Day 152: The Erosion of the Republic Continues

Video cameras and audio recorders barred from press briefing room.

Andrew Harrer-Pool | Getty Images

Yesterday, Press Secretary Sean Spicer informed the White House press corps that they would not be able to ask him questions on camera or even record his answers with audio.

Members of the press corps were not amused.

During the briefing, Spicer passed on questions from many reputable organizations in favor of a Russian reporter. Spicer generally tap danced around providing any answers of particular substance for the duration of his appearance.

What makes this so heinous is the press secretary speaks on behalf of the president, both of whom serve at the pleasure of the taxpayer. Donald Trump chooses to give virtually his only public statements via 140-character tweets and hasn’t had a real, full press conference since February. Now that his chief mouthpiece is suppressing how information is distributed and limiting the amount of time that he gives briefings — down to roughly 15 minutes in recent weeks — one has to wonder what it means for transparency of the republic.

A free and open press is a hallmark of the U.S. political system. There’s a reason that freedom of the press is one of the first things mentioned in the Bill of Rights. By attempting to suppress a message and spin solely propaganda is inherently undemocratic. Administration officials cowering cowardly to avoid the scrutiny of the American goes against the very fabric of the Constitution.

The fact that the Trump administration continues to attempt to muzzle the press from airing their direct proclamations is ironic. No one has blamed and harassed the press quite like Trump and his team. He takes to Twitter daily and decries #FakeNews or “biased” CNN or the “failing New York Times,” yet he is actively trying to prevent them from airing his and his team’s words. There’s little room for spin by a news organization if Trump’s or Spicer’s words air exactly how they are uttered.

The White House initially declined to hold a press briefing at all today before backtracking and allowing it to proceed. But we’ve seen yesterday’s act multiple times in the last few months: private gaggles among select organizations, blacklisting of others and the complete elimination of democratic values are popping up with increasing frequency.

No matter what side of the aisle you’re on, the blatant striping away of American tenets is a terrifying prospect.

152 days in, 1310 to go

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