Canceling press briefings threatens ‘accountability, transparency’: reporter association
President Trump’s threat to cancel future White House press briefings would “reduce accountability,” the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) said on Friday.
“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,” WHCA President Jeff Mason said in a statement. “That exercise, conducted in full view of our republic’s citizens, is clearly in line with the spirit of the First Amendment.”
Mason, who heads a member organization of reporters who cover the White House for major media organizations, pushed back strongly on the idea Trump tweeted early on Friday amid critical reports about disorganized communications at the White House.
“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. The White House Correspondents’ Association would object to any move that would threaten those constitutionally-protected principles.”
White House Correspondents’ Association statement on press briefings. pic.twitter.com/qAzrzehENL
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) May 12, 2017
Trump floated the idea of calling off future press briefings and replacing the daily news conferences with written briefings.
“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 wrote on Twitter.
“Maybe the best thing to do would be to cancel all future ‘press briefings’ and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy???” he added in a second tweet.
The White House is facing backlash over a series of inconsistent statements regarding Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey earlier in the week. Trump’s own account of the firing directly contradicted what other officials had told the press.
Despite those clear contradictions, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at Thursday’s press briefing that the White House’s narrative had remained consistent.
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