Screenshot/The White House
Newly-minted White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders vowed to “mix things up” during her first on-camera briefing with the new title.
The former deputy press secretary suggested that her first briefing, which featured her answering the questions in a nine-year-old's letter to the president, was a preview of what's to come.
"I love taking letters from different people," Sanders told Independent Journal Review. "I mean obviously we kicked it off because [with Dylan's letter because] that’s more fun, everybody likes it. But at the same time, I want to find policy questions that people have that they’re sending in, that we can address from there and answer some of real America’s questions.”
More questions from “real America” won't be the only thing Sanders brings back.
“I think bringing in policy experts and people that can get more in-depth on the issues, certainly on big initiatives that the White House is working on or legislation is helpful. It’s not something new but it’s certainly something that we’ll keep doing. I love looking for unique ways to answer questions. I like the Skype stuff. I think it allows us to talk to a different market,” she said.
In her first two on-air press briefings, Sanders has brought Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Acting Director Tom Homan, and Principal Deputy Attorney General Rob Hur to the podium.
More “experts” pose a dilemma for programming at the cable news networks which regularly air White House press briefings. The Washington Post's Callum Borchers reports that network executives don't seem to know if they should or should not put the experts' statements on their airtime. And if they've repeatedly asked the White House to bring the cameras back and there's no “news” to be reported by experts delivering a message at the podium, they may face accusations of bias if the networks don't air them.
Incoming White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci also suggested more White House press briefings would be televised.
Prior to Sanders's promotion, the White House had not held an on-camera press briefing in three weeks, a point of contention between the West Wing staff and the White House press corps.
The changes come after a recent staff stir-up within the White House press shop and the White House at-large. Following Scaramucci's appointment as communications director, press secretary Sean Spicer tendered his resignation.
Spicer's reign behind the podium was marked by several differences from the past administration's protocol with the media. Among these changes: fewer on-air press briefings, shorter press briefings, more cabinet members at press briefings, Skype questions from reporters outside of Washington, more policy calls and briefings attributed to “senior officials,” more questions from conservative outlets, and fewer solo press conferences with the president.
In the last few months of his tenure, the White House press office, often changed audio and video recording rules for the off-camera press briefings, and began delaying the release of a briefing schedule. This has made it more difficult for cable news networks to plan their television coverage for the White House briefings.
Scaramucci's directive to broadcast press briefings came the week before his expletive-laced rant was published in The New Yorker. It's unclear whether the policies will stick, but he did tweet his regrets.
“I made a mistake in trusting in a reporter,” he said. “It won't happen again.”