- The Washington Times - Saturday, July 15, 2017

The White House would be required to hold at least a couple on-camera press briefings each week if a Democratic lawmaker musters support for a House bill being offered.

Rep. Jim Himes of Connecticut introduced the Free Press Act on Thursday, a legislative proposal that aims to increase transparency within the Trump administration by mandating two on-camera press briefings per week.

“The White House has begun to dramatically, and in an historically unprecedented way, reduce the media and therefore the American people’s access to the thinking of the president,” Mr. Himes said in a statement. “And that’s not healthy.”

“This simple bill achieves two important goals,” he added. “First, it ensures that the press briefings will continue on a regular schedule. Second, it guarantees the American people have access to the proceedings first hand.”

The current White House has hosted an average of 2.7 press briefings per week since President Trump took office in January, according to the congressman, on- and off-camera alike. The Trump administration ranks last place in terms of average briefings when compared to the previous three presidents, however, and each of the last nine weeks has witnessed either one or no televised press briefings, he added.

“You see they’re trying to kick cameras out of the room, not making people available,” Mr. Himes told the New Haven Register this week. “I remember the very first press briefing by Sean Spicer — he came out outraged that it wasn’t the largest inaugural crowd ever. This administration has not just been at war with the media, but at war with the facts since Inauguration Day.”

“A free and independent press is essential to the survival of a functioning democracy,” he added. “The media’s role is to ask the tough questions on behalf of the American public and work to hold our leaders accountable. I hope this bill helps push back on the efforts of this, or any, administration to suppress this necessary reporting.”

The White House did not respond to requests for comment concerning the proposal, the Register reported. President Trump said in May he was weighing whether the White House should continue to hold daily briefings, describing them as “very unfair.”

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