There have been fewer on-camera press briefings over the past few months at the White House as animosity between the Trump administration and the news media has increased, but U.S. Rep. Jim Himes would like to see more.
The Connecticut Democrat introduced legislation last week that would require the White House to hold at least two on-camera press briefings per week.
“President Trump has displayed an overtly hostile attitude toward the press since the early days of the presidential campaign,” Himes said. “Aggressiveness toward reporters was a hallmark of many Trump rallies, where it was common for members of the media to be threatened and intimidated.”
He said the Trump administration has hosted fewer press briefings than the previous three administrations by this point in its first year. Six of the past nine weeks have seen either one or zero press briefing, according to Himes.
Today’s 2 p.m. briefing with Sean Spicer, his first since the end of June, will be an audio-only event. It will be the third off-camera press briefing the White House has held this month.
The daily press briefings that marked the start of the Trump administration have quickly vanished and Spicer, who was parodied by Melissa McCarthy on Saturday Night Live, has taken a less visible role in the briefings. Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has been holding the mostly off-camera briefings.
Himes said the legislation that’s been dubbed the “Free Press Act” would ensure that the press briefings will continue on a regular schedule and it guarantees the American people have access to the proceedings first hand.
“A free and independent press is essential to the survival of a functioning democracy,” Himes continued. “The media’s role is to ask the tough questions on behalf of the American public and work to hold our leaders accountable. I hope this bill helps push back on the efforts of this, or any, administration to suppress this necessary reporting.”