Even as President Obama prepares to commit an act of war in Syria, the White House has scaled back the public questioning it will tolerate about what the president is doing, holding only one televised briefing in the past seven days to justify the president’s position to the American people.
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has all but disappeared, briefing reporters in any forum – televised or not – only once since holding an off-camera “gaggle” aboard Air Force One August 10. Instead, he’s left the job to Principal Deputy White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest.
But even Earnest has been partially in hiding. The White House Press Secretary – or sometimes his deputy – generally goes before the cameras on weekdays when the president is in Washington. But there was no briefing last Wednesday or Friday, and none is schedule for today. Carney briefed last Tuesday and Earnest appeared at the podium of Thursday.
It’s not clear why the self-proclaimed “openness White House” has shut down regular public briefings. Press secretaries, who are prepped by experts from throughout the government, are supposed to be able to hold forth on sensitive issues. Americans are losing a chance to watch the press try to hold the White House accountable, and the White House is missing an opportunity to explain Obama’s shifting positions on Syria.