to move it away from the White House entirely. That move never came to pass, although Spicer has changed things by taking questions from participants who videoconferenced in and calling on more members of the conservative media.

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    Benjamin Mullin

    Benjamin Mullin is the managing editor of Poynter.org. He previously reported for Poynter as a staff writer, Google Journalism Fellow and Naughton Fellow, covering journalism innovation, business practices and ethics.

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