“That wld be wrong,” Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, a Republican, wrote on Twitter in a pointed response to Mr. Trump’s proposal. “Even We in Senate follow those briefings.”
The White House Correspondents’ Association issued a blunt riposte. “Doing away with briefings would reduce accountability, transparency, and the opportunity for Americans to see that, in the U.S. system, no political figure is above being questioned,” the group’s president, Jeff Mason of Reuters, wrote.
Then there was the hand-wringing from media critics about whether the briefings, which have been carried live on cable news since inauguration weekend, offer much substance to viewers in the first place. The briefing has long been a venue for political reporters to pose tough questions, and for presidential press secretaries to bat those queries away with a mix of obfuscation, spin, semantic acrobatics and the occasional over-the-line falsehood.
With Mr. Trump in charge, and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, at the lectern, the briefings have veered into more epistemological territory. Mr. Spicer has suggested at times that false assertions by the president are true because they are, effectively, true to Mr. Trump.
There have also been many occasions when what was said at the lectern turned out to be flat-out untrue — a problem that drew intense scrutiny this week, when the administration’s account of how Mr. Trump came to fire Mr. Comey was undermined a day later by the president himself.
Speaking with NBC News on Thursday, Mr. Trump made clear that he had planned to fire Mr. Comey regardless of a recommendation from the Justice Department. That forced Mr. Spicer’s understudy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, to concede that she and her staff were not aware of the full story at the press briefing on Wednesday, when she said the president had dismissed Mr. Comey after reading the recommendation. “I went off of the information that I had,” she said.
The blowback prompted Mr. Trump, in the Fox News interview, to lament that the news media clobbers his press team “if they get it just a little wrong.”
“It becomes a big story for two days or three days,” the president told Jeanine Pirro. “And it’s very very unfair to a person in that job.”
Mr. Trump touted the briefings as “the biggest thing on daytime television,” saying, “Press conferences weren’t even covered for Obama, practically. They were on C-SPAN and C-SPAN2.” (In fact, Obama-era briefings were often carried by major news channels.)
Nevertheless, Mr. Spicer’s job security is one of Washington’s favorite topics these days. And while his fate remains unclear, Mr. Trump described him to Ms. Pirro as “a wonderful human being” and “a nice man.”
“He’s doing a good…