Donald Trump eschewed his usual dog-and-pony show when he signed a law stripping away Americans' internet privacy, and now White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer is skipping his usual televised press briefing and opting for a rare off-camera gaggle instead.
At the relatively late hour of 7:30 pm Monday, the White House announced several bills that Donald Trump signed into law, away from the prying eyes of the press. Among them was a resolution repealing an Obama-era rule against the selling of Americans' private information by internet service providers without their consent (via email from The White House):
On Monday, April 3, 2017, the President signed into law:
H.J.Res. 69, which nullifies the Department of the Interior's Fish and Wildlife Service's final rule relating to non-subsistence takings of wildlife on National Wildlife Refuges in Alaska;
H.J.Res. 83, which nullifies the Department of Labor's rule titled Clarification of Employer's Continuing Obligation to Make and Maintain an Accurate Record of Each Recordable Injury and Illness; and
H.R. 1228, which provides for the appointment of members of the Board of Directors of the Office of Compliance to replace members whose terms expire during March and May of 2017; and
S.J.Res. 34 – which nullifies the Federal Communications Commission’s rule on privacy of customers of broadband and other telecommunications services.
Democrats opposed the law unanimously.
That anodyne announcement was quickly followed by the release of the following day's press schedule, which included this highly unusual notation (via email from The White House):
11:30AM Press Gaggle with Press Secretary Sean Spicer
White House Briefing Room
Off-camera gaggles are standard procedure when a president is traveling, and the press secretary briefs on Air Force One, but they are otherwise exceedingly rare. For example, the Obama White House never held an off-camera gaggle in the briefing room during his eight years in office. Now, however, it is the current administration's go-to move whenever Sean Spicer gets panicked about answering tough questions.
This time, it appears the White House would like to avoid defending this internet privacy betrayal on-camera, as well as the heinous gutting of injury reporting requirements. Unfortunately for them, one day will not cool the anger that this bill is generating, and sooner or later, they will have to face the music.