Hillary Clinton's campaign spokesman says she has been accessible to the press
But she's not been nearly as available as he suggests
Hillary Clinton’s national press secretary on Sunday defended his candidate’s lack of media availability by overstating the frequency and length with which Clinton speaks with her traveling press corps.
Clinton has not taken questions from her traveling press corps since May 9, when she held a short media availability in Stone Ridge, Virginia, after a roundtable at Mug-N-Muffin, a local coffee shop.
But Brian Fallon, Clinton’s press secretary, said Sunday on CNN’s “Reliable Sources” that Clinton “oftentimes” will end the day with a media availability where she will “literally stand there for 15, 20 minutes and answer questions from her traveling press corps, including the embeds from the various networks.”
Fallon added, “The reality, bottom line, is that she’s answering questions from the reporters that are covering her day to day.”
Clinton, however, is far less accessible than any other candidate still in the presidential race and has not once taken questions for 15 to 20 minutes in 2016.
Clinton has had a total of nine “gaggles” – or informal question and answer sessions with reporters – in 2016.
Clinton broke an 88-day drought of taking questions from her traveling press corps on March 1 when she responded to reporters during a stop at Mapps Coffee & Tea, a small coffee shop in Minneapolis.
Clinton then took questions from reporters on March 10 in Florida, March 15 in North Carolina and March 29 in Wisconsin.
The former secretary of state was far more accessible before the New York primary, where she took question on April 7, 8, 9 and April 18.
Most of these gaggles were less 10 minutes.
Late Sunday afternoon Nick Merrill, Clinton’s traveling press secretary, pushed back on the notion that the likely Democratic nominee has been largely inaccessible to the media.
“She has done an average of about two media interviews a day in 2016 alone, along with several informal gaggles with press who travel with us,” Merrill said. “That amounts to thousands of questions asked and answered, and we’ll continue to do more of that going forward.”
Clinton herself has defended her lack of availability to her traveling press corps by noting that she regularly does one-on-one interviews with local and national press.
“I have done nearly 300 interviews just in 2016 and I believe that it’s important to continue to, you know, speak to the press as I’m doing right now,” Clinton told CNN’s Jake Tapper in May.
Clinton added that she was “sure” she will do a press conference soon.
“I believe that we do and we should answer questions,” Clinton said. “Of course, I’m going to, and in many, many different kinds of settings.”