Nearly 70 journalists signed a letter Thursday requesting increased access to traditional White House venues and key events in a letter to White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.
Reporters demanded the traditional venues and major events on the White House campus be reopened after being largely restricted throughout President Joe Biden’s administration. Reporters from several major news outlets and TV correspondents signed the letter, including Daily Caller White House correspondent Shelby Talcott and White House Correspondents’ Association President Steven Portnoy.
“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 said. “We are all left wondering who is making these decisions and what are the criteria on which they are based?”
The reporters said open press remarks are essential for them to have the chance to personally interact with the president, arguing Biden’s claims of being a “defender of the First Amendment” are called into question. They urge open access without the requirement of filling out a request prior to the event.
“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 to answer,” the letter stated. “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. A reporter’s 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.”
The previous administrations, including former President Donald Trump’s, allowed full access to locations across the White House where presidential events were being held. (RELATED: Chris Wallace Presses Psaki On Why Biden Is ‘Sheltered From The Press’)
White House columnist Brian Karem, who writes for Salon, drafted the letter, the New York Post reported. Kaitlan Collins of CNN, Francesca Chambers of USA Today, Ed O’Keefe and Sara Cook of CBS News and Eugene Daniels of Politico were also among those who signed the letter.
The New York Post’s Steven Nelson pressed Jean-Pierre on the selective process of being admitted to presidential events, even accusing the White House of having a “blacklist.” The press secretary said she was unaware of how the process works. One journalist who signed the letter was told by a press officer that a number generator determined who could attend the events, according to the New York Post.
Another heard that the process was allegedly based on the size of the audience a reporter’s outlet has, the outlet reported. Some outlets have gone six months without being admitted into the White House or longer.
In April, Karem wrote a letter to former White House press secretary Jen Psaki that restrictions were being placed on him because he was “not liked,” the outlet reported.
Portnoy told Biden in 2021 that the White House Press Corps. wished for the East Room, the largest indoor space in the White House, would be open to reporters, the outlet reported.