U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Former House Speaker Gingrich says, if he could, he would eliminate the White House press corps

Incident Details

REUTERS/File/Lucas Jackson

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich speaks to the media in New York in this 2016 file photo.

— REUTERS/File/Lucas Jackson
October 21, 2019

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said during a CBS News interview on Oct. 21, 2019, that he would eliminate the White House press corps if he had the authority to do so.

While Gingrich appeared on CBSN Monday to promote his new book, he was asked by anchor Vladimir Duthiers whether he would have given a press briefing like Mick Mulvaney did if he were chief of staff. The previous week, Mulvaney gave a news conference during which he appeared to admit that President Donald Trump had asked for help investigating a political rival in exchange for releasing military aid for Ukraine.

Gingrich responded, "If I had had the ability to do it, there wouldn't be a White House press corps in the White House.”

"Why is that?" asked CBSN anchor Anne-Marie Green.

“They’re all enemies of the president,” Gingrich said. “Why would you call on people who get up every morning saying, ‘I hate Donald Trump. I wonder how I can make his life miserable’?”

Green interjected that press briefings are opportunities for the president to speak to the people. Gingrich dismissed that characterization, echoing the sentiments of White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham when she said she was not planning to resume regular press briefings.

“The president can speak to the people anytime,” Gingrich said. “He doesn’t need to speak to a bunch of reporters who are then going to be distorted by their editors.”

The Hill reported that Gingrich made similar comments in May 2017. According to The Hill’s reporting at the time, Gingrich called on Trump to follow through on his threat to cancel the daily press briefings and advised him to treat the news media as “dishonest opponents pretending to be reporters.”

Grisham and her press secretary predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, have effectively ended the daily White House press briefings. In January, Trump tweeted that the lack of regular briefings was the result of directions he gave to Sanders. ABC News reported that Wednesday, Sept. 11 marked six months since the White House held a traditional briefing.

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