Sarah Sanders: Trump's photo ops prove his commitment 'to a free press'


The press secretary's defense of Trump's threat to ban reporters from the White House is downright embarrassing.

Trump threatened to bar reporters from the White House if they don't give him more flattering coverage, but Sarah Huckabee Sanders says his photo ops prove he's a champion of the free press.

At Wednesday afternoon's White House press briefing, ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega asked Sanders about Trump's threat to revoke credentials.

"Is that a line that, as press secretary, you would be willing to cross?" Vega asked.

"I'm standing up in front of you right now, taking your questions," Sanders said.

"We're very committed to a free press," she continued, "and I think that we demonstrate that every day, not only by me being up here and taking your questions, as I'm doing right now, the president did it just a couple of hours ago, and has made multiple sets of remarks, and will be in front of the press later tonight as well."

Trump did field a few questions at a Cabinet photo op earlier Wednesday. But when he was asked whether he will ban press from the White House, as he had threatened earlier in the day, he refused to answer, instead signaling for the press to leave with a "Thank you!"

Trump's other events Wednesday included a photo op with military mothers and spouses at which he took no questions, and a dinner with members of Congress that is closed to the press.

Reporters will also be present at 2 a.m., when the hostages released from North Korea will arrive. It is unknown whether he will take take any questions at that time.

But Trump has not given a solo press conference in 447 days, and while he does occasionally take a few questions during photo ops, he just as often ignores questions he does not like. At one such photo op, Trump even ejected a reporter, CNN's Jim Acosta, for having the gall to ask a question at all.

Meanwhile, Trump and his communications team have carried out an unprecedented campaign of hostility against the press that has earned international condemnation.

In January, Trump was named a top media oppressor by the Committee to Protect Journalists, and Reporters Without Borders cited Trump for the United States' drop in their ranking of press freedom.

Sanders' cynical boasts are an embarrassment, but much more disturbing is the fact that neither she nor Trump ruled out making good on his threat. Given Trump's avoidance of the press, we're already halfway there.