White House reporters fume over off-camera briefings

The White House press corps vented frustration Monday with press secretary Sean Spicer for conducting off-camera briefings in place of the usual publicly broadcast briefings.

Spicer conducted an off-camera briefing with reporters on Monday in which the press was told it could not film or broadcast audio of the proceedings. Spicer conducted the last on-camera briefing last Monday.

“The White House press secretary is getting to a point where he’s just kind of useless,” CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta said after the briefing. “If they’re getting to this point where he’s not going to answer questions or go on camera or have audio, why are we even having these briefings or gaggles in the first place?”

{mosads}The White House has increasingly forged its own path with the press — holding off-camera briefings and gaggles, imposing restrictions on reporters’ use of audio and video feeds, inviting Cabinet officials to speak only about specific policy issues and rotating between Spicer and deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

Some of those moves have angered the White House press corps but delighted Trump’s supporters, who view the media as what White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon has dubbed the “opposition party.”

Time reporter Zeke Miller asked Spicer Monday to explain “why our friends in radio and television can’t use this live.”

Spicer responded that the president had made comments at a photo opportunity with the Panamanian president and later would make public comments at a technology council meeting.

“There are days where we decide that the president’s voice should be the one who speaks for the administration,” Spicer said.

However, there is no opportunity on those occasions for reporters to question President Trump or his administration officials.

A second reporter at Monday’s briefing followed up.

“On the days when you come out here and there is not a camera, could you please ask the president to be ever so kind and step up here and answer some questions for us on that day?”

“I’ll be sure to share your sentiments with the president,” Spicer responded.

Spicer declined to call on CNN’s Acosta on Monday as the veteran reporter shouted questions at him that were ignored. Trump slammed CNN and Acosta at a February press conference as “fake news.”

As Spicer walked away, Acosta shouted: “It’s off-camera and you can’t answer questions?”

Acosta then went on TV to call the off-camera briefing “bizarre.”

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