Kim Jong Un and his security team reportedly forced U.S. reporters out of their headquarters in a Vietnamese hotel where the North Korean leader is staying.
The White House press corps spent weeks setting up a filing center with cameras, lighting and other media equipment in the Melia Hanoi hotel in preparation for the second historic summit between the North Korean leader and President Donald Trump.
But the press learned Monday night from a Vietnamese government spokesperson that they were being relocated to the International Media Center.
the American Media Center will be relocated from Melia hotel to International Media Center at 91 Tran Hung Dao Hanoi#DPRKUSA #HanoiSummit
— MoFAVietNam Spokesperson (@PressDept_MoFA) February 26, 2019
Reporters who were booked to stay in the Melia were not asked to leave, but the last-minute change-up left the press scrambling to figure out a new space from which to report. According to The Washington Post, the filing center was booked by the White House on the seventh floor of the Melia and had it outfitted with hundreds of seats, dozens of tables, water bottles and extension cords.
As the Melia hotel prepared for Kim’s stay, reporters were told not to take videos or photographs in the hotel lobby and were banned from doing live reports. (RELATED: Singapore Hooked Kim Jong Un Up With A Super Swanky Hotel Suite During His Stay)
NBC’s Peter Alexander said that reporters were ushered out of the hotel lobby and forced to the seventh floor, although they could not use the elevators because they were not allowed to step on the red carpet rolled out for Kim. Alexander alleged that he tried to take photos of the intense preparations but was ordered to delete them by a security official.
My reporter’s notebook from *inside* Kim Jong-un’s Hanoi hotel, where I’m staying, before I was ordered to clear out of the lobby… pic.twitter.com/Rw4aTLXJIZ
— Peter Alexander (@PeterAlexander) February 26, 2019
Fox News’ Chief White House Correspondent John Roberts asserted that such treatment of the press is unprecedented, writing, “In nearly 10 years covering the @WhiteHouse, having been on Presidential trips to more than 100 countries, I have never seen the White House Press Corps kicked out of our unilateral press/broadcast center by request of a foreign leader.”
In nearly 10 years covering the @WhiteHouse, having been on Presidential trips to more than 100 countries, I have never seen the White House Press Corps kicked out of our unilateral press/broadcast center by request of a foreign leader.
— John Roberts (@johnrobertsFox) February 26, 2019
Kristin Fisher, the Washington correspondent for Fox News, claimed a hotel employee told her that the North Koreans were even blocking the WiFi.
Kim’s security concerns and refusal to accept a free press will make the trip infinitely more difficult to cover for the American press.