The Trump White House is facing widespread criticism on Tuesday after Vice President Mike Pence conducted a press briefing on the coronavirus outbreak, but members of the media were not allowed to record video or audio of the event.
The move triggered a fierce backlash with people accusing the Trump administration of being more concerned with managing the optics of the outbreak, rather than the outbreak itself.
CNN’s Jim Acosta and other journalists in attendance tweeted their outrage.
“I asked Pence why the Coronavirus briefing is off camera today. He said he believes the briefing will be back on cam tomorrow,” Acosta later posted, noting “the closest thing to an explanation we got” was “when Pence said Trump was on camera a bunch today.”
Obama-era White House chief photographer Pete Souza said he “can’t ever remember a time when a VP or POTUS spoke in the White House press briefing room and video/audio was prohibited.”
“It’s like they’re imploding,” added Walter Shaub, the former head of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
WH is allowing only still photos of this Coronavirus briefing. No audio or video permitted. Here is a photo of the VP as the briefing began. pic.twitter.com/kB05s6IRvO
— Jim Acosta (@Acosta) March 3, 2020
Real effort here to avoid producing images for television coverage of coronavirus https://t.co/MzsCWgTP7q
— Ben Smith (@benyt) March 3, 2020
No audio or video allowed at this coronavirus press conference.
So…the public can’t see & hear—and evaluate what’s happening for themselves.
If it’s an emergency, the public needs to be informed.
If it’s not an emergency, the public should be told. https://t.co/buHwPm1DiR
— Joanne Freeman (@jbf1755) March 3, 2020
We need transparency.
Instead we are getting this. https://t.co/0z6yXdodE0
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 3, 2020
— Lindsay Cohen (@lindsaycohen) March 4, 2020
So the purpose of the briefing isn't to communicate vital information to the public, but just to serve as a photo op?
— Kevin M. Kruse (@KevinMKruse) March 3, 2020
This is the most b.s. I have ever seen. We deserve to hear and see what is going on. https://t.co/8fJnu0kAC3
— Eric Garcia (@EricG1247) March 3, 2020
I can't ever remember a time when a VP or POTUS spoke in the White House press briefing room and video/audio was prohibited. Maybe ask resident expert @markknoller if this is a first. https://t.co/EXjmkgPVhp
— Pete Souza (@PeteSouza) March 3, 2020
No audio or video permitted at Pence WH coronavirus press conference, absolutely outrageous and will further signal the public that the Trump admin doesn’t have a handle on this @SenSchumer @SpeakerPelosi @KevinMcCarthyTV @senatemajldr https://t.co/flU4QD32Rn
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) March 3, 2020
If you understand politics primarily as narrative, as both the president and some of the people covering him do, you don't get how bad this could get https://t.co/wZu0YOmCoz
— 'Weird Alex' Pareene (@pareene) March 3, 2020
Not how a functioning democracy works. https://t.co/Cg7xBadjXx
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) March 3, 2020
The White House has prohibited audio and video at its coronavirus briefing. It's like they're imploding. https://t.co/zNDwUe3vZu
— Walter Shaub (@waltshaub) March 3, 2020
No audio or video allowed…for a virus that is spreading.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) March 3, 2020
— Rep. Harley Rouda (@RepHarley) March 3, 2020
To be clear – a briefing intended to inform the public and keep the public safe is being blocked from the public? https://t.co/OOSli6V4ja
— Sarah Brooks (@Sarah_K_Brooks) March 4, 2020
This is how you act when you are 99% certain that one of your people is going to say something 100% wrong. https://t.co/mNt4iqMoS9
— Michael Booth (@mboothdenver) March 3, 2020
This is absurd. Are they doing this presser for themselves or for America?? https://t.co/m5qL8jS2Rt
— Katie Phang (@KatiePhang) March 3, 2020
— Benjamin Byron Davis (@Tooda) March 3, 2020
The Trump administration’s coronavirus response has been widely criticized as disorganized and slow. Trump himself has repeatedly sought to downplay the risks, sometimes with outright falsehoods.