The White House’s West Wing has been a pretty friendly place to reporters for decades but that could all change under Donald Trump’s administration. It was suggested this week that President-elect Trump is considering a move that would ban the White House press corp.
News of the potential plan stunned reporters on Sunday. The move would remove a protocol that allows journalists to work in the White House close to senior officials.
Reince Priebus, Mr. Trump’s incoming chief of staff, was quick to backpedal on the idea after it was reported by Esquire magazine. He quickly changed the administration’s tune, claim that the press briefing room was being discussed and that the administration was merely considering a larger area to accommodate the hundreds of journalists seeking to cover Mr. Trump.
The backpedal still has reporters worried after Donald Trump called CNN “fake news” because immediately calling on known fake news website, and right-wing supporter, Brietbart News to ask a question which he promptly answered.
More than 100 reporters showed up to a routine meeting of the White House Correspondents’ Association last week and vowed to stand together if any erosion of press freedoms were to be exacted by the Trump administration. “We are all in this together,” said Jeff Mason of Reuters, the group’s president.
Reporters have worked in the West Wing since the 1970s. They have been allowed to walk around without security and have worked out of cubicles located near the West Wing swimming pool.
The press corp moved into the White House under President William McKinley and they have stood as a symbol of the US Presidents willingness to be held accountable for their actions, something President-Elect Trump has not showed a willingness towards.
Sean Spicer, the incoming White House press secretary, quickly issued the following statement: “While no decisions have been made, there is enormous interest in covering Donald Trump. The current briefing room only has 49 seats, so we have looked at rooms within the White House to conduct briefings that have additional capacity.”
There is reason to be worried, after all, it was Mr. Spicer who denounced the news media just last week. He called CNN and BuzzFeed News “sad” and “pathetic.”
The White House press corps and the new administration have described their first meetings as diplomatic, with Mr. Trump’s team pledging to retain reporters’ access to the president’s motorcade while inviting them aboard Air Force One.
Bob Schieffer, a longtime CBS News anchor said he was not surprised to see such tensions building.
“They’re not the first administration that’s come to office thinking they can control every single word that’s said about them,” he said in an interview. “It’s their call, they can do what they want to do, and if the public puts up with it, they’ll continue to do it that way.”
But, he added: “If they think they’re not going to get the same intense coverage, they’ve been smoking something.”
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