Connecticut Democratic congressman Jim Himes is introducing the Free Press Act, which he says is essential to prevent the Trump administration from clamping down on media coverage of the president.
Himes, a Fairfield County Democrat who can be seen on cable news pretty regularly, says that in six of the past nine weeks, one televised press briefing a week was held. This is far fewer than the number of briefings held by the past administrations, he says.
According to Rep. Himes’ office, the average number of weekly briefings for Bill Clinton was 4.38, for George W. Bush it was 3.42 and and for Barack Obama it was 3.75. It’s 2.7 for Trump, a number that includes off-camera briefings.
The limited on-air access comes amid the probe into the ties between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, including the revelation that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer to try to collect dirt on then-candidate Hillary Clinton.
“This is the first administration in history that has explicitly sort of targeted the media as purveyors of fake news and enemies of the American people,” Himes said Friday. “That’s a very dangerous thing. As a politician, I understand the media can be annoying from time to time. (But) the media plays an essential role holding people like me and the president, our feet to the fire.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer hasn’t conducted a briefing since June 20, with deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders seemingly taking over. The White House has increasingly held briefings off-camera in recent months.