Important questions still loom about how Donald Trump, as president, will interact with the press. A big speculation: who will be his Press Secretary? What we do know is his press office will not resemble anything that's come before.
During the campaign, Trump blacklisted certain outlets for what he deemed unfriendly reporting, including Politico, The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed and The Washington Post. Some fear he may retaliate again as president.
Trump has yet to hold an open press conference during the transition period. According to NPR, he has not held a press conference in 145 days. Meantime, he has sent out 1,481 tweets.
Obama held near-daily press conferences during his transition. Robert Gibbs was announced as his first Press Secretary on November 22, a few weeks after Election Day.
While Donald Trump hasn't decided who will run his press office, there appears to be a few likely candidates, including Kellyanne Conway, Sean Spicer and Laura Ingraham.
Speaking with Politico at a cocktail chat last Friday, Spicer gave some insight into how a Trump press operation would function. He particularly suggested the White House press office may not need to hold daily briefings. Members of the public could ask questions, rather than just credentialed news outlets.
“In Washington, too often we say, well this is how it’s always been done, let’s just keep it going,” Spicer told Jake Sherman and Anna Palmer of Politico. “For too long, we’ve had this very stale operation, which is all the mainstream media folks get front row seats and it's a question of here are the broadcast networks. But what about some of the conservative media having some of the prized seats in there? What about having some of the top bloggers being able to come in?”
(The truth: Seating assignments are selected by the White House Correspondent's Association, not the Press Secretary or White House staff. Since 2010, conservative Fox News has held a coveted front-row seat.)
Spicer says this is "a conversation worth having.”
While the “conversation” may be worth having, precedent suggests Trump's press office will be significantly more abrasive and less forthcoming with the Fourth Estate. Instead, we may expect news from the White House to come in the form of Tweets and other digital media.If access is restricted, it means the press, which represents the American people, will be unable to ask the president tough questions, or subject his policies to close scrutiny. The press corps has a duty to demand access, though fears of reprisal may make those efforts increasingly difficult. That's a chilling prospect for a democracy.
As former Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black noted: "The Founding Fathers gave the free press the protection it must have to bare the secrets of government and inform the people."