White House briefing is off-camera again – SFGate

David Bauder, Ap Television Writer

Updated 5:52 pm, Monday, July 17, 2017

NEW YORK (AP) — Cameras remained off Monday at the White House press briefing on orders of the Trump administration, sidelining one of daytime television’s most popular features on the same day that ABC announced new digital programming tied to it.

The last on-camera White House briefing was on June 29.

Following rules set by the White House, news networks only began airing press secretary Sean Spicer’s question-and-answer session after it was done. With still pictures of Spicer onscreen as he talked off-camera, it didn’t make for gripping television. Fox News Channel and MSNBC both broke away to other stories before the session was finished.

ABC News’ “The Briefing Room” started airing live Monday, with White House correspondents Jonathan Karl and Cecelia Vega providing analysis of Spicer’s session. The network has streamed past briefings online and on Facebook over the past several months; the new program is expected to air each day there is a White House briefing.


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to members of the media in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to members of the media in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to members of the media in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks to members of the media in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer points to members of the media as he answers questions in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer points to members of the media as he answers questions in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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Members of the media raise their hands during as White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.

Members of the media raise their hands during as White House press secretary Sean Spicer speaks in the Brady Briefing room of the White House in Washington, Monday, July 17, 2017.


Photo: Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP

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Insisting the crowd size at Trump’s inauguration was larger than reported

This is the gaffe that started it all. During Spicer’s first briefing in the press room on Jan. 21, 2017, Spicer defended the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration. “This was the largest audience ever to witness an inauguration, period,” Spicer said. “Both in person and around the globe.”

Photos from the National Mall, Nielsen television ratings, and Washington, D.C. Metro ridership figures all go against that claim. 

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This is the gaffe that started it all. During Spicer’s first briefing in the press room on Jan. 21, 2017, Spicer defended the crowd size at President Trump’s inauguration. “This was the largest audience ever … more


Photo: Alex Wong, Getty Images

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Mispronouncing world leaders’ names

Sean Spicer called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “Joe Trudeau” during a press briefing. He also pronounced Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull’s last name as “Trumble.” less
Sean Spicer called Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “Joe Trudeau” during a press briefing. He also pronounced Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turbull’s last name as “Trumble.”

Sean Spicer has stumbled on

… more


Photo: Evan Vucci, Associated Press

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Repeatedly referring to a terrorist attack in Atlanta

At least three times in January 2017, Spicer cited a mysterious terrorist attack in Atlanta that never happened. At one White House briefing, he said, “I don’t think you have to look any further than the families of the Boston Marathon, in Atlanta, in San Bernardino.”

He later told ABC News that he “clearly meant Orlando,” referring to the Pulse Nightclub attack in June 2016 that killed 49 people and injured 53 others. 

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At least three times in January 2017, Spicer cited a mysterious terrorist attack in Atlanta that never happened. At one White House briefing, he said, “I don’t think you have to look any further than the … more


Photo: Andrew Harnik, STF

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Denying that Donald Trump owns a bathrobe

In February 2017, the New York Times wrote an article that mentioned President Trump watches television in a bathrobe. Spicer responded by saying the report contained factual errors. “I don’t think the president owns a bathrobe. He definitely doesn’t wear one,” Spicer said. 

Then, social media resurfaced this old photo of Trump in a bathrobe. Plus, Ivanka Trump once admitted on a 2006 episode of The Apprentice that her father does indeed wear a “pink bathrobe.”

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In February 2017, the New York Times wrote an article that mentioned President Trump watches television in a bathrobe. Spicer responded by saying the report contained factual errors. “I don’t think the … more

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Insisting Trump’s travel ban was not a ban

Spicer lectured the media for calling Trump’s executive order a “Muslim ban” or “travel ban,” insisting it was neither of those things during a press briefing. When asked about Trump’s own tweet, where the president called the executive order a ban, Spicer responded by blaming the press, saying, “He’s using the words that the media is using.” less
Spicer lectured the media for calling Trump’s executive order a “Muslim ban” or “travel ban,” insisting it was neither of those things during a press briefing. When asked about Trump’s own tweet, where the … more


Photo: Evan Vucci, STF

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Retweeting the Onion

On Jan. 28, 2017, Spicer retweeted a video about him by the satirical website the Onion. It wasn’t clear whether Spicer was aware the Onion is a satirical publication. 

On Jan. 28, 2017, Spicer retweeted a video about him by the satirical website the Onion. It wasn’t clear whether Spicer was aware the Onion is a satirical publication. 


Photo: Screenshot Via Twitter

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Defending President Trump’s wiretapping statements

Spicer defended President Trump’s baseless claims that President Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower by focusing on the president’s use of punctuation. Spicer explained, “If you look at the President’s tweet he said very clearly ‘wire tapping’ in quotes,” and continued, “The president used the word ‘wiretap’ in quotes to mean broadly surveillance and other activities.” less
Spicer defended President Trump’s baseless claims that President Obama ordered wiretaps of Trump Tower by focusing on the president’s use of punctuation. Spicer explained, “If you look at the President’s tweet … more


Photo: Chip Somodevilla /Getty Images

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Tweeting out what might have been his password

In January 2017, Spicer tweeted a seemingly random string of letters and numbers that many on social media speculated may have been his password. Spicer quickly deleted the tweet, but never gave an explanation.  less
In January 2017, Spicer tweeted a seemingly random string of letters and numbers that many on social media speculated may have been his password. Spicer quickly deleted the tweet, but never gave an … more


Photo: Screenshot Via Twitter

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Chewing (and swallowing) more than two packs of gum daily

Spicer admitted to the Washington Post that he chews and swallows two and a half packs of Orbit cinnamon gum by noon daily, something that Melissa McCarthy famously made fun of him for on Saturday Night Live less
Spicer admitted to the Washington Post that he chews and swallows two and a half packs of Orbit cinnamon gum by noon daily, something that Melissa McCarthy famously made fun of him for on Saturday Night … more

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White House briefing is off-camera again

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Without its own affiliated cable network, ABC is looking for different ways to take advantage of its expertise, said Rick Klein, the network’s political director.

“We’re just seeing such huge interest in the story,” Klein said.

Klein said ABC, like other television networks, is pushing for the briefings to go back on camera and be shown live. It’s a sentiment most prominently expressed by CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta, who last month repeatedly asked Spicer, “Why don’t we turn the cameras on, Sean?” without getting an answer.

Acosta, on the air, has complained about the Trump administration “taking us into a strange new world where accountability doesn’t exist.”

To a fan base that has delighted in Trump repeatedly deriding CNN as “fake news,” Acosta’s protests aren’t likely to gain much traction. News executives and White House correspondents have yet to find a strategy to change the way things are going. Trump has given only one free-wheeling news conference since taking office nearly six months ago, and has lately restricted most of his interviews to friendly outfits like Fox News Channel.

No news organization has defied White House rules by airing the briefings live. The first audio-only briefing was heard live on news networks, primarily because the White House hadn’t firmed up its rules ahead of time.

U.S. Rep. Jim Himes, a Connecticut Democrat, last week proposed legislation that would require the White House to hold at least two video news conferences a week. Himes said the previous three administrations briefed the press on camera, on average, more than three times a week.

As a practical matter, his idea is essentially dead on arrival, since there’s been no support within the House Republican majority.

“I just wanted, at a time that the White House has been restricting access to its thinking and its policies, to maybe goad them a little and get some discussion on it,” Himes said.

“All of us feel like we are sometimes treated badly by the press and occasionally we are. The press, of course, is made up of people and people never get things 100 percent right. But the overall function of holding politicians’ feet to the fire and holding people accountable is one of the things that helps make the country great.”

Over the last several years, Ari Fleischer and Mike McCurry, press secretaries for George W. Bush and Bill Clinton, have both publicly called for White House briefings not to be held live on camera, believing it makes for showmanship.

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