Former Speaker Newt Gingrich is urging President Trump to follow through on his threat to cancel daily White House press briefings, accusing news media of being “dishonest opponents” of the president.
“What they ought to do is get out of all this junk, they ought to focus on the big goals, they ought to report to the nation on the big goals, ignore all these reporters, close down the press room, send the reporters off [to Starbucks],” Gingrich said on Fox News’s “Hannity.”
“Maybe say to the American people – send in your questions, we’ll take the best five questions and we’ll answer them by name.”
Trump on Friday suggested he might cancel “all future ‘press briefings'” in the name of accuracy after his administration struggled to explain the firing of FBI Director James Comey this week.
The threat came a day after the president undercut the official account of Comey’s firing from senior White House officials and Vice President Pence when he said he would have fired the FBI chief regardless of a recommendation to do so from the Justice Department.
“As a very active President with lots of things happening, it is not possible for my surrogates to stand at podium with perfect accuracy!” Trump tweeted.
He suggested the idea again later Friday, telling Fox News in an interview, “We don’t have press conferences, we just don’t have them, unless I have them every two weeks and I do them myself.”
“Donald Trump is not the chief entertainer of the United States. He’s not the chief wrestling match with the elite media. He is the president of the United States,” Gingrich told host Sean Hannity on Friday night.
Gingrich said Trump should treat news media as “dishonest opponents pretending to be reporters.”
Trump has previously accused news media of being “the enemy of the American people,” which journalists have rejected.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) on Friday pushed back on Trump’s threat to cancel future White House briefings, noting that “White House briefings and press conferences provide substantive and symbolic opportunities for journalists to pose questions to officials at the highest levels of the U.S. government.”
“Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned,” WHCA President Jeff Mason, a correspondent for Reuters, said in a statement. “The White House Correspondents’ Association would object to any move that would threaten those constitutionally-protected principles.”