Reporters Moan About Trump’s Frequent Press Conferences
President Donald Trump frequently speaks to reporters outside the White House before departing on trips, but journalists are complaining about various aspects of the press conferences.
On Aug. 21, Trump spoke with reporters for nearly 40 minutes outside the White House, taking a number of questions from a range of reporters.
Reporters took to Twitter afterwards to moan about the situation.
“That sweaty gaggle lasted nearly 40 minutes in almost 90 degree DC heat. One reporter’s cellphone auto-shut down due to the hot temperature, midway through Trump’s remarks,” Jennifer Jacobs of Bloomberg wrote on Twitter.
Trump before his Kentucky trip seemed to toy with press, immobilized in tight pack in full sun for 75 minutes. WH had press assembled at 11:01. He emerged from Oval at 11:40, torturously gave a just-a-minute finger, re-emerged 45 seconds later. He (“chosen one”) spoke til 12:16p.
— Jennifer Jacobs (@JenniferJJacobs) August 22, 2019
“Trump before his Kentucky trip seemed to toy with press, immobilized in tight pack in full sun for 75 minutes. WH had press assembled at 11:01. He emerged from Oval at 11:40, torturously gave a just-a-minute finger, re-emerged 45 seconds later. He (‘chosen one’) spoke til 12:16p,” she added.
Jeff Mason of Reuters called the press conference a “long back and forth.”
Trump speaks to reporters most weekdays, often standing with Marine One in the backdrop.
Other reporters complained to Politico about the situation, seemingly wanting to hear from Trump’s subordinates in a more comfortable setting.
“There’s no question that it works to his advantage that we look unruly and disorderly,” Peter Baker of the New York Times told the outlet. “It’s not like standing at a podium in the East Room or the briefing room, where you can have a civilized calling on people who raise their hands.”
Trump has spoken to reporters before departing or after returning from trips, according to Mark Knoller, a CBS reporter. According to the White House Transition Project (pdf), Trump has answered questions at a larger percentage of his public speaking events than his four predecessors. In total, through the first 30 months of his presidency, Trump had the highest number of presidential press interactions.
“President Trump uses question-and-answer sessions to respond to a variety of questions in a fairly undisciplined forum where the President decides who he will call on and what subjects he will discuss. These sessions represent a contrast with solo press conferences, which are structured, where reporters have follow-up questions, and can build on the questions asked by others,” wrote Martha Joynt Kumar, director of the project and a Towson University professor.
“From a practical standpoint, the question-and-answer sessions represent something of a free-for-all where President Trump is the ringmaster. While other presidents have held these sessions, they have done so more as a way of responding to reporters between the more formal press conferences than as a substitute for them,” she added.
Several reporters told Politico they like having near-daily access to the president.
“President Trump communicates directly with the American people more than any President in history,” White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham told Politico. “The fact that the White House press corps can no longer grandstand on TV is of no concern to us.”
Do you get paid for your job? You can always find a different job if you don’t like it. He is 71 and in the same conditions right? I bet you make 3x what many people make who stand in the sun working 8 hours a day. IOW stop whining.
— Gimli (@UnumDeum) August 22, 2019
Reactions to Jacobs’s tweet shed light on how some people think of the reporters’ complaints.
“You wanted access you have it,” wrote one Twitter user.
“A 73-year-old heavily-attired man had gone toe-to-toe with each and every one of you non-stop for 40 minutes in the 90-degree heat, before he headed for his main task of the day, like it was just a warm-up act,” added another.
“Earn your living. Lots of workers do this for 40hr or more per week. And do it come rain, snow, and cold. Isn’t life tough!” said another.