White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders walks off after speaking with reporters outside the White House, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/ Evan Vucci)

Sanders says it's laughable that White House is inaccessible

January 23, 2019 - 4:28 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Following the apparent demise of the traditional afternoon briefing of reporters, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News Channel on Wednesday that any notion the Trump administration is not accessible to the press is "absolutely laughable."

"I take questions from reporters every single day," she said.

Sanders' venue for the statement, the morning show "Fox & Friends," was familiar. Since Dec. 18, the day of the last White House press briefing, she's given eight television interviews — six of them on Fox News Channel, according to networks and the liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America. She also appeared once on "CBS This Morning" and had a notably tough interview with Chris Wallace on "Fox News Sunday," which is seen on both the Fox broadcast and cable news network.

Sanders has been interviewed on "Fox & Friends," the agenda-setting morning show popular with Trump supporters, on Dec. 21, Jan. 4, Jan. 9, Jan. 16 and Wednesday. On Tuesday night, she appeared on Sean Hannity's prime-time show, according to Media Matters.

President Donald Trump tweeted a day earlier that he had told Sanders not to bother with the afternoon briefing with White House reporters from all credentialed outlets because she has been treated rudely and inaccurately by the "fake news" media.

"We're in the business of getting information to the American people, not making stars out of people that want to be contributors on CNN and that's a lot of times what we see take place in the briefing room," Sanders said. "We're more than happy to take questions but we think that there should be a certain level of decorum and a certain level of honesty and responsibility that comes with that."

The White House Correspondents Association condemned the discontinuation of the afternoon briefing as a retreat from transparency and accountability. Olivier Knox, president of the WHCA, noted that Sanders takes questions from all reporters in the White House driveway after her live segments on Fox News. Other White House officials, like Trump aide Kellyanne Conway, frequently do the same.

He said those "gaggles" are basically briefings by another name. But with no set time for these meetings, reporters from smaller news outlets that work both inside and outside of the White House can't always be there to get their questions answered, he said.

Fox News is Trump's most frequent venue of choice for interviews, too. A study by Towson State University said that in his first two years in office, Trump was second only to President Bill Clinton in the amount of interviews, news conferences and informal question-and-answer sessions, for a time period dating back to President Ronald Reagan's administration.