President Joe Biden’s press team is seeking to charge reporters $170 for mandatory COVID-19 tests every day they enter the White House, The Washington Post reported Friday.
The White House is reportedly seeking to implement the unprecedented measure on Monday, arguing that the cost of testing dozens of journalists each day has “strained its budget.” The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has already raised objections to the change, and critics argue it could effectively ban smaller outlets from the campus, giving major outlets a monopoly on White House access.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment on the potential charges. (RELATED: Biden’s Deputy Press Secretary Resigns After Drama Over Allegations That He Intimidated Politico Reporter)
I think part of “bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room” is not making it prohibitively expensive for smaller outlets with tight budgets to go to the White House
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) February 26, 2021
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki vowed hours after Biden’s inauguration to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room.” President Donald Trump’s White House footed the bill for testing reporters daily for months before leaving office. Biden’s White House has limited the number of tests to 80 per day.
If the charging plan goes through, some major networks with large White house teams could pay more than $1300 a day for White House access. Still, other outlets with smaller teams may not be able to afford the charge at all.
The White House has agreed, however, to continue covering the cost of testing reporters in the daily press pool, which is on a monthly rotation of a few dozen outlets. Reporters who aren’t working on the pool for a given day would have to pay for testing before being given access.