The Daily White House Briefing: ‘Must-See TV’ With An Uncertain Future – NPR

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White House press secretary Sean Spicer departs after a briefing at the White House on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

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Win McNamee/Getty Images

White House press secretary Sean Spicer departs after a briefing at the White House on Tuesday in Washington, D.C.

Win McNamee/Getty Images

Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer held an on-camera briefing at the White House Tuesday, his first in eight days and possibly his last. At least he refused to say it wasn’t.

“We’re always looking for ways to do a better job of articulating the president’s message and his agenda, and we’ll continue to have those discussions internally. When we have an announcement of a personnel nature we will let you know.”

No one wants to discuss his own job security with a room full of at-times hostile reporters. But that wasn’t the White House press secretary’s only awkward moment. He was also seen repeating the kind of shrug-it-off responses he has been reduced to lately.

Has President Trump seen the health care bill being written in secret by Republicans in the Senate?

“I don’t know,” said Spicer, his expression an apparent mix of chagrin and bewilderment.

Does the president accept the consensus judgment of the U.S. intelligence community that the Russians tried to hack, if not hijack, the 2016 elections in America?

“I have not sat down and talked to him about that specific thing,” Spicer said, looking slightly dazed.

There has been a rising storm of high dudgeon among the national media in recent days because the daily briefings — when they happened at all — have been closed to cameras.

For TV reporters, that’s the professional equivalent of being excluded, and they have not been shy about complaining on-air.

Moreover, when the briefings do happen, whether on camera or off, they are shorter — sometimes very short — and terminated abruptly by Spicer. That means fewer questions are taken, and answers are more brief.

All these facts are assumed to mean Spicer’s tenure is nearing its end. Over the weekend it was reported (though not confirmed by NPR) that he would “move upstairs” to be communications director. That office has been vacant since Mike Dubke resigned in May.

It is widely believed that Spicer will make that move as soon as a successor can be found to occupy the podium in the press room — a prop made famous in the Saturday Night Live skits in which Spicer is impersonated by comedian Melissa McCarthy.

Rumors have swirled around various conservative media stars, including TV and radio talk show host Laura Ingraham. But the decision will ultimately be up to the president. And that might well be announced not from the podium, but from a certain Twitter account at dawn.

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