CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta said Monday that there is a “new normal” at the White House when it comes to administration officials answering questions — and he clearly is not a fan of how the administration conducts business.
During a live report Monday, Acosta berated White House press secretary Sean Spicer, whom he said is “getting to the point where he’s just kind of useless.” Acosta’s comment came after several days of the White House communications staff not allowing reporters to record press briefings on camera. On Monday, Spicer told reporters that audio recordings would also not be allowed.
Reporters were instead brought into the briefing room and allowed to ask questions with no way for them to prove what was being said.
The last time the White House uploaded video to its official YouTube channel was June 12 — exactly one week ago. And while reporters weren’t allowed to record briefings and gaggles in the last several days, the White House put out its own transcripts of the exchanges.
Acosta discussed the issue on air, and quite candidly so, with CNN anchor Brooke Baldwin.
“If he can’t come out and answer the questions and they’re just not going to do this on camera or audio, why are even having these briefings or these gaggles in the first place?” Acosta asked.
Baldwin suggested that perhaps Spicer “just simply doesn’t know” what President Donald Trump believes on the issues. Assuming that was the case, Baldwin asked Acosta, “Why isn’t he having those conversations with the president?”
“It’s a really good question,” Acosta replied, “and it’s a question that I would ask but, unfortunately, at this White House, we wouldn’t have the video or audio to show you the answer to that question because of the stonewalling that we’re getting over here at the White House.”
Acosta then took a moment to point out exactly where he was standing and emphasize one of the most valuable constitutionally protected rights of American democracy: Freedom of the press.
“That’s the White House behind me, the White House. And it’s just — it’s bizarre. I don’t know what world we’re living in right now,” Acosta said. “We’re standing at the White House, and they bring us into the briefing room here at the White House and they won’t answer these questions on camera or let us record the audio. I don’t why everybody is going along with this.”
WH briefing about to start. We're told we cannot use video or audio from this "gaggle." So I took this pic before going in. Shh don't tell. pic.twitter.com/7GcZjJIriS
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 19, 2017
“It just doesn’t make any sense to me and it just feels like we’re sort of slowly but surely being dragged into what is a new normal in this country where the president of the United States is allowed to insulate himself from answering hard questions,” the CNN reporter said.
Acosta referred to several news conferences Trump had with other world leaders during the few months of his time in office so far, “where maybe he’ll take a question from a conservative news media reporter and then somebody from the mainstream media.”
The Spicer off-camera/no audio gaggle has begun. I can't show you a pic of Sean. So here is a look at some new socks I bought over the wknd pic.twitter.com/wO9erspwYa
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) June 19, 2017
Mainstream media reporters voiced frustration over the president calling on reporters from conservative media outlets or other organizations that tend to portray him in a more positive light. During on-camera press briefings, Spicer regularly called on mainstream media reporters, including Acosta. Those few moments, however, weren’t enough, as far as is Acosta is concerned.
“It just — this isn’t how we do things in this country but for whatever reason we’re all going along with it,” a completely baffled Acosta said.
“If they can’t give us the answers to the questions on camera or where we can record the audio, they’re basically pointless at this point,” Acosta added.
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) June 19, 2017