The new normal: White House press briefings continue to get shorter and more infrequent

This is not a research update. This is a long facebook post I decided to turn into a short blog post. I have very strong beliefs, but usually I try to let the reporters do the reporting. Except this time, they’re not reporting enough about something they should be.

There was only one White House press briefing in September. This is not normal, yet no one is talking about it. I first heard about it in a brief segment on NPR’s Politics podcast. Except even there, there was no real coverage. Rather, it was one reporter expressing her surprise (in a sentence or two) at the lack of interest. I don’t like to rely on CNN as my source here (even though we’re dealing with a simple fact) just because people on the will be more likely to dismiss its importance from mere association (a success of Trump’s targeting them as biased). Unfortunately, they’re the only ones talking about it. That speaks to how little press it’s getting.

Bush briefings were on average 32 minutes. Obama’s 70 minutes. Trumps began about on par with Bush’s (~25-30 minutes). By June of 2017, the Washington Post said the Trump briefings were getting shorter and more infrequent. While this was technically true, CNN made the point that this only holds true compared to Obama. As I’ve already mentioned, Bush’s were the same length.
However, that has changed. They have been getting consecutively shorter and more infrequent since January 2018. The length has decreased, on average, 3 minutes each month as of June 2018. That’s ~15 minute briefings.
WHPB
From Washington Post
Fast forward to now and we’re down to one briefing last month. This isn’t normal, and these are a crucial part of our right to be informed. Furthermore, it represents a growing lack of transparency that exists in the Trump administration and their attempts to stifle the free press. This shouldn’t just fade into the background. It deserves to be reported.
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Josh Hedgepeth

PhD student in Geophysics with CPSX at Western University in Ontario, Canada.

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