Trump: I told Sanders to stop briefings because press covers her 'rudely'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice Department preparing for Mueller report as soon as next week: reports Smollett lawyers declare 'Empire' star innocent Pelosi asks members to support resolution against emergency declaration MORE on Tuesday said he directed White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to stop holding regular briefings, citing unfair treatment by the news media.

“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,” Trump tweeted. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway!”

The White House has come under fire from media organizations for the lack of regular press briefings. Sanders has yet to hold a formal briefing in 2019; the last one took place on Dec. 18, the longest stretch without a briefing during the Trump presidency.

“This retreat from transparency and accountability sets a terrible precedent," White House Correspondents' Association President Olivier Knox said in a statement. "Being able to question the press secretary or other senior government officials publicly helps the news media tell Americans what their most powerful representatives are doing in their name. While other avenues exist to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.” 

Trump appeared to be reacting to a Fox News interview by White House spokesman Hogan Gidley, who defended Sanders’s handling of the press corps

“It’s not that they’ve ever stopped, it’s just that sometimes we need to come to the podium to communicate things and sometimes we don’t,” Gidley said.

“A lot of the times when we don't come to the podium it’s because the president has addressed the American people himself,” he said, adding that Sanders would return to the podium “when she finds a reason to do that.”

“It’s kind of ridiculous, you can’t win for losing half the time," he said. “But the fact is, when the president isn’t going up we have a conversation about the message we deliver, and Sarah Sanders will absolutely be back at the podium talking to the press and delivering the message to the American people.”

White House press briefings grew increasingly rare over the course of 2018. Sanders held two briefings in October, and one each in November and December, respectively. Trump appeared in the briefing room earlier this month but did not take questions from reporters.

-Updated 3:15 p.m.