Authors Don Winslow and Stephen King pledged to donate a total of $200,000 to St. Jude’s charity if White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham holds a one-hour press briefing in the White House briefing room.
The last formal press briefing was on March 11, almost a year ago, all but ending what was once a daily tradition in which the press secretary appeared in the West Wing briefing room to answer reporters’ questions. That March 11 briefing was held by Grisham’s predecessor, Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
On Thursday, Winslow wrote on Twitter that he was increasing his offer to $100,000, and would donate that amount in Grisham’s name. King followed up and agreed to match it, bringing the total to $200,000. Both have been Trump critics.
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Grisham did not immediately return a request for comment. She told CNN’s Jake Tapper, “If you have $200,000 to play with, why not just help children because it’s a good thing to do? Donations to charity should never come with strings attached.”
Winslow responded on Twitter, “First, we both regularly donate to charity. Second, why do all Trump officials refuse to answer the most basic questions they are asked? Stop evading, Stephanie. Let’s try again: Why have you not held any White House press briefings for over 300 days? What are you afraid of?”
In a statement to Deadline, Winslow said that the sum was more than Grisham’s salary “for just one hour of her time.”
“One hour of her time to help a lot of sick kids in need, he said in the statement.
He added, “What the Trump administration is doing is inexcusable and a perversion of the transparency he promised when running for office. Every White House – Republican and Democratic – has held regular White House briefings, most every day. They don’t want to hold a briefing because they are scared to answer questions about Trump’s conduct and the conduct of his administration. … If Stephanie Grisham is too scared to answer questions from the press in the White House briefing room then she should quit her job because her job is to answer those questions in the White House briefing room.”
The White House has previously defended the decision to scale back on press briefings, arguing that Trump himself answers questions from the press on an almost daily basis. When Sean Spicer and later Sanders served as press secretary, Trump’s team often complained that reporters would use the briefings to showboat, particularly when they were aired live during the early days of the administration. Spicer’s briefings even became the subject of skits on Saturday Night Live.
But correspondents say that the briefings serve a purpose beyond getting the administration on record about the most pressing news of the hour, giving reporters from local and international outlets the chance to ask about other issues.
Jonathan Karl, ABC News’ chief White House correspondent and president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, said via email, “This sounds like a win-win. A press secretary should do press briefings, and St. Jude’s is a worthy cause. I hope she takes them up on it and then continues to do briefings as every press secretary should.”
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