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Republicans and Democrats live in “nearly inverse news media environments,” Pew finds
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June 20, 2017, 11:50 a.m.
Audience & Social
LINK:  ➚   |   Posted by: Laura Hazard Owen   |   June 20, 2017

Are the White House press briefings becoming so brief that they’re actually disappearing? On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer — who is, reportedly, leaving his role for a different position in the White House, which would leave his job open — held a press briefing and prohibited video and audio coverage. That followed four days last week in which the briefing was done only off camera (but outlets were permitted to record audio).

“Unless you were in the White House briefing room on Monday, you could not watch or even listen to press secretary Sean Spicer answer reporters’ questions,” notes The Washington Post. “So, we are offering the next best thing — an annotated transcript of the session.” The “off-camera, no-audio” briefing was marked up with highlights and annotations using Genius.

Genius annotations, however, are no match for real audio and clips. “I don’t know what world we’re living in right now,” CNN senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta said on air Monday. “I don’t know why everybody is going along with this. It just doesn’t make any sense to me. It just feels like we’re sort of slowly but surely being dragged into a new normal in this country where the president of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions.”

The Washington Post has also covered the collapse of the briefing:

[The] administration’s press representatives are meeting less often with the press. During Trump’s first 100 days in office, Spicer and Sanders held 53 official briefings and “gaggles,” informal, untelevised Q&As with small groups of reporters — a rate of about once every two days. In the 43 days since then, just 15 such sessions have been held, or once every three days. The briefings are getting briefer, too: Early on, Spicer engaged with reporters for an hour or longer; during his May 30 briefing, he took questions for just 11 minutes.

Meanwhile, from The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray:

Neither Spicer nor deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders responded to queries about the changes to the briefings. Asked why the briefings are now routinely held off-camera, White House chief strategist Steve Bannon said in a text message “Sean got fatter,” and did not respond to a follow-up.

Trump’s White House has been limiting press access in other ways as well (thread):

CNN’s Brian Stelter has more on the administration’s secrecy, writing, “By almost every measure, the Trump White House has reduced transparency about the workings of government.” On Tuesday, Sean Spicer is holding an on-air press briefing — “his first in eight days.”

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After ten years of writing for Nieman Lab, Ken takes a big look back and ahead, defining the state of affairs for the troubled world of journalism.