In six months as Trump’s press secretary, Ms. Stephanie Grisham has held zero briefings for reporters. By Michael M. Grynbaum and Katie Rogers https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/10/business/media/stephanie-grisham-trump-press-secretary.html … v @nytimes
By Michael M. Grynbaum and
It’s not every day that the White House press secretary is offered $200,000 to appear on camera and explain the president’s decisions — any of them — to the public.
But as one of the most consequential weeks in President Trump’s tenure draws to a close, the world beyond the Beltway is beginning to notice that Stephanie Grisham — unlike her predecessors, colleagues and boss — does not appear to relish the talking-to-the-public part of her job.
In six months as press secretary, Ms. Grisham has held zero briefings for reporters. When she does give interviews, she prefers to leave the West Wing via a side exit and is driven to a studio, rather than walk toward the cameras outside the White House and risk encountering a journalist along the way.
Outside of appearances on Fox News, the One America News Network and the Sinclair Broadcast Group, she rarely goes on TV. Throughout her time in the job, Mr. Trump has wondered why she does not appear on television more often, according to two people familiar with his thinking.
The country’s pre-eminent political spokesperson is virtually unknown to the public. And as the Trump administration scrambled this week to coordinate a public explanation for the killing of an Iranian general, Ms. Grisham kept mostly out of sight. The night that Iran launched missiles into Iraq, she surfaced on Twitter — after a briefing in the Situation Room with the president and other high-level advisers — to accuse CNN of fabricating sources.
Even those sympathetic to the Trump administration seemed befuddled. “If ever there was a time for more briefings, it was the last few days,” said Ari Fleischer, a press secretary to President George W. Bush. He added, though, that briefings had become less useful, given the hostilities between the White House and its press corps.
Ms. Grisham’s under-the-radar style has caused consternation in Washington, where protocol is prized. Now she is facing the kind of scrutiny she has tried to avoid.
On Friday, 13 former White House and military officials — including press secretaries from the three administrations before Trump — published a letter calling for the restoration of press briefings. “Credible men and women, standing in front of those iconic backgrounds at the White House, State Department and Pentagon, are essential to the work the United States must do in the world,” they wrote.
In response, Hogan Gidley, a White House spokesman, dismissed the letter writers as “D.C. establishment swamp creatures.”