Bannon: Press Briefings Increasingly Off-Camera Because ‘Sean Got Fatter’

Andrew Harnik/AP

White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon said that White House briefings were increasingly being held off-camera because “Sean got fatter,” referring to White House press secretary Sean Spicer, The Atlantic reported Tuesday.

According to The Atlantic’s Rosie Gray, to whom Bannon made the comment via text message, he did not respond to a follow-up question.

The White House has faced criticism for increasingly holding press briefings off-camera and prohibiting audio recording for some briefings.

“Make no mistake about what we are all witnessing,” CNN’s Jim Acosta wrote on Twitter Monday, after a press briefing in which audiovisual recording devices of any kind were barred. “This is a WH that is stonewalling the news media. Hiding behind no camera/no audio gaggles.”

He added on-air, referring to questions about President Donald Trump’s vague warning to fired FBI Director James Comey that he might have taped their conversations: “The White House is refusing to answer those questions on camera, or in any kind of fashion where we can record the audio. My guess is because they want their evasive answers not saved for posterity.”

The Atlantic noted that both Bloomberg and Politico reported Monday, citing two unnamed people “familiar with the discussions” and “with knowledge of the effort,” respectively, that Spicer was looking for someone to take his place at the podium during press briefings — perhaps so he could move to a different position.

On Monday night, a press guidance email sent to reporters for the following day did not include any scheduled press briefing. On Tuesday morning, an amended version went out with an update: “Press Secretary Sean Spicer will now give an on camera press briefing at 1:30PM.”

Asked by Newsday’s Emily Ngo about the change Tuesday morning, Spicer said: “The guidance will be updated as it has in the past.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.
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