Washington :The White House has 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 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.