U.S. Press Freedom Tracker

Trump stops regular press briefings, citing unfair media treatment

Incident Details

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders holds a press briefing in October of 2018. The administration's last formal briefing was Dec. 18, 2018, marking a record lack of briefings since 1955.

— REUTERS/Carlos Barria
April 23, 2019 - Update

Under Sanders' tenure, White House breaks record for longest stretch without press briefing

The Washington Post noted that on April 23, 2019, the Trump White House set a record for the longest time without a formal press briefing — 43 days.

“This breaks the previous record set in March (42 days), which broke the record set in January (41 days),” the Post reported. “Since the beginning of the year, Sanders has had just two briefings, fielding press questions for a mere 30 minutes or so in total.”

January 23, 2019

President Trump revealed in a tweet on Jan. 22, 2019, that the lack of regular White House press briefings was the result of directions he gave to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway!” the tweet reads. “Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”

Press briefings have become increasingly rare over the past year, The Hill reported, with only one each in November and December. With the last formal press briefing held by Sanders on Dec. 18, 2018, the National Journal reported that this is not only the longest period without a briefing since Trump took office, but the longest since broadcasting of the briefings began in 1955. Trump’s tweet exposes the decline in briefings as a retaliatory measure for press covering Sanders and his administration “rudely” and “inaccurately.”

Though the press briefing has become a tradition, it is not mandated by law. However, White House Correspondents’ Association President Oliver Knox said in a statement, “While other avenues exist to obtain information, the robust, public back-and-forth we’ve come to expect in the James A. Brady briefing room helps highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned.”

The Press Freedom Tracker is following this case as reporting continues.

The U.S. Press Freedom Tracker catalogues press freedom violations in the United States. Email tips to [email protected].