An analysis by the New York Times suggests that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer has preferred questions from journalists representing non-traditional and center-right news outlets over mainstream journalists in his daily press briefings.
Historically, administrations have prioritized questions from journalists sitting in the first two rows of the briefing room, normally assigned to reporters representing mainstream media such as NPR, Associated Press, Fox News and Reuters. Spicer has avoided this tradition and has focused his attention more on “non-mainstream” journalists elsewhere in the briefing room.
In his first Q&A session on the job, Spicer granted the first question to a New York Post journalist who had written a book critical of the Clintons. His second question came from the conservative website LifeZette, founded by radio personality Laura Ingraham (who was also considered by Trump for the press secretary position). None of his first five questions in his first briefing were asked from the front two rows of mainstream outlets. He regularly gives priority during briefings to journalists from conservative-leaning titles such as Breitbart, Newsmax and One America News Network.
In comparison, former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ first five questions in the initial 2009 Obama administration press briefing went to journalists representing mainstream outlets from the first two rows in the seating chart: Associated Press, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News and CNN.
Speaking with Sean Hannity in January, Spicer defended his decision:
“There are voices and issues that the mainstream media sometimes don’t capture, and it’s important for those issues to get as much prominence as some of the mainstream ones.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association – not the administration — has doled out seating assignments in the Press Room since 1981. Additional reporters with no seat assignment stand in the aisles of the room or sit in empty seats.
In an appearance on ABC’s “This Week,” incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on the nation to support the president-elect, instead of focusing and criticizing on his Twitter account.
“So the idea is everyone wants to talk about the tweets he sent. But I would actually focus on the action he’s getting. Donald Trump is not president yet and he’s getting action, successes and wins, both abroad and here at home,” Spicer said.
Spicer explained the media’s focus on Trump’s Twitter account, saying his tweets “freaks the mainstream media out,” because it marginalizes them.
“I think it freaks the mainstream media out that he has this following of over 45-plus million people that follow him on social media, that he can have a direct conversation. He doesn’t have to have it funneled through the media,” Mr. Spicer said. “Business as usual is over, as I’ve said before. There’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s going to do things first and foremost for the American people.”
Members of the press have called on the incoming president and his team to cease hostilities toward the press, and pledge continuing access for the media to his administration.
Visitors can tour the White House year-round, though during the Christmas season welcomes people from around the globe to see a holiday celebration like no other.
The theme for this year is “The Gift of the Holidays,” reflecting on gifts that matter, including “service, friends and family, education and good health,” per the White House press release.
The White House has been transformed into a winter wonderland for the Christmas season, complete with over 6,000 ornaments, 8,000 bows and ribbons, 25,000 yarn pom-poms, and over 50 Lego gingerbread houses. The White House invited 92 volunteers from around the country to assist with decorating this year. Rafanelli Events designed the décor.
Guests will find the White House Gingerbread House weighing in at 150 pounds of gingerbread and 20 pounds of icing. A long-standing tradition during the Christmas season, first ladies Martha Washington and Dolley Madison made a soft version of this cake to treat visitors.
This year, only 10% of the decorations are new, with most being recycled or re-purposed from previous Christmas seasons.
If you wish to tour the White House yourself, you can visit the White House Visitors Office website for more information.
WHC Flashback to Ellis Schafer reflecting on the final Easter Egg Roll of the Obama administration earlier this year. Schafer is the Special Assistant to President Barack Obama and Director of the White House Visitors Office.
The Grand Forks Herald recently featured a story about Ellie Schafer, director of the White House Visitors Office under President Barack Obama and daughter of former North Dakota Governor Ed Schafer.
“Her journey with the Illinois senator who would become president started in 2006 when she worked on his book tour promoting “The Audacity of Hope”….Schafer, daughter of former North Dakota Gov. Ed Schafer, was quickly drawn to Obama, his message, his policy positions, his skills as a leader.”
Schafer’s job is one of the more powerful behind-the-scenes positions at the White House. “A total of 4.8 million people have visited the White House during her tenure, and 3.5 million of those guests were there for a function the visitors office oversaw, said Schafer, who acknowledges her job is taxing.”
As the daughter of a former governor, she “grew up around politics, and even as a kid she’d voice her opinions on the issues.”
“Ed Schafer said he and his daughter agree on the direction they want the country to head, but they differ on how to get there. Because of their close bond, he said, they can have a debate and afterward say, “I still love you.”
“It’s the way you wish politics would work,” he said.”
Read the article on grandforksherald.com: From governor’s daughter to White House official: Ellie Schafer cuts her own political path
White House Social Secretary Jeremy Bernard will be stepping down from his post next month following the Japan State Dinner. His replacement will be announced in the coming weeks.
Statement from Mrs. Obama: “For the last four years, Jeremy has worked tirelessly to open the doors of the White House to as many people as possible and to make each and every event in the White House one to remember, not only for Barack and me, but for the tens of thousands of guests who pass through our doors each year. I was lucky to have such a talented individual on my team, and I am equally lucky to have made a lifelong friend in Jeremy. Jeremy will be missed, and Barack and I wish him the very best in all of his future endeavors.”
Statement from Jeremy Bernard: “It has been an honor to serve the President and Mrs. Obama as Social Secretary for the last four years. From State Dinners to Student Workshops to celebrating the holiday season, Mrs. Obama has welcomed every guest to the White House with her signature warmth, grace and style. I feel so privileged to have worked for such an extraordinary President and First Lady.”
Social secretary Jeremy Bernard gives his first interview to Vogue after four years at The White House. Don’t miss it!
President Obama announced his choices earlier today to replace Energy Secretary Steven Chu, EPA’s Lisa Jackson and Office of Management and Budget.The three nominations came during the president’s first cabinet meeting of 2013.
” I’m proud to nominate another brilliant scientist to take his place — Mr. Ernie Moniz. There’s Ernie right there. Now, the good news is that Ernie already knows his way around the Department of Energy. He is a physicist by training, but he also served as Under Secretary of Energy under President Clinton. Since then, he’s directed MIT’s Energy Initiative, which brings together prominent thinkers and energy companies to develop the technologies that can lead us to more energy independence and also to new jobs,” said Obama.
“At EPA, Gina McCarthy would take over Lisa Jackson’s position and Sylvia Mathews Burnwell would replace Jeff Zients at OMB. As I said before, the American people are resilient. And I know that Jeff and Sylvia will do everything in their power to blunt the impact of these cuts on businesses and middle-class families. But eventually, a lot of people are going to feel some pain. That’s why we’ve got to keep on working to reduce our deficit in a balanced way — an approach that’s supported by the majority of the American people, including a majority of Republicans. And I’m confident that we can get there if people of goodwill come together. So I want to thank Steve and Lisa and Jeff once more for their outstanding service, for all the great work that they’ve done in this administration over the last several years. I want to thank Ernie, Gina and Sylvia, and their families, for agreeing to take on these big roles.”
USA Today pointed out the obvious announcement:”In introducing his new budget director, Burwell, Obama cited her biggest immediate challenge: the sequester, $85 billion in automatic budget cuts over the next seven months that began over the weekend.”
The three will have to go through the Senate, but two of the nominees–per Politico–are bringing the conversation back to the sequester and environment. But that’ll be yet another issue in the coming weeks as the country learns exactly how the sequester will effect the country.
One of the worst parts about the ins and outs of D.C. is the commute, especially if you’re a biker. Unfortunately that’s exactly what Obama’s new Chief of Staff Denis McDonough is about to face with his new role. Announced last week in the Times, among other things a foreign policy expert, McDonough is well known for being cycled through the District on his bike.
Except not for much longer, as DCist found. McDonough’s preferred method of transportation isn’t an option once he’s formally accepted. USA Today found the line from the president that “Dad will probably have to stop riding his bike to work as chief of staff…I don’t think that’s allowed.”
So what’s a jilted cycling machine like McDonough to do? Inspire a hashtag on Twitter! The League of American Cyclists’ Andy Clarke created #letdenisride over at the LAC’s blog. He’s already come up with five reasons to keep McDonough in a bike seat over the Metro or an Uber car including “he’ll never get stuck in traffic in times of emergency.”
To be fair, riding your bike around the White House is not only dangerous but near suicidal. Even with bike lanes, anything on two wheels seems to be prey to buses, speeding cars or the legion of Circulators that loop around the Hay-Adams. No matter what reason folks find to #letdenisride we’re siding with the president when it comes to keeping McDonough in a car, waiting in traffic like the rest of us commuting back and forth through the District. Then again, it’s not like biking from Maryland into D.C. is faster than Metro.
The 113th United States Congress was sworn into office Thursday with the traditional smooth moves of Vice President Biden.
CNN frames the 113th by the numbers while Buzzfeed keeps running with them into the 11 Surprisingly Endearing Pictures of Congressmen Getting Sworn In. MSNBC breaks down the race and sexuality of the new congress–also by the numbers–while the National Journal completes its own link dump.
Which is why we come back to the Veep video. You can break down Congress all you want with your lists of numbers, numbered lists and numerals followed by links. At the end of the work day all hardworking people care about is how smooth is that man that made it cool to commute from Delaware to D.C. While the actual staffers are fretting about upcoming legislation or freaking out about jobs numbers. Stop. Relax.
And then sign this petition to have an official reality show about Biden:
Vice President Joe Biden has a demonstrated ability to bring people together, whether at the negotiating table or at the neighborhood diner. We, therefore, urge the Obama Administration to authorize the production of a recurring C-SPAN television program featuring the daily activities and interactions of the Vice President with elected officials, foreign dignitaries and everyday American families. Such a program would educate the American public about the duties and responsibilities of their Vice President, while providing a glimpse of the lighthearted side of politics even in the midst of contentious and divisive national debates.
We’ve got until February 3rd.