White House press corps request unrestricted access to all Biden events
Yesterday, the New York Post reported that 68 journalists from the White House press corps sent a letter to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre urging the Biden administration to open press events to all journalists.
The following are key extracts from the letter:
"The current method of allowing a limited number of reporters into these events is not only restrictive and antithetical to the concept of a free press but it has been done without any transparent process into how reporters are selected to cover these events.
The continued inability of the White House to be candid and transparent about the selection process for reporters attending his remarks undermines President Biden's credibility when he says he is a defender of the First Amendment.
We appreciate that COVID-19 social distancing guidance played a role at first, but in the year and a half that Joe Biden has been president, and since such guidelines have been eased, we've never gotten an explanation as to why the areas that have traditionally been opened to all press remain restricted.
The incongruity of these restrictions underscores the belief by many reporters that the administration seeks to limit access to the president by anyone outside of the pool, or anyone who might ask a question the administration doesn't want asked.
Any notion that space is 'limited' is not supported by the fact that every president before Biden (including Trump) allowed access to the very same spaces without making us fill out a request form prior to admittance.
Thank you for your attention to these ahistorical problems. We ask you to see to it that the protocols are changed back to the access norms to which we are accustomed."
The letter was drafted by veteran journalist Brian Karem. The second signature was from CBS News Radio's Steven Portnoy, president of the White House Correspondents' Association.
Other notable signers are CNN's Kaitlan Collins, CBS's Ed O'Keefe, veteran White House reporter Sam Donaldson, Newsmax's James Rosen, and April Ryan.
The "selection process" mentioned in the letter became apparent in August 2021, the last time Biden held a solo presser. The exchange was held in the 3,000-square-foot White House East Room, yet Biden aides permitted only specific reporters to attend, citing "spacing constraints."
Individual reporters claim to have received an array of conflicting explanations about the selection criteria that left them baffled. White House press secretary Jean-Pierre claimed ignorance about the selection criteria during a briefing in June, and so did her predecessor, Jen Psaki, in October 2021.
Since they are all struggling, the obvious deserves to be stated — only pliable reporters who are willing to share questions in advance, or perhaps ask questions that are written by the White House staff, are allowed in.
Calling it a "selection process" is a euphemism; what the Biden administration is doing is the blacklisting of outlets and reporters who intend to challenge Biden for his myriad catastrophes.
We have seen Biden personally lose his temper when challenged by reporters — here, here, and here — among many other occasions. His staff once locked a reporter in a closet.
It's been almost one and a half years since Biden was inaugurated, and he has had fewer solo pressers or TV interviews than any previous president.
Biden's last "serious" TV interview was with Lester Holt of NBC News back on Feb. 10. The only other TV interview was with "comedian" Jimmy Kimmel. Both were favorable forums where no uncomfortable questions were asked.
The White House Transition Project, a non-partisan group that chronicles presidential communications, noted that from his inauguration on Jan. 20, 2021 up to April 29, 2022, Biden gave 23 interviews. Most of the interviews were in print, which means the words were probably someone else's.
By contrast, Donald Trump gave 95 interviews during the same period in his presidency. Over their equivalent periods, Obama gave 187 interviews, George W. Bush gave 60, Bill Clinton gave 64, George H.W. Bush gave 70, and Ronald Reagan gave 78.
Biden has also held fewer solo press conferences than other recent presidents.
Beyond formal pressers, Biden has had almost no free interactions with the press. Where Biden does have unscripted media interactions, he often commits major gaffes that the White House staff feel compelled to walk back.
As expected, the mainstream media have not covered the letter much — if such a letter was sent during the Trump administration, it would have covered it as if it were a global crisis.
Back in 2017, when Trump was inaugurated, Tom Hanks gifted an espresso machine to the White House press corps, urging the press to "keep up the good fight for the truth, justice, and the American way."
Expect no words of support from Hanks this time.
Hanks narrated a documentary that celebrated Biden's first anniversary in office.
It once again proves that the opposition to Trump was never driven by principles; it was pure partisan hatred.
It has to be remembered that the mainstream media, including the White House press corps, function as willing propagandists for Democrats. In fact, the Democrats and the media should not be thought of as separate entities; the media are like a department within the Democrat party.
There is no difference between the utterances of Democrat operatives and media personnel. They often use identical phraseology for any given situation. Buzzwords such as "insurrection" and "collusion" didn't become popular by chance. An adept Democrat wordsmith coined these terms, and the media popularized them by obediently parroting them.
If any such letter had been addressed to President Trump, it probably would have contained expletives, and the tone would have been that of contempt and defiance. The insolence would have been justified by everybody else because it was for the "greater good."
But with the Biden administration, despite reporters' humiliation, the press doesn't seem to get angry or affronted. The tone of the letter, especially the beginning, is that of supplicant well-wishers begging for access, not because it is essential for democracy, but because it undermines Biden's credibility as "a defender of the First Amendment."
The question remains: why now, and why so openly?
The first reason is that Biden has presided over so many unmitigated disasters that they are impossible to disguise. Reporters have to be seen asking tough questions to retain some credibility in the future.
The second reason is that there seems to be a mutiny against Biden brewing among the Democrats.
Democrat bastions such as The New York Times, Vanity Fair, The Washington Post, and The Atlantic are writing negative reports already and rapidly eroding trust in Biden among the Democrats, some of whom are urging him not to seek re-election.
David Axelrod, the chief election strategist for Obama, expressed doubts about Biden's abilities owing to his age. Democrat Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez refused to endorse Biden for 2024. Democrat Rep. Abigail Spanberger called out Biden for being a disruptive force and declined to take Biden's help on the campaign trail. Another Democrat representative, Ro Khanna, took aim at Biden over inflation.
The letter by the White House press corps is perhaps another instance of the Democrats signaling to Biden via proxy that his time is up and that these "attacks" could evolve into blandishments unless he announces he is not running in 2024.
Image: KellerBN at English Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 3.0.