WASHINGTON — For four days, President Trump’s national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn, had been at the eye of a storm over his contacts with a Russian diplomat, his truthfulness with other officials about the exchange, and the deepening chaos inside the National Security Council.
Yet on Monday afternoon, Mr. Trump faced reporters and did not get a single question about his embattled aide, who ended up resigning before the day’s end. It was the second time in three days he held a news conference and was not asked about a news story that has dominated front pages and cable news coverage.
It is not that members of the White House press corps did not want to ask about Mr. Flynn. Several reporters stood up at the end of Monday’s news conference, with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and shouted questions about Mr. Flynn, which the president ignored.
But the White House steered the formal questions to two conservative-leaning news organizations, which chose to ask Mr. Trump and Mr. Trudeau general queries about trade and immigration, the subjects of his first meeting with the prime minister.
As a result, Mr. Trump did not address Mr. Flynn’s status for days after The New York Times and The Washington Post reported on Thursday that he had discussed American sanctions against Russia with Moscow’s ambassador to Washington, Sergey I. Kislyak, weeks before Mr. Trump took office. Those reports contradicted earlier statements by several Trump officials, including Vice President Mike Pence.
Mr. Trump was also not asked about photographs of him being briefed on Saturday night after North Korea fired a ballistic missile, a highly sensitive deliberation that took place in full view of other patrons in a public dining room at his Florida club, Mar-a-Lago.
The lack of questions about that or Mr. Flynn drew protests from journalists, both inside and outside the East Room. “Reporters covering the White House who fail to ask the president about the most pressing news of the day should be ashamed of themselves,” Glenn Kessler, who writes the Fact Checker column for The Post, said on Twitter.
Presidents, it must be said, routinely pick and choose reporters at news conferences, often with an eye to drawing certain kinds of questions. The Trump administration, however, has taken that strategy to a new level, managing to avoid scrutiny on a major running story.
Mr. Trump’s press secretary, Sean Spicer, has been open about wanting to expand the list of news outlets that traditionally have been regularly called on during White House briefings. He began his first briefing by calling on a…