July 24, 2017
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was unwittingly live-streamed at a White House presser, probably turned to dust
by Susan Rella
In President Donald Trump’s Most Best Transparent Glorious Administration of the World, on-camera press briefings have become a thing of the past. In May, Trump even went so far as to threaten to cancel press briefings altogether. And although the White House Press Office stole the White House Press news Friday, there’s one tidbit that should not be allowed to fall under the radar.
A reporter did the 2017 j0urnalistic equivalent of flipping the Thanksgiving dinner table. She live-streamed last Wednesday’s press conference.
Sure, it was only audio, and not video, but current rules prohibit live broadcasts of either audio or video; audio may be recorded, but only shared after the fact. This has, quite naturally, annoyed many members of the press, with CNN’s Jim Acosta frequently expressing his outrage, and even Fox News’s John Roberts getting twitchy — last week, he ducked out early, prompting deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to remark, “John Roberts is bored today, he’s headed out.” Roberts responded, “If it were on camera, I might not be.” In fact, before Sean Spicer’s resignation, the last on-camera briefing had been on June 29 — almost a full month ago. That’s positively ludicrous.
So it was pretty badass of reporter Ksenija Pavlovic to fire up her Periscope app and live-stream the majority of the hour-long press briefing (the feed did cut out about a third of the way through, but was restored shortly thereafter), particularly when you consider that Pavlovic doesn’t have the might of mainstream media rallying behind her. The first reporter to break this White House-imposed blackout isn’t affiliated with any major news networks, and her two live streams of the briefing garnered only seventy-eight live listeners.
Pavlovic runs her own news web site, Pavlovic Today, where she is chief correspondent for the White House (no word on whether she’s the only correspondent), and was formerly a teaching fellow at Yale, where she studied political science. And whether this act of rebellion will prod others to take similar risks is difficult to say. But without a doubt this act of smartphone rebellion has pointed out just how farcical are this White House’s rules on “grandstanding” ” reporters, and even one tiny app standing against the onslaught of bullshit can make a difference. Personally, I think she should talk to her boss about a raise.
Susan Rella is the managing editor at Melville House, and a former bookseller.