The Trump White House faced widespread criticism on Tuesday after Vice President Mike Pence conducted a press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, but members of the media were not allowed to record video or audio.
The administration ― which only last week vowed to be “aggressively transparent” with the public about the spread of the virus that has now killed nine people in the U.S. ― only allowed still photographs to be taken, CNN’s Jim Acosta and other journalists in attendance tweeted.
“I asked Pence why the Coronavirus briefing is off camera today. He said he believes the briefing will be back on cam tomorrow,” Acosta later posted, noting “the closest thing to an explanation we got” was “when Pence said Trump was on camera a bunch today.”
Obama-era White House chief photographer Pete Souza said he “can’t ever remember a time when a VP or POTUS spoke in the White House press briefing room and video/audio was prohibited.”
“It’s like they’re imploding,” added Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
The Trump administration’s coronavirus response has been widely criticized as disorganized and slow. Trump himself has repeatedly sought to downplay the risks, sometimes with outright falsehoods.