Thursday’s White House press briefing was full of surprises. Besides being the first briefing of the new year, it also got off to a slow start because White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders kept reporters waiting for 10 minutes. Then President Donald Trump took over for Sanders by holding the briefing himself. And abruptly leaving without answering any questions.
As expected, he congratulated representative Nancy Pelosi on her return to leadership as Speaker of the House, Mediaite reports. Then he gave a short speech and claimed he’s received more support for his wall during the past few weeks, Raw Story reports. Statistics belie this, however. A CBS mid-November poll showed that more than 59 percent of Americans saying they don’t want a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Additionally, a poll conducted between December 20 and January 2 showed that 50 percent of Americans blame Trump for the shutdown, as compared to 32 percent who hold the Democrats responsible.
Apparently, these facts don’t phase Trump, who capped his speech off by introducing several Border Patrol experts who voiced their support for the border wall.
And after briefly thanking the officials, he left without answering any questions.
Reporters were understandably not amused.
“You’re not taking any questions at all?” one reporter hollered.
“The point of the briefing room is to take questions,” another yelled as clamor ensued.
Most likely more than a few journalists felt the president had merely used them to boost his own agenda, Mediaite notes.
CNN’s Ana Navarro knew exactly what Trump was up to. And said so during a panel discussion right after the briefing. Rather than discussing the numerous ongoing investigations into the Trump White House, the panelists were now focusing on the press briefing.
“He wants to hijack the narrative,” she noted.
“Instead, for 30 minutes we’re talking about what Donald Trump wants us to talk about. Which is Donald Trump. His favorite subject in the world.”
Frustrated journalists responded by taking to the president’s favorite platform — Twitter.
Never mind. He didn’t take questions. You don’t get credit for a press conference if you don’t take questions. https://t.co/tDgrD7xg2G
— Matt Fuller (@MEPFuller) January 3, 2019
you have to make news if you want to step on someone else's day https://t.co/aDPG9s0pro
— Alex Roarty (@Alex_Roarty) January 3, 2019
So, President Trump goes to the briefing room. Talks border wall. Has a cast of bald border patrol guys talk about the border wall. And then he leaves without taking questions. Nor does Sarah Sanders take questions. Gonna have to do more than that to take the spotlight off NDP.
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) January 3, 2019
No questions. The president came out with border patrol agents to the podium and called for a wall, while introducing the agents — who echoed his call. "Will there be no questions today?" @kaitlancollins could be heard shouting as everyone retreated.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) January 3, 2019
That was nothing more than a long tweet stream in front of microphones and cameras under the guise of a briefing.
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) January 3, 2019
Here’s a clip of Trump’s speech in the video below, followed by a video of CNN’s panel discussion.
Featured image by NBC News via YouTube video