In the early days of President Donald Trump’s administration, Sean Spicer became something of a breakout media star. His gaffes (including some much-criticized remarks about Hitler and the Holocaust) made the White House press briefings into appointment viewing, and provided Melissa McCarthy with enough fuel for an unforgettable Saturday Night Live impression. Those days seem to be mostly over now, though. Monday’s White House press briefing was held off-camera, continuing a recent trend that doesn’t show signs of stopping.
In lieu of video, many White House reporters posted photos of Spicer to their Twitter feeds while complaining about the off-camera briefing. CNN’s Jim Acosta continued his trend of posting pictures of his own socks in the absence of video, and also tried to confront the new policy by asking Spicer why the cameras were off.
“Maybe we should turn the cameras on, Sean, why don’t we turn the cameras on? Why not turn the cameras on? They’re in the room, the lights are on!” Acosta demanded. He received no answer from the press secretary.
In fact, the only apparent explanation for the off-camera shift comes from White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who told The Atlantic‘s Rosie Gray in a text message, “Sean got fatter.” In the face of the Trump administration’s intransigence, some Twitter users have asked Acosta and other White House reporters to simply turn their cameras on, or record or stream the briefings on their phones or an app like Periscope. No reporter has done so yet, though CNN has begun combining audio recordings of Spicer’s answers with still photos to approximate the experience.