Donald Trump, who previously knocked Hillary Clinton for avoiding the press, has not held a press conference for more than two months.
And he hasn’t shown any signs of rethinking his Fox-centric strategy.
Trump has been interviewed by friendly Fox News hosts more than a dozen times this month, but has declined most other interview requests from national news organizations.
He uses alternatives like Twitter and jam-packed rallies to get his messages across.
At 3:20 a.m. Friday, Trump sent a tweet blasting news outlets for relying on anonymous sources to reveal internal campaign tension.
“Anytime you see a story about me or my campaign saying ‘sources said,’ DO NOT believe it. There are no sources, they are just made up lies!” he wrote.
The New York Times, CNN and other outlets that utilize anonymous sources do not “make up” sources.
All major news organizations have guidelines in place about when anonymity is granted, and managers typically know the identities of reporters’ sources.
Trump’s tweet seemed to be a response to recent stories about his handling of Monday’s presidential debate. The candidate was said to be angry that some aides and allies anonymously conceded that Trump struggled in his first bout with Hillary Clinton.
Trump could address these issues on the record in a press conference setting or in a series of interviews.
During the primary season, Trump made himself available to reporters and television interviewers on a daily basis.
But access has been severely ratcheted back in recent months.
“Trump seems to have become press-shy,” Paul Farhi wrote in Friday’s Washington Post.
Trump frequently speaks with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly and the cast of “Fox Friends,” but those are the exceptions to the rule.
By cloistering himself on Fox News, he mostly avoids difficult questions about the daily controversies that plague his campaign.
Trump ventured off Fox on Thursday and spoke with a New Hampshire television channel. He was asked about his debate performance, his interest in bringing up Bill Clinton’s infidelity, “birtherism” and a Newsweek report that his company violated the law by spending money in Cuba in 1998.
That’s a preview of what a press conference might look like — if Trump held one.
Over the summer the Trump campaign criticized Clinton for going eight months without a full-fledged press conference.
Clinton is now taking questions from campaign trail reporters on a regular basis. The sessions may not meet the definition of a press conference, but reporters on the Clinton beat say access has improved.
Clinton campaign aides are starting to bring up Trump’s press conference drought.
So are political journalists. Sam Stein of The Huffington Post asked on Twitter on Thursday, “does Trump last another 40 days without doing a press conference?”
so does Trump last another 40 days without doing a press conference?
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) September 29, 2016
The Trump campaign had no immediate comment on Friday. Earlier this month, campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told CNN’s Erin Burnett that “we don’t get fair questions” from the press corps.
Trump’s last press conference was on July 27. Since then, his only QA’s with groups of reporters have been one short session in early September; a couple of questions during his visit to Mexico; and a few laps in the spin room after Monday’s debate.
Fox News anchor Brit Hume pointed this out on Thursday’s “On the Record.”
“He’s stopped, essentially stopped, holding news conferences,” Hume said.
Byron York, a Fox News contributor and Washington Examiner correspondent, said Trump is “way less accessible than he used to be, and the reason is, he used to get himself in trouble by ad-libbing in speeches and by doing media interviews. He’s really clamped down on his own speeches … and he’s doing fewer interviews.”
Although the campaign has ended its “blacklist” of news outlets, Trump also continues to rail against the media — and against individual journalists — on a regular basis. His tirades against media dishonesty are a recurring feature at rallies.
Trump also chooses to fly to and from events without his traveling press corps, breaking with longstanding precedent for presidential candidates.
The Trump campaign has repeatedly told reporters that Trump does not fly with his press corps because his private Boeing 757 cannot accommodate them due to the way it is configured.
On Friday, that rationale was called into question.
Trump’s plane is in maintenance for the next week, but rather than joining his traveling press corps on their Boeing 737 “chase plane,” he is borrowing his running mate Mike Pence’s campaign plane, which is also a 737.
Trump will be using Pence’s plane next week as well as he heads out West, while Pence is in debate prep.
Pence — like Clinton and her running mate Tim Kaine — typically flies with his traveling press corps, raising the likelihood that journalists can ask questions during trips.
Clinton took questions on board her plane on Tuesday and Thursday, for example.
— Jeremy Diamond contributed reporting.