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Trump tells spokeswoman 'not to bother' with press briefings

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President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has told his chief spokeswoman Sarah Sanders "not to bother" with formal media briefings in the White House, because journalists don't cover her fairly.

[WASHINGTON] President Donald Trump said Tuesday he has told his chief spokeswoman Sarah Sanders "not to bother" with formal media briefings in the White House, because journalists don't cover her fairly.

"The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the 'podium' much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press," Mr Trump tweeted.

"I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!"

The White House briefing room, a keystone of modern presidential messaging, has been largely abandoned under Mr Trump.

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The last briefing where Ms Sanders took questions from reporters was on December 18. On January 3, Mr Trump himself made a surprise appearance - his first at the briefing room podium - to deliver a statement on border security, but took no questions.

The White House Correspondents Association, which represents journalists covering the president, attacked Mr Trump's statement.

"This retreat from transparency and accountability sets a terrible precedent," said association president Olivier Knox.

Mr Knox called the briefings a way to "highlight that no one in a healthy republic is above being questioned."

Mr Trump complains frequently about what he says is unfair coverage of his presidency. The dispute gets personal, with Mr Trump and his aides occasionally insulting or reprimanding their most disliked journalists in public.

After Mr Trump clashed angrily with CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a press conference in November, the White House briefly withdrew his credentials, before a court ordered them reinstated.

While the regular, formal briefings that were once a presidential staple have petered out, Ms Sanders often meets with reporters in more impromptu settings.

Mr Trump also takes questions frequently, making him unusually accessible.

However, the occasions in the Oval Office or before boarding the Marine One helicopter tend to be hurried and less open to follow-up questions than a real press conference.

AFP