Hillary Clinton’s campaign press secretary is drawing pushback from the candidate’s traveling press corps after he claimed on Sunday that Clinton “oftentimes” makes herself available for lengthy question and answer sessions with reporters.
“What’s the reason why she is reluctant to give press conferences?” CNN’s Brian Stelter asked Clinton’s top spokesman, Brian Fallon.
“There’s no reluctance,” Fallon replied.
“Oftentimes, we will do an event…at the end of the day, we will do an avail, what would be known as an avail to the people in your business, where she informally comes out after an event has concluded, after she’s taken some photos and some selfies, and she will literally stand there for 15, 20 minutes and answer questions from her traveling press corps, including the embeds from the various networks,” he added.
But those embeds that Fallon refers to in the interview hold a different view, judging by their remarks on Twitter.
“This explanation for Clinton’s lack of press access to her traveling press corps is flatly not true,” CNN’s Dan Merica tweeted after the interview aired.
“Bottom line is she’s answering questions from the reporters that are covering her day to day.”
Responding to Fallon’s claim that Clinton will stand for 15 to 20 minutes to answer questions from reporters, Merica wrote “Nope. Last gaggle was 2 min.”
NBC News’ Monica Alba pointed out that Clinton’s last press gaggle was held in Virginia a month ago.
“Her last formal press conference? December 2015,” Alba wrote.
ABC News’ Liz Kreutz, who late last month conducted the first interview with Clinton after a scathing State Department inspector general’s report about her email practices, also disputed Fallon’s claim that the candidate answers questions for 15 to 20 minutes during press availabilities.
“Clinton rarely does avails, let alone of this length,” she wrote.
“HRC does occasionally stop for avails,” Buzzfeed’s Ruby Cramer wrote. “But not ‘day to day.’ And not for 15-20 mins.”
“Clinton held an ‘avail’ with reporters in Stone Ridge, VA on 5/9. That avail lasted 2 and a half minutes, total,” CBS News’ Hannah Champong wrote.
Clinton was pressed on her closed-off posture during an interview earlier this week with CNN’s Jake Tapper. The anchor pointed out that Clinton is less accessible to campaign reporters than is her presumptive GOP challenger, Donald Trump. The real estate billionaire held a lengthy press conference on Tuesday — the fourth he has held during the campaign.
But Clinton is much more guarded, likely because she expects to face tough and unscripted questions about her exclusive use of a private email server, her flip-flopping on various campaign issues, and her refusal to release transcripts from her paid Wall Street speeches.
The few occasions in which Clinton has opened herself up to questions from groups of reporters have turned out poorly for the former secretary of state. Last March, before she officially announced her run for president, Clinton held a press conference at the United Nations to address reports about her private email system. Clinton appeared nervous and provided answers that have proved demonstrably false as more information has come to light about her email arrangement. And last August, Clinton uttered one of the more damning gaffes of her campaign during a question and answer session with a group of pool reporters.
Fox News’ Ed Henry asked Clinton if she had ever “wiped” her email server clean.
“Like with a cloth or something?” she responded.