President Donald Trump's new communications director says he's "personally" in favor of on-camera White House briefings, but ultimately the decision will be up to the president.
On CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday, Wall Street financier-turned-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told host Jake Tapper:
If you're asking me for my personal opinion—and maybe the president will be upset for giving my personal—we should put the cameras on. That's no problem. I don't think we need to have the cameras off.
But if the president doesn't want the cameras on, guess what? We're not going to have the cameras on. It's going to really be up to him. But I think we should put the cameras on.
Watch Scaramucci on CNN:
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) July 23, 2017
His apparently relaxed attitude toward cameras marks a startling departure from the Trump administration's hostile and increasingly restrictive interactions with the media. In the past six months, the administration has frequently banned television and audio broadcasting of briefings. Scaramucci, who officially joined Trump's communication team Friday, also reminded Tapper that Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the newly-appointed press secretary. Scaramucci said he'd given her "the big office" and encouraged her to invite members of the press to her office.
Huckabee Sanders has defended the White House's shift toward more off-camera briefings. During her recent off-camera briefing to address the Don Jr. email scandal, she said: "We're always looking at different approaches and different ways to communicate the president's message and talk about the agenda. This is one of the many ways we choose to do that."
Last month, then-press secretary Sean Spicer said the shift was, in part, because members of the press pool "want to become YouTube stars and ask some snarky question that's been asked eight times," and that the reporters "are more focused about getting their clip on air than they are of actually taking the time to understand an issue."
In May, the president threatened to cancel all press briefings, "and hand out written responses for the sake of accuracy." Just a few months earlier, the administration's engagement with reporters was decried as "undemocratic and unacceptable," "chilling" and "totalitarian" when, in February, the White House unexpectedly barred four news outlets from an off-camera briefing with Spicer.