CNN’s Jim Acosta pressed White House spokesman Sean Spicer to allow cameras to be turned on during Monday’s press briefing, as the Trump team increasingly has restricted the type of coverage of what has been a routine ritual for reporters on the beat.
Acosta, frustrated at not being called on during recent briefings, blurted out a question about healthcare instead.
“There’s no camera on, Jim,” Spicer said.
“Maybe we should turn the cameras on Sean. Why don’t we turn the cameras on?” Acosta responded.
He continued, “Why not turn the cameras on? We are in the room. the lights are on.”
Later, as Spicer had called on Trey Yingst, a reporter for One America News Network, Acosta continued to ask Spicer why cameras weren’t being allowed. Yingst asked the press secretary to address the issue.
“Some days we will have them, some days we won’t,” Spicer said, noting that President Trump would be making an appearance later in the day and “I want the president’s voice to carry the day.”
The White House did allow audio of the briefing, but it was on an embargo until it ended.
Acosta last week raised objections to the restriction of cameras and recording equipment from briefings, and accused the White House of “stonewalling” and the “suppression of information.” CNN later in the week dispatched a sketch artist to the briefing room, an effort to bring a higher profile to the issue.
The White House Correspondents Association also has objected to the press restrictions. Jeff Mason, the president of the WHCA, met with Spicer and his deputy, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, last week.
“The WHCA’s position on this issue is clear: we believe strongly that Americans should be able to watch and listen to senior government officials face questions from an independent news media, in keeping with the principles of the First Amendment and the need for transparency at the highest levels of government,” Mason said in a statement. He is the White House correspondent for Reuters.
Acosta also tweeted on Monday, “This is not campaign event. This is the WH. We are sitting in a briefing room full of cameras and taxpayer funded spokesman at podium.”