Today is the last, the 31st, day of July.
In that time, there have been three White House “daily” briefings by press secretary Sarah Sanders, according to CNN’s invaluable Allie Malloy. That’s less than one “daily” briefing every 10 days. (Related note: I was awarded the Fields medal in mathematics last year.)
That trio of briefings lasted a total of 58 minutes, again according to Malloy. Let me repeat that: The sum total of White House “daily” press briefings in July 2018 is 58 minutes. Less than one total hour. In a month. (Again, I won the Fields medal so you can trust me on this.)
How does that compare to past presidential administrations in July of their second year in office? Again, Malloy’s research to the rescue! The three briefings the Trump White House held in July 2018 is one-quarter the number (12) the Obama administration held in July 2010. George W. Bush’s administration held nine press briefings in July 2006, while the Clinton administration held six press briefings in July 1994.
(Nota bene: Trump does talk to the press – particularly in impromptu moments – more than past presidents.)
It’s no secret that Trump himself is no fan of the daily press briefing. A year and two weeks ago – to the day! – I wrote a piece headlined: “The White House is trying to kill the daily press briefing.” As I wrote at the time:
“What the White House is doing is working to kill off the daily press briefing – a ritual that has long functioned as the best (and often only) way for reporters to get the White House on record and on video about various issues affecting the country and the world. … And even in the increasingly common off-camera briefings – which were a very occasional occurrence in past White Houses – Sanders and White House press secretary Sean Spicer appear to be working hard to be, at best, unhelpful and, at worst, openly misleading.”
Why doesn’t Trump like the briefing? Because he believes he is the best messenger the administration has – and that when any voice but his own (or sometimes Rudy Giuliani’s) is out talking, the administration is competing against itself unnecessarily.
The Point: Trump’s presidency has brought lots and lots (and lots) of changes to the White House and official Washington. Don’t overlook how much Trump has already changed the daily press briefing.