Journalist groups cried foul Wednesday after President-elect Donald Trump left his designated press pool to go to dinner with his family a day earlier, saying Mr. Trump and his team have started off on the wrong foot with reporters after his win in last week’s election.
Mr. Trump’s team said no offense was intended and that they plan to get up to speed as they attend to other transition matters, such as filling key positions in the administration.
But his eschewing post-election protective pool coverage is a break from his immediate predecessor, and had media groups calling for Mr. Trump’s team to immediately install a more formal system for the press to keep the public up to speed on his whereabouts.
On Wednesday a group of more than a dozen media organizations, including The National Press Club and the Society of Professional Journalists, called on Mr. Trump to commit to a formal press pool “from now until the final day of your presidency.”
And Jeff Mason, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said it is “unacceptable” for a president-elect to travel without a regular pool now that a week has passed since the election.
A protective pool that travels alongside or in proximity to the president, or a president-elect, is meant to be in position to inform the public about their whereabouts and demeanor, particularly during a national crisis or emergency.
Mr. Trump’s team informed the pool just after 6 p.m. Tuesday that Mr. Trump was expected to stay in for the rest of the night, only to have reporters scrambling for information hours later when a motorcade was spotted whisking him away from Trump Tower to have dinner with his family at a local restaurant.
The president-elect didn’t mean to mislead the press with the move, said Kellyanne Conway, his former campaign manager.
“He was just having dinner with his family,” Ms. Conway said.
But transition spokesman Jason Miller also said there’s no “formal pool structure” right now to abide by.
He admitted they failed in not informing the press of Mr. Trump’s dinner, but said reporters are never satisfied with their access anyway.
Mr. Miller and other members of the transition team have also provided reporters with brief, relatively frequent updates from Trump Tower for the past several days as well.
After first winning election in 2008, President Obama immediately had a protective pool tracking his every move. Mr. Obama also held a press conference the Friday after that election.
Reporters were also left wondering about Mr. Trump’s whereabouts after his meeting last week at the White House with Mr. Obama. His team later told the press pool that he was heading back to New York.
Mr. Trump — who harangued Hillary Clinton throughout the campaign for cowering from the press — last held a formal news conference in July. In his first extensive interview after the election, Mr. Trump appeared with his family on an episode of “60 Minutes” that was taped last Friday.
Ms. Conway said Wednesday that Mr. Trump will hold a news conference “sometime soon,” but that he’s currently busy talking to foreign leaders and potential Cabinet members.
Mr. Trump often went around the traditional press during the campaign through his Twitter account, and would egg on crowds at his rallies by lambasting reporters — sometimes by name — as among the most dishonest people they would ever meet.
But Mr. Trump — or at least staff who man his social media accounts — also pays close attention to what is written and said about him. Most recently, he issued multiple complaints on Twitter Wednesday morning about a story in The New York Times about reported tumult within his transition team.