A "news briefing" in China on Thursday during Trump's first visit as president sparked controversy after he didn't take any questions from the Chinese media.
"It was at the Chinese insistence there were no questions today," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later relayed.
The move seemed to be yet another step backwards for the media, as Trump's predecessors all took questions during visits to the traditionally closed-off country, where censorship is typically at high levels.
Censors were already busy scrubbing posts on social media about Trump's trip to China so as to avoid scrutiny.
Meanwhile, members of the U.S. press took issue with Sanders' explanation, saying that it sets a dangerous precedent going forward that the U.S. is willing to kowtow to Chinese demands regarding media access.
Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd took to Twitter to criticize the move, saying: "China isn’t supposed to have a say about press access. Previous press secs used to fight with Chinese counterparts for press access when in China. Witnessed personally."
China isn’t supposed to have a say about press access. Previous press secs used to fight with Chinese counterparts… https://t.co/rxyKWebjHA— Chuck Todd (@Chuck Todd) 1510229073.0
Former Obama Press Secretary Jay Carney also chimed in after Todd's post, saying: "I once had to tell Chinese officials that Pres. Obama would not show up for the press avail unless there would be a Q&A. They backed down."
I once had to tell Chinese officials that Pres. Obama would not show up for the press avail unless there would be a… https://t.co/qjnwhcVDJl— Jay Carney (@Jay Carney) 1510231113.0
Of course, Trump could be avoiding the questions since his administration has come under the microscope during the Russia probe, with multiple recent indictments, as well as multiple mass shootings that have rocked the nation.
And although his visit with Chinese President Xi Jinping was about trade and manufacturing deals being secured in the Communist nation, who knows that the Chinese reporters might have asked had they been given the opportunity.
But many on Twitter felt like Trump's move reflected poorly on both him and the United States:
@theradicalsage @JayCarney @Nysteveo2AOLcom There's bowing to your host...& then there's bending over for your host.— Kevin C. McGee (@Kevin C. McGee) 1510233034.0
@chucktodd So let me get this straight...US kow tows to Chinese on press freedom, eh? @realDonaldTrump may not have… https://t.co/mJ8uZLrfXx— Frank Jannuzi (@Frank Jannuzi) 1510241789.0
@JS_NC_PA @decarlo_frank @theradicalsage @JayCarney @Nysteveo2AOLcom And then claims he was asleep the whole time &… https://t.co/Y4RtRo07PX— Kevin C. McGee (@Kevin C. McGee) 1510237236.0
We know why the Chinese love Trump:
@RepStevenSmith @JayCarney Thanks for posting. This shows exactly how the Chinese feel. Thay love trump cause they… https://t.co/XVFUywssmA— Barbara Stiles (@Barbara Stiles) 1510244191.0
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