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Journalists need to listen to Sean Spicer’s press briefings, even if he’s lying

Huffington Post Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen says it’s important to get President Trump’s surrogates “on the record.”

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer Holds Press Briefing Mark Wilson / Getty

When the Trump administration wants to thumb its nose at journalists it doesn’t like, it has often done so through White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer.

Late last month, it barred the New York Times, CNN and the Huffington Post from one of Spicer’s daily press briefings.

Huffington Post Editor in Chief Lydia Polgreen, who is trying to expand the site’s liberal reader base to include some of Trump’s voters, too, said she watched that unfold “with very grave concern.”

On the latest episode of Recode Media with Peter Kafka, Polgreen said reporters should be allowed to do their jobs — and that includes being in the room, “even if it’s just theater.”

“It’s important to have a full document of the madness of these times,” she said.

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The Huffington Post famously branded Donald Trump a sideshow presidential candidate during the 2016 campaign, initially covering him in the entertainment section. Polgreen, who was poached away from the New York Times after the election, said that’s “not what I would have done.”

“Our job is to report, and report passionately,” she said. “We should write our stories and let readers make their own conclusions about whether Trump is a joke, whether he’s a misogynist.”

However, Polgreen left open the door for the HuffPost to willingly opt out of the briefings in the future, or to change up who attends. She sees the briefing room as a small piece of the larger story and said of journalists who write about the briefings, “if that’s all you do, you’re not doing your job.”

“This is one of those places where HuffPost can make judicious choices and say, ‘You know what, we’re just not going to go to the briefing any more,” Polgreen said. “Jay Rosen had this great line: ‘Send the interns!’ If you’re basically taking down what this person says and nothing they say is useful or important, then yeah, send the interns.”

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