- Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
About two months after President Donald Trump took the oath of office, a key position in the State Department remains unfilled.
The Trump administration has not yet appointed a spokesperson, and the acting spokesperson, Mark Toner, hasn’t been holding regular on-camera press briefings, The Wall Street Journal noted.
There weren’t any on-camera briefings for the first six weeks of the Trump administration, and they’ve stopped soon after they started again at the beginning of the month. The State Department is holding background briefings via phone, but it’s still a significant change from the near-daily briefings under the Obama administration.
The lack of a press person has posed problems outside of just a lack of press briefings.
Rex Tillerson made his first trip to Asia earlier this month as secretary of state, and there was quite a bit of confusion as the press scrambled to keep up with him and get enough access to report what was going on.
Much of the coverage of the trip focused on how little access journalists who report on the State Department had. Members of the press were vocally complaining because only one reporter, from the conservative Independent Journal Review, traveled with Tillerson.
Before the trip, Toner attempted to defend the State Department’s decision to only bring one reporter, but his explanations fell a bit flat as he admitted to reporters that the press arrangement on the Asia trip was an “out-of-the-box decision.”
The Trump administration has reportedly tapped a new spokesperson for the State Department – Fox News anchor Heather Nauert – but her position isn’t yet official, and she is waiting for her security clearance to be approved, according to the Journal.