Spicer’s false crowd size boast, the Mooch’s only show and other memorable White House briefing moments of 2017

This is the year that White House press briefings became must-see TV - when they were on TV, that is. Access for television cameras was a point of contention between journalists and President Trump's administration in 2017. The enduring legacy of Anthony Scaramucci's 10-day stint as White House communications director is that he restored consistent, live telecasts of question-and-answer sessions.Interactions between reporters and the president's spokesmen produced many memorable moments, on camera and off. Here are 10 that stand out."The largest audience"The day after Trump's inauguration, White House press secretary Sean Spicer made his debut in the briefing room and angrily insisted that Trump had drawn "the largest audience to ever witness an inauguration -- period -- both in person and around the globe."This was a false statement. As news outlets had reported, Barack Obama's 2009 swearing-in attracted a bigger crowd.Spicer's inaccurate account and irate tone put the relationship between the White House and the press corps on a choppy course. It also helped inspire Melissa McCarthy's impression of Spicer on "Saturday Night Live," which she performed for the first time two weeks later.After resigning, Spicer said he "absolutely" regrets the assertion on the inauguration crowd size.Sorry, you're not on the listWhen Trump thrashed the press in an address to the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Spicer held an off-camera briefing at the White House and barred certain media organizations, including CNN, the New York Times, Politico and BuzzFeed. Outlets that generally cover the president more favorably, such as Fox News, Breitbart News and the Washington Times, were allowed to attend."Nothing like this has ever happened at the White House in our long history of covering multiple administrations of different parties," Times executive editor Dean Baquet said at the time.Washington Post executive editor Martin Baron said, "This is an undemocratic path Continue Reading

Full Text: White House Briefing on Bin Laden Killing

PRESS BRIEFING BY SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIALS ON THE KILLING OF OSAMA BIN LADEN Via Conference Call 12:03 A.M. EDT MR. VIETOR: Thank you, everyone, for joining us, especially so late. We wanted to get you on the line quickly with some senior administration officials to talk about the operation today regarding Osama bin Laden. And with that I’ll turn it over to our first senior administration official. SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks for joining us, everybody, at this late hour. It’s much appreciated.  From the outset of the administration, the President has placed the highest priority in protecting the nation from the threat of terrorism. In line with this, we have pursued an intensified, targeted, and global effort to degrade and defeat al Qaeda. Included in this effort has been a relentless set of steps that we’ve taken to locate and bring Osama bin Laden to justice. Indeed, in the earliest days of the administration, the President formally instructed the intelligence community and his counterterrorism advisors to make the pursuit of Osama bin Laden, as the leader of al Qaeda, as a top priority. In the beginning of September of last year, the CIA began to work with the President on a set of assessments that led it to believe that in fact it was possible that Osama bin Laden may be located at a compound in Pakistan. By mid-February, through a series of intensive meetings at the White House and with the President, we had determined there was a sound intelligence basis for pursuing this in an aggressive way and developing courses of action to pursue Osama bin Laden at this location.  In the middle of March, the President began a series of National Security Council meetings that he chaired to pursue again the intelligence basis and to develop courses of action to bring justice to Osama bin Laden. Indeed, by my count, the President chaired no fewer than five National Security Council meetings on the topic from the middle of Continue Reading

Conservative outlets given seats in White House briefing room as changes made to arrangement for first time since 2015

Two additional conservative outlets have been given official seats in the White House briefing room. The change stems from a seating chart released by the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) on Friday. Conservative networks Newsmax and One America News have been given spots in the room, along with British newspaper The Daily Mail, Politico reports. One America News will share a seat with the BBC. Other revisions — for the first time since 2015 — include the Huffington Post and the Spanish-language network Univision earning shared seats. USA Today will now occupy the second row, as it switches spots with AP Radio. The first row remains unchanged — designated for major networks and news wires. Under the leadership of the past two administrations, the WHCA has orchestrated the seating arrangement, not the White House staff. Officials in the White House, however, have lobbied to make changes to the layout, moving forward. “The board considered multiple criteria during this decision-making process, including regular briefing attendance and commitment to the White House beat, (and) we did not want scarce real estate going unused,” WHCA President Jeff Mason said of the revision in an email to the organization. “We also looked at the news outlets’ audiences, both in terms of reach and in terms of preserving (or in some cases adding) diversity in the briefing room,” he added. Mason said the association “took stock of the changing landscape of our industry," according to Politico. He called the process “difficult” and one that affects many news operations. The Daily News shares a seat with the Huffington Post in the sixth row. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

SEE IT: Rob Gronkowski crashes White House briefing to ask Sean Spicer if he needed a hand

WASHINGTON — New England Patriots star Rob Gronkowski crashed the White House briefing on Wednesday, catching Patriots super-fan and White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer by surprise during his daily briefing. "Sean, need some help?" Gronkowski said, sticking his head out of the press room. "I think I got this but thank you. Uh, maybe," a Spicer said, laughing after his initial shock. "All right. That was cool. How do you follow that?" a grinning Spicer said before returning to the briefing. The Patriots are in town to celebrate their Super Bowl win, though their biggest star, Tom Brady, isn't around,citing a family emergency for skipping the Rose Garden event. Continue Reading

President Trump demands no more anonymous ‘sources’ shortly after anonymous White House briefing

WASHINGTON — President Trump demanded that the “fake media” stop quoting sources on background without using their names on Friday — hours after White House officials held a briefing where they insisted on anonymity. “No more sources,” Trump declared at the Conservative Political Action Conference, saying journalists “shouldn’t be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody’s name.” That demand came in the latest salvo of attacks from Trump and his administration against the media. “I want you to know that we are fighting the fake news. It’s fake, phony, fake. A few days ago I called the fake news the enemy of the people and they are, they are the enemy of the people. Because they have no sources, they just make them up when there are none,” Trump declared. Trump’s demands that reporters only use on-record quotes and information runs directly counter to how his own White House has operated. Trump officials routinely demand anonymity to talk “on background” about key issues. That hadn’t changed Friday, when Trump staff required they be labeled “senior administration officials” as they pushed back against reports that the FBI is investigating ties between Trump’s team and Russia. The White House had asked the FBI to publicly say the story is false, as White House officials claim senior FBI officials have told them. While later pushing back on the story, White House press secretary Sean Spicer confirmed key details were true — that Trump chief of staff Reince Priebus had asked FBI Director James Comey to knock down the Russia story. Trump, meanwhile, took to Twitter to complain about the FBI. “The FBI is totally unable to stop the national security ‘leakers’ that have permeated our government for a long time,” he wrote. “They Continue Reading

VIDEO: Obamas’ new dog shows off her ‘Sunny’ disposition at White House briefing

Obama's new dog mingled with the press Monday, soaking up attention from members of the media. Though a handler tried to usher the puppy away from ruthless reporters, Sunny lay down and invited gawkers to rub her stomach. April Ryan, White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks, captured video of the publicity-loving pooch who happily poked her head into the White House briefing room during a stroll. "Your daddy doesn't even like going into the press room," Ryan joked in the video. "She's trusting us," Ryan added about the 1-year-old Portuguese water dog. The first family revealed Sunny was joining the clan in August, as a playmate to 4-year-old Bo. CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

New to the White House briefing: Letters from the outside

Attention, America: If you write the president a letter or email, you might get a shoutout in the next press briefing.Trump spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced Wednesday that occasionally, the briefing would begin with letters and emails (presumably ones that reflect the president in a positive light)."To remind us a little more often about the forgotten men, women and children that we're here to serve and that the president is fighting for, we're going to start the White House briefing every once in a while with a letter or an email we may receive from some of those individuals," Huckabee said.Wednesday's letter came from 9-year-old Dylan.Here's the letter from Dylan (with some spelling fixes on our end): Dear President Trump, My name is Dylan, but everybody calls me "Pickle." I'm 9 years old and you're my favorite president. I like you so much I had a birthday about you. My cake was the shape of your hat. How old are you? How big is the White House? How much money do you have? I don't know why people don't like you. You seem nice. Can we be friends? My picture is in here, so if you see me, you can say hi. Your friend DylanAs Sanders read the letter, she provided answers to the questions: Trump is 71 years old Various minutiae about the White House's size On how much money he has: "I'm not sure, but I know it's a lot." On  not knowing why people don't like him: "Me either, Dylan." On being friends: "He will be more than happy to be your friend."   Continue Reading

Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski crashes White House briefing, offers Sean Spicer help

White House spokesman Sean Spicer got an unusual offer of help Wednesday: assistance from a professional football player."Sean, you need some help?" New England Patriot tight end Rob Gronkowski said after opening the door to the White House briefing room."I think I got this, but thank you," Spicer replied."You sure?" Gronkowski shot back."Maybe," Spicer said. "All right, thanks, man. I'll see you in a minute."After Gronkowski left, the press secretary (and Patriots fan) told reporters, "All right, that was cool."Gronkowski and the rest of the Patriots, winners of this year's Super Bowl, are on campus for an event with President Trump. Continue Reading

Fox News gunning for Helen Thomas’ front-row seat in the White House briefing room

WASHINGTON - Long before Helen Thomas resigned under fire Monday, Fox News had trained its sights on grabbing her coveted front-row seat in the White House briefing room.Sources within the White House Correspondents' Association, which oversees the seating chart, told the Daily News that Fox, the nation's largest cable news outlet, has argued for years it belongs in the front row, where CNN, ABC and MSNBC (represented by NBC) already reside with the Associated Press and Reuters.Media sources said The Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Bloomberg News and Washington Post are also making pitches for the now-vacant prime real estate.The association board plans to decide as early as Thursday who gets the seat.The uproar over Thomas' anti-Israel remarks triggered a feeding frenzy in the briefing room as other news organizations maneuvered to move their own seats up in the musical chairs sweepstakes.In the George W. Bush administration, press secretary Ari Fleischer - who led the charge to get Thomas fired over the weekend - pressured the correspondents' association to alter the seating chart. He managed to get some organizations considered sympathetic to the administration better seats in the pecking order.When Thomas left United Press International after the Unification Church bought the wire service in 2000, she would normally have had to relinquish the seat. But she kept what became known as "the Helen Thomas seat" out of respect for her long and distinguished tenure as a White House regular. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Basta! White House brief disses Silvio Berlusconi, Italy

TOYAKO, Japan - Sorry about that, Silvio.An embarrassed White House apologized Tuesday for an "unfortunate mistake" - the distribution of a less-than-flattering biography of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi at the Group of 8 summit. Still, the gaffe led to headlines in Italy. The biography described Berlusconi as one of the "most controversial leaders in the history of a country known for government corruption and vice." It noted he campaigned on a promise to "purge the notoriously lackadaisical Italian government of corruption." The summary was buried in a nearly inch-thick background tome the White House distributed at the summit of major economic powers. The press kit was handed out to the White House traveling press corps. Just last month, Berlusconi welcomed President Bush to Rome, calling him "a personal friend of mine and also a great friend of Italy." Bush responded then: "You're right. We're good friends." Join the Conversation: Continue Reading