The White House's recent practice of banning video and live recordings at some press briefings has prompted a coalition of media groups to call on the Presdient Donald Trump to stop the practice, expressing the fear that continued off-mic briefings will further decrease transparency and the publics access to information.
The National Press Photographers Association joined with PEN America, the Committee to Protect Journalists, Free Press, Reporters Without Borders, and the Society of Professional Journalists in the letter to the president. Over the last two weeks, cameras and live audio transmissions were banned at several briefings. PEN America said televised briefings that had been happening several times a week had dropped to once a week in June.
“The whole point of the White House press briefing is to give the public a window into the White House, and for citizens to be able to gauge, face-to-televised-face, the trustworthiness of the people we put there,” said Gabe Rottman, PEN America’s Washington director. “We fear that closing the press briefings to video and audio is just another darkening of that window into our government. It’s a mistake on which we urge the White House to reverse its position.”
In the letter addressed to President Trump, the coalition explains why the access is important:
“The role of the press in asking questions and probing issues on behalf of the public is invaluable; there is no substitute for the give-and-take of a press conference in allowing the questions most on the minds of the American people to be asked and answered in real time, without the forethought and crafting that goes into scripted written messages.”