The White House doubled down on its opposition to transparency and its war with the press on Monday when a White House spokesman refused to take any questions on the record from reporters who had traveled to Utah with Donald Trump. On days when the president travels, a formal press briefing is usually replaced by an informal gaggle—but reporters still get to ask questions. Not this time.
[Spokesman Hogan] Gidley read reporters a brief series of statements on a few news items of the day – including Trump’s endorsement of Alabama Senate candidate Roy Moore and a Supreme Court decision to allow his travel ban to be enforced for now.
Then he announced that he would be declining to answer any questions on the record.
Reporters traveling with the president declined his offer to entertain off-the-record questions.
Q: “We have to ask the questions–“
A: “I understand that, you have a job to do and so do I.”
Q: “You’re not doing your job. Your job is literally to take questions from us. That’s the whole point of this.” If you don’t want to do that, “you can release paper statements if you want.”
A: “Please tell me more about my job if I get to tell you more about yours…”
Pretty sure Donald Trump tells the press about their job All. The. Time. He tells them—and the entire country—lies, but he’s definitely into talking about what the media should and should not be doing. (Praising him and challenging him, respectively.) But not even taking questions to give the traditional Trump administration lies or evasions for answers? That really is refusing to do the job, and showing contempt not just for reporters but for anyone in the country who might want more information than is included in a White House press release or a Trump tweet.