As White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham announced her role change in the West Wing to become First Lady Melania Trump’s Chief of Staff, mainstream media journalists are a bit tied up in knots about whether they want formal press briefings or not.
The first lady’s Chief of Staff, Lindsay Reynolds, resigned this week to spend more time with her family. Grisham plans to transition to the first lady’s office as soon as her replacement Kayleigh McEnany is adjusted to her role. McEnany previously served as the national press secretary for the Trump campaign.
“I continue to be honored to serve both the President and first lady in the administration. My replacements will be announced in the coming days and I will stay in the West Wing to help with a smooth transition for as long as needed,” Grisham said in a statement.
In January, Grisham responded to pieces in the New York Times and Washington Post questioning “what it is that you do” since she abolished the daily press briefings the White House press corp came to yearn for. Grisham argued between Trump’s tweets, press conferences and constant pool sprays, the American people and the press are hearing directly from the president. “I think that people are just hyper focused on potentially three times a week, 20 minutes a day press briefing when I think the way we’re doing it is actually better and I think the American people and the media are being served a lot better,” she said in a Fox News interview.
Now that Grisham is announcing her departure from the communications role, journalists and media outlets like Vox, CNN, and The Washington Post are once again criticizing her lack of briefings and minimal interactions with the press.
Jim Scuitto, CNN’s chief national security correspondent, tweeted his disdain for Grisham leaving her position without briefing the press.
Breaking: Stephanie Grisham is out as WH press secretary.
She is leaving the job without ever having briefed the press.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) April 7, 2020
The Washington Post reported the news by criticizing her irregular press briefings during her 10 months as press secretary, as did Washington Post reporter Aaron Blake.
Stephanie Grisham out as White House press secretary after eight months during which she held no regular press briefings https://t.co/Pzk7GnP51t
— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) April 7, 2020
CNN’s Kaitlan Collins tweeted Grisham “never briefed reporters during her tenure.”
News — Stephanie Grisham is out as press secretary. She never briefed reporters during her tenure. She's going back to the East Wing. And a communications shakeup is underway. W/ @KateBennett_DC
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 7, 2020
Aaron Rupar, a writer for Vox, claimed Grisham was doing “softball interviews” with Fox News instead of holding press briefings with the press.
Stephanie Grisham got paid by taxpayers to do softball interviews on Fox News. https://t.co/kVn9gEf36b
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 7, 2020
These news outlets, who are now complaining about not enough press briefings under Grisham, are the same ones that routinely criticize President Donald Trump for his constant coronavirus task force briefings.
CNN decided to axe Trump’s briefings from the network until they are vetted and clipped to fit the network’s narrative. The Washington Post called for an end to Trump’s daily coronavirus briefings as well. Contributing columnist Matt Bai called the important briefings on the deadly virus, “Trump’s Daily Show,” where “he reads from the document haltingly, his head buried in the text, his shoulders lurching violently with the effort of trying to pronounce some of the words.”
On March 21, the Washington Post’s media columnist Margaret Sullivan wrote an article titled, “The media must stop live-broadcasting Trump’s dangerous, destructive coronavirus briefings.” She called the informative briefings “self-aggrandizing,” “media bashing,” and “exaggeration and outright lies.”
Aaron Rupar lamented that Trump’s breifings have “become mini Trump rallies.”
If Grisham had hosted regular press briefings, she would be mocked and criticized like former press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was. She’s now being blasted because she didn’t. Broadcast journalists feel a sense of loss when they are unable to grandstand at daily briefings, and simultaneously declare Trump’s briefings as the “dangerous” spread of misinformation. With the mainstream media, it’s damned if you do, damned if you don’t–if you work for a Republican that is.