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Media Outrage Builds Over Loss of What Spicer Calls ‘Performance Art’

The high-level of antagonism between the media and the White House has risen again to the point where one CNN writer said relations between the Trump administration and the media are “hanging by a thread.”

“The White House is facing daily criticism from the news media over its decision to reduce the frequency of press briefings and hold some of those briefings off camera, depriving the public of a chance to see White House officials answering questions,” wrote Dylan Byers, who in a Friday column suggested that replacing White House press secretary Sean Spicer might be the answer to the problem.

“The White House press office has opted for an ad-hoc strategy intended to screw with the media … and make them look ridiculous. It will go several days without a briefing; then, when media frustration over the lack of access reaches a fever pitch, it will hold a conventional briefing. The next day, it may hold the briefing off camera, starting the process over again,” he wrote.

“The result is a toxic relationship between the White House, which thinks the press should be less adversarial, and the media, which believes its job is to be adversarial. Both sides believe the other side is acting in bad faith, and both are losing respect for one another. And the frayed relationship is occupying more and more of everyone’s time, creating a distraction from issues of greater concern to the general public,” Byers added before writing, based on unnamed sources, that multiple replacements for Spicer have been rejected by those closest to Trump.

While the media rants and raves about the administration, Spicer said in a recent interview that the administration is doing what it promised.

“We made that clear, from the beginning, that in a variety of ways we are going to look to do things differently, to do things better,” Spicer said in an interview with Laura Ingraham. “And this is one area that we’ve done that. And we talked about it literally from the beginning.”

Spicer said the Trump White House made a commitment that it “would be interacting with the press despite some of the bias — free press is part of a democracy — but that we would be doing it in some ways that were different and better,” Spicer added.

“We’ve allowed more access to a lot of folks who haven’t had it. And the bottom line is that I think the mainstream media, who has had a stranglehold on deciding what information the American people got to see, is upset that more people, more voices are getting an opportunity to get involved in having their questions answered, to participate in our democracy,” he said.

Spicer said that many in the media see their public profiles, not what they report, as the prime object of media briefings.

“There’s a lot of them that want to become YouTube stars and ask some snarky question that’s been asked eight times,” Spicer said. “And that’s their right to do that. And so there is a bit of snarkiness now with the press because, again, a lot of them are more focused about getting their clip on air than they are of actually taking the time to understand an issue.”

Although the media loses it when it is briefed off-camera, Spicer said his impression is that off-camera briefings work quite well.

“The nice thing about turning the cameras off sometimes, and I find this, is that it is not ‘performance art,’ as you call it, that you end up having, I think sometimes, a more substantive discussion about actual issues,” he said.