The White House has a new press secretary, but even if you’re a pretty close follower of political news, you may have missed her.
Stephanie Grisham, who had previously been serving just as First Lady Melania Trump’s communications director, took over for Sarah Sanders as press secretary for President Donald Trump at the beginning of July. She has retained her previous position working for the first lady, and she’s also functioning White House communications director.
One way she has been able to juggle all these duties is that she has declined to hold a single on-camera press briefing since taking over for Sanders. Sanders had once held briefings with some regularity but by the end of tenure, she had gone months without taking questions from reporters in the White House press room. CNN reported Friday that it has been 165 days since a formal on-camera White House briefing. The State Department and the Pentagon, too, have drastically cut back on their press availabilities.
The new CNN report also focused on Grisham’s decision not to hold briefings. This reportedly came as a surprise to her friends, who thought she would reinstate the practice once she took on the new role. Instead, Trump has been giving increasingly frantic, disjointed, and bigoted comments to reporters in impromptu outdoor question and answer sessions.
People close to Grisham have said she is now doubtful about fielding questions from reporters on camera, and has weighed holding off camera briefings instead. She has remarked she doesn’t want a fate similar to her predecessor, Sarah Sanders, whose tenure was marked with confrontations with reporters.
Grisham, understandably, may indeed want to avoid this “fate.” But a better strategy than tearing down an institution of government transparency would be to refuse to work with a liar like Trump altogether.