Defense officials are being criticized by the press for not being transparent enough as tensions with Iran have increased, The Hill reported on Sunday.
A Defense Department press secretary has not held an on-camera briefing in a year – they used to be routine – and off-camera gaggles, which used to be held regularly on a weekly basis have not occurred since late last year.
Journalists months ago urged that press briefings resume, but mre urgent complaints have surfaced with the situation in the Persian Gulf.
Mark Cancian, a Center for Strategic and International Studies senior adviser, explained the Pentagon’s press relations by saying, “You don’t have to explain what you don’t say,” emphasizing that “there’s a reluctance to get out in front on issues because with the White House it’s a little hard to say where they’ll end up, and the president values loyalty very highly.”
Although Cancian noted it is not unusual for the Pentagon to remain mum on operations leading up to sensitive military movements, the current situation is indicative of a broader trend, especially since former Defense Secretary James Mattis was keen to have limited engagement with reporters.
The spokesman for Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan indicated it was the secretary’s interim status that was the problem, declaring that once Shanahan was confirmed by Congress, routine on-camera briefings and off-camera gaggles would resume.
President Donald Trump on Twitter over the weekend slammed “The Fake News Media” saying it “is hurting our Country with its fraudulent and highly inaccurate coverage of Iran. It is scattershot, poorly sourced (made up), and DANGEROUS. At least Iran doesn’t know what to think, which at this point may very well be a good thing!”
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