Nearly 70 journalists have urged White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre to drop the secretive pre-screening process the administration has been using to limit reporter access to large events with President Biden.
The letter was signed by scores of journalists across dozens of outlets including The Washington Times.
White House aides have restricted event access to only reporters who have been “pre-credentialed” for events with Mr. Biden. When reporters have pressed for reasons on why they were not approved for an event with the president, they’ve heard varied explanations ranging from COVID-19 restrictions to limited space in the room where the event was held.
At one point, the Times was told that reporters were rotated on a monthly basis, but that doesn’t appear to be accurate as several outlets have gone several months without being admitted.
The conflicting explanations and cryptic selection process has fueled concerns the administration is limiting who can ask Mr. Biden questions.
At a White House press briefing earlier this month, Ms. Jean-Pierre admitted that she didn’t know how the selection process worked but pushed back on claims the administration is blacklisting reporters.
Former White House press secretary Jen Psaki also rebuffed calls to explain the selection process, and the White House Correspondents’ Association says their efforts to understand why some reporters are excluded from events were unsuccessful.
Members of the White House press corps are now calling on the administration to open up events to all reporters.
“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 reporters wrote.
“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.
Among some of the bigger names that signed the letter are CNN’s Kaitlin Collins, Fox News’ Jacqui Heinrich, former ABC White House reporter Sam Donaldson, The New York Times’ Peter Baker and Newmax’s James Rosen.
The reporters called out the White House on the opaque process of selecting reporters, noting that COVID-19 restrictions have been relaxed, yet “areas that have traditionally been open to all press remain restricted.”
“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 adds, implying that the Biden White House is not living up to the ideals of a free press,” the reporters wrote.
“We are all left wondering who is making these decisions and what are the criteria on which they are based?” they added.