White House Cuts Off The Press – Biden Won’t Be Making Many More ‘Appearances’

The White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) announced that it would be slashing the capacity for press briefings – marking just the latest effort by the administration to limit transparency.

Despite the fact that White House reporters are already subject to vaccine mandates it appears the White House is using COVID-19 as an excuse to restrict the number of reporters allowed in their briefings.

The Hill reported:

“The board of the WHCA voted unanimously to return to the reduced seating arrangement that was in place from last summer until earlier this year, with 14 seats out of the 49 in the room being used, association president Steve Portnoy announced in an email to the organization’s members… The WHCA intends to revisit the seating arrangement later in the month, depending on case rates…

The WHCA has for weeks been urging reporters working out of the White House to take a rapid COVID-19 test if possible before coming to the building, and to wear a high-quality mask like an N95.”

“Given the virulence of the spread, medical experts have once again advised that it would be prudent to substantially reduce the number of people working in the cramped, poorly ventilated workspace that we share,” Portnoy wrote.

“A primary objective is ensuring we are able to hold the administration accountable to the public, while preventing an outbreak that might limit our ability to cover the president in close quarters.”

Beginning in August 2021, all reporters visiting the White House grounds were required to receive COVID-19 vaccines, submit to testing at their own expense, or procure a negative test of their own.

99% of the White House press corps is vaccinated, nevertheless, the new restrictions will limit access to the press briefings for reporters outside of the mainstream media.

“When the WHCA first limited briefing attendance during the pandemic, there was at least one rotating seat available to accommodate all WHCA members,” Athey explained on Twitter. “Now the briefing room appears to be limited to only outlets with a previously assigned seat.”

“Smaller & independent outlets would normally stand in the briefing room aisles bc they don’t get an assigned seat from the WHCA. They cannot do that now because of the ‘omicron surge,’” she claimed. “Previously, the WHCA sought to accommodate these members during the pandemic by giving them a seat to take turns in. That seat does not exist this time around.”

The capacity restrictions occur just weeks after a report revealed that the White House is trying to minimize negative press coverage, with officials allegedly “begging” reporters to deliver “favorable” news about the administration.

“I’m told the conversations have been productive, with anchors and reporters and producers getting to talk with the officials,” CNN reporter Oliver Darcy wrote in a recent newsletter.

Days after she assumed her position, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki allegedly tried to solicit questions from journalists ahead of her daily briefings. The Daily Beast published a story headlined “White House Reporters: Biden Team Wanted Our Questions in Advance” in February of last year.

“According to three sources with knowledge of the matter, as well as written communications reviewed by The Daily Beast, the new president’s communications staff have already on occasion probed reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when called upon during briefings,” the article said.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said. “That’s not really a free press at all.”

Author: Jason Buxton