New Bill Aims To Prevent White House From Dodging The Free Press

A Connecticut representative has introduced a new bill Thursday that would require the White House to hold at least two televised press briefings per week, in response to the Trump administrationss recent restrictions on press access.

The Free Press Act, sponsored by Rep. Jim Himes (D-Conn.), comes in the wake of a series of White House actions that limit the medias access to the executive.The White House has repeatedly prohibited news outlets from televising White House press briefings, and has increasingly communicated with reporters in restricted settings shielded from public view.

The administration has held sporadic on-camera press briefings. Himes office analyzed data compiled by the American Presidency Projectand found that President Donald Trumps White House staff has had 71 briefings in his tenure so far, compared to 114 under former President Barack Obama, 74 under former President George W. Bush, and 152 under former President Bill Clinton at the same point in each of their presidencies.

Himes said he introduced the bill because the White House has begun to dramatically, and in an historically unprecedented way, reduce the media and therefore the American peoples access to the thinking of the president. And thats not healthy. So now is the time.

In February, administration officials came under fire for barring several outlets from attending a closed-door briefing.

That month, Himes expressed his commitment to the freedom of the press under the new administration. Theres some things you dont compromise on, he told constituents at a town hall, according to the Hartford Courant. You dont compromise on certain principles, you dont compromise on freedom of the press, you dont compromise on treating people of different religions the same.

Trump has long criticized the press, lambasting reporters for fake news, andrallyinghis voter base against journalists during the campaign trail.In one notable incident in June, reporter Brian J. Karem confrontedDeputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders after she launched a tirade against the media. On July 2, Trump tweeted a video of himself beating up a person whose head had been replaced with the CNN logo.

Himes noted that he did not expect the bill to garner much support from the Republican majority, but that he would keep pushing it.

While a Republican might say, gosh this feels like its anti-Trump, its actually pro-transparency, its pro-democracy, and it would apply equally to future Democratic presidents as it does to this Republican president, he said.

When youre talking about something as important as White House policy, I think its really important that American citizens can at least feel like they were in the room.

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