- REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
The US State Department initially sparked some confusion when it decided not to hold on-camera press briefings in the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration. After resuming less than three weeks ago, the agency briefings have stopped once again.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the department’s acting spokesman, Mark Toner, has been given another assignment, and officials say the briefings will be on hold for at least two weeks – until Secretary of State Rex Tillerson decides on a permanent replacement.
In the meantime, the State Department said it would conduct background briefings in which officials would periodically brief the press on specific topics. Before the Trump administration, the State Department had conducted on-camera press briefings – something foreign officials and American diplomats traditionally look to for guidance – on a daily basis.
Tillerson drew early criticism for his guarded demeanor toward reporters. During his first diplomatic trip to Asia, he declined to take the press on board a State Department plane – except for one reporter from the conservative-leaning Independent Journal Review.
Tillerson said in an interview with a reporter from that publication: “I’m not a big media press access person. I personally don’t need it. I understand it’s important to get the message of what we’re doing out, but I also think there’s only a purpose in getting the message out when there’s something to be done.”