After facing months of abuse from members of the White House press corps, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has significantly cut back on her time in the press briefing room — and recently, President Donald Trump even told her “not to bother” doing her briefings at all.
Now, Sanders is defending the Trump administration’s choice to significantly reduce the number of official briefings she gives, arguing that the press corps is too worried about their own stardom to focus on their real job of informing the American people.
Trump: Don’t bother with briefings
President Trump has made himself increasingly available to the press directly, often engaging with them on his way to and from the White House and at impromptu press conferences on live TV. Some have even referred to Trump as one of the most accessible presidents in American history.
But that doesn’t mean he has to force his press secretary to endure ongoing abuse from members of the press corps, who he says cover her “rudely” and “inaccurately.”
The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the “podium” much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press. I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2019
Likewise, Sanders told the co-hosts of Fox & Friends on Wednesday that she is hesitant to resume holding daily briefings because she doesn’t want to provide a platform for publicity-seeking reporters to make a scene and go viral online, padding their anti-Trump resumes.
Making a CNN Contributor
Asked about the president’s recent tweet, Sanders explained that Trump “doesn’t like the decorum in the White House.”
“We’re in the business of getting information to the American people, not making stars out of people that want to become contributors on CNN. And that’s a lot of times what we see take place in the briefing room,” she said.
Though she didn’t name any specific journalists, Sanders was likely referencing two particular members of the White House press pool — American Urban Radio reporter April Ryan and Playboy magazine reporter Brian Karem — who both earned contributor spots on CNN in 2017 after causing scenes in the briefing room and raising their anti-Trump profile through heated arguments with Sanders.
For her part, Ryan has gone back-and-forth with Sanders on multiple occasions, even seeming to subtly threaten physical violence against the spokeswoman on Twitter at one point.
Karem has also had several back-and-forth dialogues with Sanders, often spurred by out-of-turn emotional outbursts.
But while Sanders won’t be taking the podium in the briefing room very often in the near future, she isn’t slinking out of the spotlight of the Trump administration.
“I take questions from reporters every single day,” she said. “I stopped last night after I finished an interview where I took questions, and took more questions from a gaggle of reporters standing right outside the building behind me. I’m sure I’ll do that again here in a few minutes.”
She went on to laud the president’s accessibility before reiterating that press briefings aren’t necessary to keep the public informed about the happenings in Washington.
“The president takes questions nearly every single day from reporters. And we’re on call almost 24 hours a day. I talked to multiple reporters on my way into work this morning,” she said. “The idea that his White House isn’t accessible to the press is absolutely laughable.”