In the good old days, political junkies (and people looking for a sneak peek at the next episode of “Saturday Night Live”) could catch White House media briefings on any cable news station almost every weekday afternoon. Alas, off-camera question-and-answer sessions are the new normal.
The Fix is here to help with a five-step guide to following these briefings like a pro.
Step 1: Check the status of the briefing
The White House still holds on-camera briefings every now and then. The last was June 29.
Reporters such as Politico's Josh Dawsey often tweet the status of the day's briefing when they learn it from the White House. His Twitter stream is a good place to find out whether today is America's lucky, on-camera day.
SPICER is back at the podium today, per White House. But no cameras are allowed. 2 pm.
— Josh Dawsey (@jdawsey1) July 17, 2017
Step 2: Follow the briefing live on Twitter
If the briefing is indeed off-camera, the best way to get a sense of what's happening, in real time, is to read the tweets of journalists in the room. Below are some highlights of what reporters were tweeting on Monday while White House press secretary Sean Spicer was fielding their questions.
Note: If you are wondering whom to follow, the reporters in the stream below would be a good place to start.
2:32 Spicer comes out, "Sorry I'm a little late"
— Jared Rizzi (@JaredRizzi) July 17, 2017
Reporter: "We missed you Sean." Spicer: "I missed you too." pic.twitter.com/U9W3wb7w3i
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) July 17, 2017
Spicer is talking about the American made vehicles at the White House.
— Adrian Carrasquillo (@Carrasquillo) July 17, 2017
Spicer: In half an hour the president will go to south lawn to see things including forklift from Mississippi and firetruck from Wisconsin.
— David Smith (@SmithInAmerica) July 17, 2017
Spicer was 0:30 late, which leaves him 0:15 to brief before pool has to gather for 3pm event -- and he'll use 1/2 of that on announcements.
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) July 17, 2017
Sean Spicer cites NYT editorial praising a Trump nominee.
But if NYT is failing and fake ...
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) July 17, 2017
Spicer says Tillerson will make announcement on Iran deal certification today.
— Jordan Fabian (@Jordanfabian) July 17, 2017
Spicer declines to knock down possibility Trump will return Russian properties seized by Obama over election meddling. refers to State Dept
— John Harwood (@JohnJHarwood) July 17, 2017
Spicer says it's "a little out of bounds" for him to discuss Trump products and why they're not made in America
— Jennifer Epstein (@jeneps) July 17, 2017
.@PressSec says “there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe” that Don Jr. meeting wasn’t about adoption policy.
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) July 17, 2017
Except for the part where DON JR. HIMSELF RELEASED EMAILS ADMITTING HE TOOK THE MEETING BECAUSE HE WAS PROMISED DIRT ON HILLARY CLINTON. https://t.co/H0QYViJS1p
— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) July 17, 2017
Sean Spicer says the White House is "very confident" on where GOP is now on Senate health care bill...
— Rebecca Shabad (@RebeccaShabad) July 17, 2017
Spicer says senators are heading to the WH tonight to talk health care with Trump. Won't say who.
— Abby D. Phillip (@abbydphillip) July 17, 2017
"I'm sure somewhere around the world newspapers still get delivered everyday." Sean Spicer, in his off-cam WH briefing return
— Rebekah Metzler (@rebekahmetzler) July 17, 2017
Step 3: Listen to an audio recording of the briefing
Live audio broadcasting of an off-camera briefing is prohibited by the White House, but television networks can air a recording when the session is over.
Audio without video — especially on tape delay — is not great for TV, and the cable news channels have been inconsistent about airing recordings. On Monday, for example, CNN and Fox News aired the briefing in its entirety, but MSNBC did not.
C-SPAN reliably posts the recordings online.
Step 4: Check out ABC's new online show, “The Briefing Room”
ABC on Monday piloted a new post-briefing analysis show that it plans to make a regular thing. You can certainly watch post-briefing breakdowns on cable news, too, but ABC's is commercial-free and seemingly less formal (Loose tie! No tie! Rolled sleeves!) than a typical studio production.
It looks promising, partly because the format gives the network's reporter in the briefing room (often Jonathan Karl, as it was on Monday) more time to share observations than he would have during a standard TV hit.
Step 5: Read the The Fix's annotated transcript
The Fix has been posting transcripts of off-camera briefings and annotating them to provide additional context, commentary, links, videos, tweets and anything else that might make them more informative. Look for the annotated transcript of a briefing on the morning after, right here.