More than a dozen former White House communications and press officials from both parties have banded together to argue that the Trump regime actually needs a press secretary conducting regular press briefings, considering the White House is now going on its tenth consecutive month without one.
All of us have experienced the challenges of a regular press briefing whether at the White House, the State Department or the Pentagon. We all had days where the last place we wanted to be was behind one of those podiums. But day after day, we persisted.
We believed that regular briefings were good for the American people, important for the administrations we served, and critical for the governing of our great country.
We'd like to share what we mean by that. In any great democracy, an informed public strengthens the nation. The public has a right to know what its government is doing, and the government has a duty to explain what it is doing.
For the president and the administration this is a matter of both self-interest and national interest. The presidents we served believed a better-informed public would be more supportive of the president's policy and political objectives.
And a well-informed citizenry would be better equipped to understand the difficult choices and decisions presidents must make, especially in times of crisis and challenge. Bringing the American people in on the process, early and often, makes for better democracy.
An informed press corps strengthens our ability to govern. Yes, presidents are now able to communicate directly via the internet, social media and tweets. But most Americans will learn about the work of the White House in the reports they see, read, and hear in what we collectively call "the press."
The press will report a story to the best of their ability whether they are briefed by the administration or not. But regular briefings generally lead to better and more responsible reporting.
The process of preparing for regular briefings makes the government run better. The sharing of information, known as official guidance, among government officials and agencies helps ensure that an administration speaks with one voice, telling one story, however compelling it might be.
Regular briefings also force a certain discipline on government decision making. Knowing there are briefings scheduled is a powerful incentive for administration officials to complete a policy process on time. Put another way, no presidents want their briefers to say, day after day, we haven't figured that one out yet.
Current WH press flack Stephanie Grisham has one job, and that's to appear on FOX News State TV and launder information, and this information blackout makes 100% sense when you realize that of all the benefits of regular press briefings as maintenance of the body politic, the Trump regime wants precisely none of them.
Grisham responded Sunday night to the piece, and it was exactly what you expected.
"This is groupthink at its finest. The press has unprecedented access to President Trump, yet they continue to complain because they can't grandstand on TV," Grisham told Axios in response to the opinion piece. "They're not looking for information, they're looking for a moment. This President is unorthodox in everything he's done. He's rewritten the rules of politics. His press secretary and everyone else in the administration is reflective of that."
The Trump regime doesn't want a "well-informed citizenry" because an informed public would know the regime is lying to them constantly.
The Trump regime doesn't want to "strengthen our ability to govern" because it wants autocracy and fealty to the Cult of Trump.
The Trump regime doesn't want to make the "government run better" because it wants a broken government unable to resist it.
The Trump regime especially doesn't want to "force a certain discipline on government decision making" because it has no discipline and no goal other than to serve Donald Trump and his family.
Besides, Trump can tweet and use FOX, Rush Limbaugh, Breitbart, and whatever else he has in his propaganda arsenal to make the rest of the world play catch-up. Here's a perfect example:
It’s currently 53°F (12°C) here. Definitely not snowing. https://t.co/XcfgUJCFzr— Steve Herman (@W7VOA) January 13, 2020
This regime will most likely never hold another press briefing again. It doesn't need to. It wants the press gone so it can never be held accountable. Our press still refuses to believe this. Maybe it will happen out of Trump caprice once every few months, but even that looks more and more unlikely now.
And most of the fault of that situation rests entirely on the shoulders of the people who cover the White House, and the people who served as mouthpieces for them, in other words, the very people attaching their names to this piece.