Sarah Sanders Holds First Press Briefing in 46 Days – for Children

Jennifer Jacobs

(Bloomberg) -- White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders held her first news briefing in 46 days on Thursday. It was for children, and mostly off the record.

Sanders hasn’t taken questions from reporters in the White House’s briefing room since March 11, when she and other officials briefed the press corps on the president’s fiscal 2020 budget proposal.

On Thursday, Sanders invited children of staffers and journalists brought to the White House for Take Your Sons and Daughters to Work Day to sit in their parents’ seats in the briefing room and ask questions. She allowed grown-up journalists watching the event to report two pieces of news: President Donald Trump will deliver a commencement address at the Air Force Academy next month, and NASCAR driver Joey Logano will visit the White House soon.

After fielding questions from the children such as what kind of ice cream Trump likes (two scoops, one vanilla and one chocolate) and what he does for a living (“whatever he wants,” said Sanders’s son, who was at the podium with her), Vice President Mike Pence entered the room.

He was asked how many vacation days he and other White House officials get in a year.

“We work with a president who never stops working,” Pence told the children. One child responded: “That’s weird.”

Sanders has been broadly criticized for essentially abandoning the traditional practice of a daily White House news briefing. A New York Times editorial writer, Michelle Cottle, published a piece on Tuesday about Sanders titled, “Meet the Press? Don’t Bother,” after the press secretary set a record for the longest stretch without an official news briefing, according to The Washington Post.

In Sanders’s place, the president has somewhat taken on the job of briefing the press. Trump often takes questions from reporters at events such as meetings with foreign leaders and when he departs the White House to board the presidential helicopter, essentially turning the occasions into informal news conferences. In that sense, journalists at the White House enjoy far more frequent access to Trump than to his recent predecessors.

But the media encounters tend to be chaotic, with reporters shouting to be heard over each other or the engines of his helicopter, and don’t offer the same opportunity for follow-up questions as in more formal news conferences or interviews.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jennifer Jacobs in Washington at jjacobs68@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Alex Wayne at awayne3@bloomberg.net, Joshua Gallu

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