The White House today barred a CNN reporter from attending a presidential event, arguing that it expects "everyone to be respectful of the presidency," in a controversial move that invited strong protests from journalists.
The White House today barred a CNN reporter from attending a presidential event, arguing that it expects “everyone to be respectful of the presidency,” in a controversial move that invited strong protests from journalists. The White House Correspondents Association condemned the “misguided and inappropriate decision” to bar Kaitlan Collins from attending a Rose Garden event, which was open to the press, after she shouted a question at US President Donald Trump during an Oval Office media availability.
Collins had asked the question as a pool reporter during Trump’s Oval Office photo-op with visiting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. Defending its decision, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders asserted that the Trump administration is supportive of a free press but wants “everyone to be respective of the presidency”. “At the conclusion of a press event in the Oval Office a reporter shouted questions and refused to leave despite repeatedly being asked to do so.
Subsequently, our staff informed her she was not welcome to participate in the next event, but made clear that any other journalist from her network could attend,” Sanders said after outrage from reporters. “She said it didn’t matter to her because she hadn’t planned to be there anyway,” Sanders said. CNN’s Jim Acosta in a tweet described it as “a new low for the White House” and said his colleague Collins deserves better. The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) has lodged its protest.
While the Trump administration has experienced continuous friction between reporters and the White House, this is possibly for the first time that a reporter has been barred from attending a White House event. “We strongly condemn the White House’s misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after she asked questions they did not like. This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak,” WHCA president Olivier Knox said.
“It cannot stand. Reporters asking questions of powerful government officials, up to and including the president, helps hold those people accountable. In our republic, the WHCA supports the prerogative of all reporters to do their jobs without fear of reprisal from the government,” Knox said. CNN’s rival network Fox News expressed its solidarity with the reporter and opposed the White House decision in this regard.
“We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press,” Fox News president Jay Wallace said. In an interview, Collins said that soon after the Oval Office event she was asked to come to the room of Bill Shine, the new White House Deputy Chief of Staff of Communications. Sanders was also present in the meeting.
“They said you are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today. They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting,” Collins said. “‘You’re banning me from an event because you didn’t like the questions I asked’,” Collins said. Shine and Sanders told her that “we’re not banning your network. Your photographers can still come. Your producers can still come. But you are not invited to the Rose Garden today.”