On Tuesday, CNN Newsroom took a brief break from talking about the latest COVID-19 developments to talk about the news that White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is stepping down to return to her job as the first lady's chief of staff, providing Brian Stelter an opportunity to talk about his favorite subject: the White House's war on the press.
Co-host Jim Sciutto led Stelter by observing the current White House's current press team, "Kaitlan [Collins] said it there, in effect the president is his own press secretary here and one who has made attacking the press part of a message."
Stelter naturally concurred. "Yes, and that is unfortunate and part of a three-year strategy to delegitimize the press in this country, and Stephanie Grisham did not stand up to him. No one really seems to stand up to the president when he attacks the media in this way. At least internally nobody stands up to him."
CNN never lamented that Obama's press secretaries weren't "standing up" to Obama and telling him he was wrong. But they mostly seem upset that Team Trump criticizes CNN, and Obama would rarely do that, considering how much they supported him on air.
Of course, the public role of a press secretary is to convey the president's message to the press, not to make the press feel good about themselves or trash their employer in public, especially when the media has a problem with the truth themselves.
Continuing to hurry Grisham out the door, Stelter added:
STELTER: That's why this transition may not matter all that much, but I do think it's disappointing and notable, as Kaitlan said, this a press secretary who never held an on-camera press briefing. The president has been critical of the White House communications operation, even recently he said there was disappointment about not getting his message out the way he wants. Of course, ultimately the message he wants to get out is often times inaccurate.
The public deserves frequent and also accurate White House press briefings and under Stephanie Grisham, they were not frequent, at least until the coronavirus pandemic, and now although they've been happening frequently, they're not accurate, either. Ultimately, that’s the fault of the president. It doesn't seem any press secretary is able to change that in the Trump Administration to date.
Does Stelter really want on-camera briefings or would CNN cut away from showing those too?
Grisham's most famous act as press secretary was actually fighting for increased media access when she was injured during a physical altercation with North Korean security personnel.