White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham scoffed at an open letter from past presidential aides that called for the return of regular press briefings, claiming reporters are looking for “a moment” rather than information.
“The press has unprecedented access to President Trump, yet they continue to complain because they can’t grandstand on TV,” Grisham told Axios in response to the letter, which was published by CNN on Friday. “They’re not looking for information, they’re looking for a moment.”
Grisham, who also serves as the White House communications director and a spokeswoman for first lady Melania Trump, took over as White House press secretary in July after Sarah Huckabee Sanders stepped down from the role. Trump’s White House hasn’t held a traditional press briefing since March.
In their letter, the former White House officials, which included press secretaries who served under Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, outlined the necessity of regular press briefings.
“The press will report a story to the best of their ability whether they are briefed by the administration or not,” the signatories wrote. “But regular briefings generally lead to better and more responsible reporting.”
What’s more, they continued, press briefings help “make the government run better” and “force a certain discipline on government decision making.”
“The public has a right to know what its government is doing, and the government has a duty to explain what it is doing,” the former officials wrote.
But Grisham brushed off the open letter as “groupthink at its finest” and welcomed former press secretaries to “publicly pile on all they want.”
“This president is unorthodox in everything he’s done,” she told Axios. “He’s rewritten the rules of politics. His press secretary and everyone else in the administration is reflective of that.”
Retired Real Admiral John Kirby, one of the letter’s signatories and a former spokesman for the Defense and State Departments under Obama, told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday that press briefings are about more than “access.”
“The briefings give you accountability,” Kirby said. “That’s what’s lacking here.”