After Weeks Away, Sean Spicer Finally Returns to White House Briefing Room
The press secretary hadn't done a briefing since June 26, and has seemingly been replaced by Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
"It's good to see you," one reporter said. "We missed you, Sean," said another. On Monday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer held his first press briefing since June 26, silencing those who have questioned whether he'd ever hold another one. "Well, I miss you, too," Spicer replied to his well-wishers.
Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders has emerged in recent weeks as the primary press briefer, and, one day after Spicer's performance, she was once again announced as Tuesday's designated press briefer.
"Is Spicer still press secretary?" Bloomberg editor David Joachim wrote on Twitter in response to Tuesday's announcement.
Spicer's briefing Monday was met with the usual critiques and rebukes from members of the media, including MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who said Spicer reminded him of a Soviet Union spokesperson. "They would come out and say things that had already been disproven, that the whole world knew had been disproven," Scarborough said Tuesday morning. "Like an old Soviet propagandist, you have White House people going out and actually quoting something that was proven to be a falsehood eight, nine, ten days ago."
On Monday, a few hours after Spicer's briefing, The Hollywood Reporter spoke with former White House press secretary Josh Earnest, who held the role for the last two and a half years of Barack Obama's presidency.
Earnest expressed some sympathy for Spicer and Sanders, who he said have not had enough time to build a relationship with President Trump and have not been given the information and access necessary to succeed.
While Earnest worked on Obama's presidential campaign for two years before joining him in the White House, he said Spicer has not had that opportunity to mind-meld with the president. "That's also why the next press secretary, whether that person is hired next month or next year or next term, will face the same kind of challenges and the same kind of obstacles that have hindered the performance of the president's present team," he said.
Earnest, now a political analyst for NBC News and MSNBC, said that White House reporters and the media in general risk "doing a little too much navel gazing" by complaining about the infrequency of the press briefings and about the shift from on-camera to off-camera, audio-only briefings.
While validating the importance of the briefing, Earnest said, "It's just imperative that all these questions that feel so important to journalists who closely cover the White House, that they don't obscure these other issues that are very important."
Once again, the announcement Tuesday morning that the afternoon's briefing would be off-camera brought a wave of recriminations from journalists.
"Another off-camera briefing: the only conclusion to draw now is that they are too scared to appear on camera unless it's @foxandfriends," said New York Times White House correspondent Glenn Thrush.
"So WH briefing's off-cam today," NBC News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson wrote on Twitter. Referring to stalled efforts to pass health care reform, she said, "when POTUS's biggest priority is back to square one, zero visible public messaging from POTUS *or* aides."