The Trump White House faced 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 film or record audio of the proceedings.
The administration ― which only last week vowed to be “aggressively transparent” with the public about the spread of the virus that has now killed nine people in the U.S. ― only allowed still photographs to be taken, CNN’s Jim Acosta and other journalists in attendance tweeted.
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
“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.
We need transparency.
Instead we are getting this. https://t.co/0z6yXdodE0
— Judd Legum (@JuddLegum) March 3, 2020
— Lindsay Cohen (is wearing a mask) (@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
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
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@senatemajldrhttps://t.co/flU4QD32Rn
— Laura Rozen (@lrozen) March 3, 2020
Not how a functioning democracy works. https://t.co/Cg7xBadjXx
— David Rothschild (@DavMicRot) March 3, 2020
No audio or video allowed...for a virus that is spreading.
— Don Winslow (@donwinslow) March 3, 2020
Where is that executive order about free speech on campus again? https://t.co/mwa78iiA9n
— Don Moynihan (@donmoyn) March 4, 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 Boo th (@mboothdenver) March 3, 2020
What a ridiculous decision. This is the most incompetent Administration imaginable. https://t.co/JpmcH1gqr2
— Fred Wellman (@FPWellman) March 3, 2020
What's going on here? Yesterday @VP bragged about how "we’ll be back here everyday. Get used to seeing us."
But now, no cameras or even audio? This reeks of an effort to avoid scrutiny in real time from the public health community. https://t.co/rN0LVhuUGD
— Matt Shuham (@mattshuham) March 3, 2020
“Don’t mind me, I’m just taking 30 still photos per second.” https://t.co/VspzubFZAv
— Brent Jones (@brentajones) March 3, 2020
No, actually that's video. It's their cunning new plan. Remain absolutely motionless, and maybe the virus won't spot you. These guys are on top of it after all. https://t.co/PT0tu99n0J
— Michael Marshall Smith (@ememess) March 3, 2020
I hope someone has a hidden mic. https://t.co/ljuGyqSxu4
— Jeffrey Guterman (@JeffreyGuterman) March 3, 2020
Controlling the message, not the outbreak. https://t.co/VfbY3pHyyU
— Schooley (@Rschooley) March 3, 2020
No audio or video? Authoritarian response to cover up the sheer incompetence! https://t.co/Hq7rdY1qfC
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) 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
Surely someone in that room is going to be a hero, right? If the commitment to journalism is such that some of you can’t feel you should even vote, certainly you’d feel compelled to make sure the people heard and...we aren’t getting tape, are we? https://t.co/n3wjJs4IsU
— Jamilah Lemieux (@JamilahLemieux) March 3, 2020
That's probably the best way to make sure nothing is misquoted or taken out of context.
Oh wait, no, sorry, I meant that is probably the best way to BE SURE things are misquoted or taken out of context.
This is fine. https://t.co/RNAQxQtfOl
— 12 Days (@mattsingley) March 4, 2020
— Lynn Comella (@LynnComella) March 3, 2020
— Aisha Sultan (@AishaS) March 3, 2020
This article originally appeared on HuffPost.