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Is the White House Planning to Abolish the Briefing?

An article by a former White House press aide demanding an end to the televised daily briefing begs the question of whether the White House is floating a trial balloon that could lead to the briefing’s cancellation.

Reid Cherlin, a former Obama press aide who is now a freelance journalist, has just published a piece in The New Republic titled “End the White House Press Briefing,” arguing that the session has become a pointless exercise that fails to generate news.

Jay Carney. Photo by Keith Koffler
Jay Carney. Photo by Keith Koffler

While it can’t be proven that anyone in the White House influenced the piece, Cherlin spent years in the bunker with other aides to President Obama and presumably remains in touch with them – or at the very least knows their disposition on the briefing.

The briefing is a daily source of frustration for the White House, which is forced to endure at least some difficult questions each day and dodge them in a way that belies its claim to “openness.”

Cherlin was an Obama adviser for four years, including service on the 2007-2008 presidential campaign and two years in the White House press office after Obama took office. His role as a press aide was in fact to prepare the press secretary for the daily briefings. He also served as a key spokesman for Obamacare while the White House was trying to pass it. Cherlin, though, has suggested in the past that he views his journalism as independent.

In the piece, Cherlin quotes a few current and former White House journalists, but only one – former AP White House reporter Ron Fournier – who says the briefing is a waste of time.

Cherlin presents as Exhibit A for his case a recent episode in which Press Secretary Jay Carney repeatedly sought to dodge questions about whether the White House considered the military takeover in Egypt a “coup,” a term that would force a cutoff of aid. He even mocked Carney a bit  – as I did recently for the same crime – for saying he was being blunt while actually being vague.

Ironically, Carney’s responses, however subtle, produced important news. By not labeling what was obviously a coup as such, Carney established that the White House was reluctant to do something that would end assistance to Egypt. Further, he put the nation’s new leaders on notice by indicating the White House would observe their behavior while taking its time to come to a conclusion about what is or isn’t a coup.

Meanwhile – and here’s where the White House’s real problem with the briefing comes in – it showcased how the White House bends reality to suit its needs, making the exchange a serious exercise in accountability.

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35 Responses to Is the White House Planning to Abolish the Briefing?

  1. This White House seems to want power, privilege, and authority, with nary a hint of accountability.

    I believe the word for that is “despotic.”

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  2. They can’t be caught lying if they never say anything outside of their carefully crafted speeches. WIth no questions.

    Good job America. You voted for this.

  3. America needs to see the depth of deception and outright lies this
    Obama imperial presidency works on everyday. If you can’t see the
    lies and run around that Sparky spouts daily you wouldn’t believe that
    this is America not the one we want.

  4. How does this administration continue to get away with all of this stuff?It is amazing. I pray something sticks every single day, and yes I blame the MSM. If they stop the daily briefings there will be zero accountability, utopia for these clowns.

  5. Sure, why not? It’s not as if anything resembling the truth is shared with the humble chair-sitters once known as journalists.

    The Press sits like good children waiting for a spokesperson of the President to enter the room. Then they endure ridicule, lies, and evasions without a murmur, all for the ‘honor’ of being allowed access to the WhiteHouse and an annual invite to a buffet.

    • Well, I think there may be a few exceptions–people who report and don’t just take dictation. But there is a veneer or overly politeness–or is it timidity? But this is because these self-assured brats do smear and ruin reporters if they can. Cough-Rosen-cough.

  6. Sounds like a no-brainer to me since Obama wants to be Papa Doc dictating and lecturing the “folks”. If his administration has to be held accountable, well, that just destroys all the fun.

  7. Personally, I would prefer a lie detector that emits an electrical shock to the Press Secretery every time he lies. Of course, Mr. Carney probably believes the lies and the device would never work anyway.

  8. I have great respect for Ron Fournier but he is dead wrong on this one. The DB is not a waste of time and it definitely generates news – big news. Without it, the public would not be able to witness the hapless Jay Carney as he grimaces and squirms – telling lie after lie.
    Without it, there would be no public record of all the spin from the lips of the WH spokesman. The MSM would be dependent upon official memorandums from the regime. .We are NOT Venezuela….yet!

    • Well put, Girly 1. The DBs are a farce of what they once were, but they inadvertently say a lot about this administration.

  9. I’m kind of surprised the entire WH doesn’t have black out windows by now. They can see out, no one can see in. Transparency — see we have windows.

  10. Back in the old days, when journalists were real journalists, they created the White House Correspondents Association to stop Woodrow Wilson from doing exactly what Preezy Revenge is doing today. Might as well stop the daily briefings since there are no journalists (present company excluded) with the stones to step up to the plate and demand this regime stop holding private press briefings with their fellow travelers in state-run media.

  11. How about, instead of abolishing this daily prevarication session, we put Carney under oath, under pain of perjury. The White House has an absolute obligation to tell the truth. They can withhold information on the basis of national security, but they need to say plainly, we can’t talk about that right now. This daily dance of making it up as they go along is completely toxic to a free society, which I trust will endure beyond Obama’s remaining time in office.

    • You’re a good person, DMcG. No doubt that if you were put under oath, you would tell the truth and the Devil be shamed.

      However, let’s review the many minions of the WhiteHouse who were sworn to tell the truth as they testified before Congress and then lied throught their teeth. And, then bragged about it.

    • Whenever Obama or any of his people speak publicly, they should be wired up to a lie detector or a voice analyzer. The meter or indicator of the device should be shown in a split screen on the TV so we could determine immediately if yet another whooper was being peddled to us. That would solve many problems.

  12. “Fails to generate news.”
    I have two thoughts on this little snippet. The first is that if they actually asked some tough questions, there might actually be news.

    Secondly, when they receive a response from Carney (we all know he won’t just come out and answer a question honestly) why don’t they actually engage in some investigative journalism. Go do some research. Pull up previous comments, legislation, reporting, etc. from both sides and leave the opinions and veiled (no so much these days) antagonism toward a particular party out of the equation.
    When you have questions like these from yesterday’s briefing it’s no wonder the briefings don’t generate news:

    • Are you disputing the notion that Speaker Boehner is committed to immigration?
    • How quickly will weapons get to Syrian rebels? Is there still time to stop Assad?
    • What are your personal reflections from your time with Helen Thomas?
    • Have you read Mark Leibovich’s book, and does it accurately reflect this town and this administration?
    • Is the aid we are providing Syrian rebels intended to topple Assad?
    • What did the Obamas decide to give the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge for the birth of their first child?
    • VP Biden and wife are in India, is he carrying a message from the President and an invitation to the Prime Minister of India to the White House in September?
    • When is the President going to take the First Family and the First Lady to the Taj Mahal, which he missed during his last visit?
    • You were positive about House Republicans intent to get something done, you now seem pessimistic.
    • Snowden is reported to receive travel documents soon, are any conversations occurring between the President and Russian officials?
    • Is the President still traveling to Moscow?

    Yes, there were some “ok” questions asked. However, the way they are posed allows too much “wiggle room” for the responder. Ask a pointed question, followed up with insistence for an answer. Keep asking the pointed questions until it becomes clear from their refusal to answer they are lying, hiding something, or completely incompetent. Hold their feet to the fire.

    These “news reporters” are giving Carney and Obama the ability to do nothing more than obfuscate. The more they are allowed to talk the more the old saying comes to mind; “dazzle them with brilliance or baffle them with bullshit.” Since most people only do what they know they can get away with, these “journalists” roll out the red carpet titled carte blanche.

  13. The daily WH briefing ought to be a live, candid, honest give and take between the WH spokesperson and the WH press corps. Unfortunately, Obama has placed vapid, inarticulate, almost goofy people in the role of press secretary–Gibbs and Carney. My understanding is that Obama does not admit his press secretaries into the inner, inner sessions where policies are developed (a big mistake), so, to be fair, neither Gibbs, nor Carney is quite tuned in to the background thinking behind Obama’s decisions. That’s why both of them seeme at a lost for words and speak in halting half sentences and with awkward pauses in the middle of sentences.

  14. Jay Carney will be replaced by BHO’s teleprompter to which the crack White House press corpse can ask penetrating questions. We will get about the same amount of actual information.

  15. It’s the fault of the press corps: they’re not all asking the right ‘questions’ to that little squit with the glasses. There’s be a LOT more ‘openness’ if the press would just let that little pantload give out what the OutHouse wants to make public and hot have any of those nasssty questions to answer.