WASHINGTON — The White House press office surprisingly snubbed Atlanta’s major newspaper Monday by banning two of its reporters from covering President Biden’s celebration of the Atlanta Braves’ World Series championship.
The stunning affront comes about a week after Biden press officers barred four Orthodox Jewish reporters from a presidential event on hate crimes.
The Journal-Constitution’s Washington correspondent and a photographer for the newspaper sought unsuccessfully to attend Monday’s event featuring the Braves in the nearly 3,000-square-foot East Room, Politico’s West Wing Playbook reported. .
But the newspaper was told only one person for the outlet would be allowed to cover the event, The Post confirmed. A newspaper sportswriter was the only Journal-Constitution employee admitted, despite requests for reconsideration due to the importance of the event to the Atlanta community.
The White House Correspondents Association tried for more than a year to convince Biden’s team to restore the historic standard of press access allowing all reporters on the grounds of the White House to attend. to big events – without success.
It’s unclear why the White House wouldn’t seek to host local reporters from a state Biden won less than 12,000 votes in 2020.
Major television outlets are regularly allowed to have multiple people at similar events, with both cameramen and reporters in the room. Journalists admitted to the East Room on Monday said there appeared to be enough space available to accommodate more press.
In fact, at least one reporter who did not respond was able to attend the event, meaning the White House did not verify that reporters were on the pre-approved list.
White House Correspondents’ Association President Tamara Keith, a reporter for NPR, said, “The WHCA continues to advocate that events in the East Room be open to the press,” i.e. open to all reporters on the White House campus.
A White House official told the Post, “A sports correspondent for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution attended and covered today’s event for the newspaper. It’s long-standing protocol to allow one reporter per outlet to cover events in the East Room so the White House can accommodate as many news organizations as possible.
“The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was called back last week and elected to send its sports correspondent to cover the event for the newspaper,” the official said.
Press screening for presidential events began during the COVID-19 pandemic, but dragged on long after the relatively small White House briefing room returned to full capacity in June 2021 – outrageting the press corps of the White House.
In June, 73 reporters representing nearly two-thirds of the briefing room seats signed a letter demanding the large rooms be restored to historic status — and reporters fear Biden’s press office’s practice of retaining authorized press close to the president will continue in future administrations.
“Who’s blocked today may be different from who’s blocked tomorrow – and since access restrictions tend to persist, it’s a fight worth fighting,” wrote the Washington Post media critic, Erik Wemple, in a July column.
Former Correspondents’ Association president Tom DeFrank of the National Journal told the Post in June that he signed the letter because it was important to stop the erosion of historical norms. “Having covered the White House since June 1968 as a Newsweek intern, I have seen a disturbing erosion of access that was once routine,” DeFrank said.
It’s unclear why the White House continued to pre-screen journalists allowed into the East Room and other locations such as an auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House.
Some journalists believe that by pre-screening reporters, which requires the press to submit an electronic RSVP, the White House is able to shape the coverage of Biden and the variety of questions he is asked.
At one point, The Post, which published explosive reports linking the president to his son Hunter’s overseas business dealings, was barred from attending presidential events through the opaque RSVP process for seven months. The rotating daily press pool, of which The Post is a member, also attends presidential events and the pool is not determined by the White House.
The press almost unanimously opposes the preselection, and representatives of the Correspondents’ Association have strongly urged the administration to return to historical norms rather than picking the reporters present.
The press corps’ June letter denounced the lack of clarity of the process and said the process was “antithetical to the concept of a free press”.
“Let’s be frank,” the letter said. “Our job is not to be liked, or to care whether or not you like what we are asking. Journalists’ ability to interview the most powerful man in our government should not be discretionary…Any The notion that space is “limited” is not supported by the fact that every other president before Biden (including Trump) has allowed full access to the same spaces without us filling out a pre-access application form. ‘admission.
New York Post