- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
White House press secretary Sean Spicer is entering his second week largely off camera and out of the White House briefing room.
ABC White House correspondent Jon Karl pointed out on Twitter that President Donald Trump’s press secretary hasn’t held a formal briefing in over a week, a trend set to continue on Monday with no formal briefing scheduled.
Over the past week, Spicer has eschewed the formal briefings for informal press gaggles, which are typically much shorter than normal briefings, and typical when the president is traveling.
Spicer’s weeklong break is somewhat unusual. Former President Barack Obama’s White House press secretary Josh Earnest held a formal briefing about once every 2.6 days during his tenure.
The decision to hold informal gaggles came after another tumultuous week for the new White House and the press secretary himself.
In an interview with Fox News last week, Trump gave his communications operation a “C-plus” grade, which was widely interpreted as a shot at Spicer, who oversees communications for the new White House.
And much of the positive coverage of Trump’s State of the Union speech on Tuesday was quickly overshadowed by revelations that Attorney General Jeff Sessions appeared to deliver false testimony to Congress about his meetings with Russia. Trump ignited another firestorm on Saturday when he accused Obama without evidence of ordering Trump’s phones tapped during the 2016 campaign.
Though he’s offered several statements on the topic, Spicer has largely allowed other surrogates to defend Trump’s allegations about Obama.
Deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders sat for several interviews on ABC and NBC to defend the allegations on Sunday and Monday.
And after saying she’d spend less time on television amid outcry over her evasive responses to interview questions and outright endorsement of Ivanka Trump’s fashion line, even Trump counselor Kellyanne Conway sat for several interviews defending Trump’s wiretapping allegations.
The lack of a daily press briefing is one of several trends that have concerned some journalists covering the administration.
The president has occasionally ditched the White House pool reporter, a rotating job intended to keep Americans informed about the president’s whereabouts, particularly in case of a national emergency. Trump signed a new executive order on Monday off camera without any pool reporters present.
Though Spicer has largely kept the format intact, he’s experimented with several changes, including taking questions from smaller outlets across the country via Skype.
Spicer’s press briefings have been shorter on average than many press briefings under former President Barack Obama, appearing more consistent with short press briefings during former President George W. Bush’s tenure.
The White House did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.