The White House Press Corps unloaded on President Joe Biden’s administration, complaining about the “ahistoric” lack of access to the president and revealing that they were being required to fill out request forms to gain entry into areas that previous administrations had freely allowed.
The Corps shared their grievances on Thursday in a letter addressed to Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, demanding that the White House stop limiting reporters’ access and making it clear that it was not their first such request.
“We once again respectfully request the Biden administration – without exception-re-open all of the traditional venues for presidential remarks at the White House, including the East Room and the South Court Auditorium, for any reporter admitted to the White House campus,” the letter began. “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 letter mentioned the fact that some of the restrictions had been put in place to mitigate the spread of COVID, but that when other things had returned to normal, the White House had continued to limit press access.
“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 … 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,” the letter continued.
The letter concluded by saying that members of the Press Corps understood that the president and his administration might not always like them or the questions they asked, but it was their job to allow access — and they noted that even former President Trump, who was often criticized for being hostile to reporters, had given freer access to the press.
“Let us be candid. Our job is not to be liked, nor is it to be concerned about whether or not you like what we ask. Reporters’ ability to question the most powerful man in our government shouldn’t be discretionary. The administration’s continued efforts to limit access to the president cannot be defended. Any notion that space is ‘limited’ is not supported by the fact that every other president before Biden (including Trump) allowed full access to the very same spaces without making us fill out a request form prior to admittance.”
The letter was drafted by Salon’s Brian Karem and signed by over 60 members of the Press Corp — including CNN’s Kaitlan Collins, CBS’ Ed O’Keefe, Jacqui Heinrich and Kevin Corke from Fox News, and WH Press Correspondents Association President Steven Portnoy.