President Joe Biden’s communications staff have made efforts to find out what reporters will ask White House press secretary Jen Psaki ahead of press briefings, according to a report from the Daily Beast.
This has raised concerns from some members of the press and the issue was reportedly recently discussed during a recent informal White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) call, according to the publication.
WHCA leaders reportedly told reporters present at the virtual meeting to either push back on or ignore inquires from the administration regarding this matter. The White House’s alleged efforts, though, “pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” one source told the Daily Beast.
“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,” a White House correspondent said according to the report.
Psaki has vowed to bring “truth and transparency” back to the White House press briefings and assured White House reporters that she has a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press in our democracy, and for the role” journalists play.
She’s often had to “circle back” on unanswered questions during press briefings. On Monday, Psaki promised that she would follow up on her “circle back” responses regarding questions she hasn’t been able to field.
“I hate to disappoint conservative Twitter but I’m going to ‘circle back’ on a number of things as we often do directly.” pic.twitter.com/NG6W7XO4j7
— Daily Caller (@DailyCaller) February 1, 2021
Biden’s communications staff did not deny reports that they have tried to get questions ahead of the briefings, according to the Daily Beast.
The White House did argue that it is trying to be “as useful and informative as possible” for everyone.
“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a White House spokesperson said according to the Daily Beast. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need.”
“That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them,” the spokesperson added. (RELATED: White House Press Secretary Accuses Washington Examiner Reporter Of Twisting Biden’s Words ‘Out Of Context’)
Despite alleged pushback from reporters, this tactic doesn’t appear to be new. Former President Donald Trump’s White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and staffers for former President Barack Obama reportedly probed for questions in advance as well, the Daily Beast noted.
“This is textbook communications work. The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions, instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on,” Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary for Obama, said according to the report.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Daily Caller.