The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

A reporter broke White House rules by streaming live audio of an off-camera briefing

White House press secretary Sean Spicer prohibited cameras from his press briefing on June 26, and faced a barrage of questions about why. (Video: Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post, Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post)

It was only a matter of time.

At every White House news briefing since June 29 — and many before, too — President Trump's spokesmen have ordered a room full of smartphone-toting journalists not to film the session or even broadcast live audio. On Wednesday, one reporter defied the White House by streaming live sound of the briefing online.

Ksenija Pavlovic, a former political science teaching fellow at Yale who founded a news site called Pavlovic Today, used the Periscope app to stream audio of Wednesday's briefing. She tweeted a link to the feed:

The sound quality was poor, but deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders could be heard introducing Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, who addressed reporters before Sanders took questions. Pavlovic's feed cut out after about 17 minutes, while Short was still talking, but she quickly resumed streaming and tweeted a new link that carried another 31 minutes.

Pavlovic declined to answer emailed questions from The Fix. The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Pavlovic is not among the best-known members of the White House press corps, and her audio streams went largely unnoticed in the moment. The first drew 37 listeners; the second attracted 41.

Yet her act of rebellion marks a significant development in White House-media relations. Reporters have chafed at recent restrictions on coverage of news briefings, urging the president's communications team to allow live broadcasts. Nevertheless, they have complied with the White House's rules, despite carrying devices that can stream video or audio with a few taps of the thumb.

The audio of at least one early off-camera briefing aired live on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, but that appeared to be a result of ambiguous guidance from the White House, which insists that recordings air only on delay. Since then, the networks have respected the White House's wishes.

On Fox News, while Pavlovic was streaming, anchor Shepard Smith was reminding viewers of the access restrictions.

“There is news from the briefing,” Smith said. “We get to listen to the briefing; they just won't let you listen to the briefing. It's the White House rules, not ours.”

The question now is whether Pavlovic's Periscoping will prove to be a one-off or the inspiration for more journalists to disregard the White House ban.