White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham responded to pieces from the "New York Times" and "Washington Post" questioning "what it is that you do" since the daily press briefings have been abolished during an interview with FNC's "MediaBuzz" host Howard Kurtz.
KURTZ: And we’re back now with Stephanie Grisham, the White House Press Secretary. The New York Times and Washington Post recently ran pieces questioning what it is that you do since the daily press briefings have been abolished, saying you appear mainly on Fox and you’re largely unknown to the public. Your response to that criticism?
GRISHAM: Half true. I do get invited to do other cable networks and I do those. I also get turned down a good amount so I think people need to understand that. Yes, The Washington Post and The New York Times both have turned to kind of a weird obsession into this. Something I think that people forget, again, is that I have three roles at the White House but also if you look at some of my past predecessors -- I won’t name names, but there was somebody in a different administration who got made fun of for constantly saying, I refer you to here, I refer you to here, I’ll get back to you. No information’s being done there.
Sarah, you know, she would go out there and answer everything as honestly as she could and she was branded a liar and became an SNL character. So I think because none of that’s going on with me I may be doing it right.
Also, I just had a stat this morning given to me that the president has tweeted or retweeted more than 300 times in the past five days. So that is people -- not just the media but the American public hearing directly from him every single day, several times a day. There is no way that the president isn’t saying -- there’s no way I could say anything better than what he’s saying on his own. And then again, he’s always doing press conference, he’s always doing --
KURTZ: Well that leads me into my next question, and it’s true that you’ve been spared the SNL parody --
GRISHAM: Yes, so far.
KURTZ: -- camera that much.
GRISHAM: So far.
KURTZ: So I fully get the argument that this president provides an extraordinary access --
KURTZ: -- constantly talking -- virtually every day and the reporters would rather talk to the president of the United States than the press secretary. But the counterargument is that he can side-step questions more easily against the roar of the helicopter and there’s no chance for journalists to follow-up on details or contradictions with the top spokesperson at the White House.
GRISHAM: Well he did a press conference three days ago and was able to answer all those follow-up questions. He does pool sprays in the Oval and the Cabinet Room all the time and those have follow-up questions. We put subject matter experts at that podium all the time that can answer follow-up questions. I would probably be -- I would refer you to Treasury rather than having sent -- or Cabinet Secretary Mnuchin out there. So I think that people are just hyper focused on potentially three times a week, 20 minutes a day press briefing when I think the way we’re doing it is actually better and I think the American people and the media are being served a lot better.
KURTZ: And finally, you apparently get a lot of hate mail.
KURTZ: --reported -- just to give some examples, "brain-dead lying twit pretending to be a press secretary ala Fox News," "treacherous b-word," "despicable piece of S," and a whole lot of stuff that I can’t read on the air. Do you see a connection between this vile stuff and the way that you’re covered?
GRISHAM: Lately because the pressure has somehow gotten a lot more -- the pile-on has gotten a lot more; the hate mail and the threats are definitely increasing so it’s dangerous. And I --
KURTZ: Does it bother you?
GRISHAM: Yes. Of course, it bothers me. It bothers me for my family. It bothers me for me. I know that the media, they get threats as well. I’m not saying that this isn’t, you know --
GRISHAM: -- this is just me. But I definitely see a correlation with the pile-on and with the threats increasing.