EXCLUSIVE: WHCA Advised Biden Admin On New Rules Governing Press Passes

(Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Brianna Lyman News and Commentary Writer
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The Biden administration consulted with “leaders” at the White House Correspondents Association (WHCA) prior to rolling out new rules that govern press passes, a White House source confirmed to the Daily Caller.

The White House released a new set of rules on May 5 for journalists to be credentialed with a “hard pass,” mandating reporters work for “an organization whose principal business is news dissemination.” The new rules also state journalists with access must act in a “professional manner” and not impede “events or briefings.” Repeated offenders would face the possibility of having their hard pass revoked.

The WHCA — an organization committed to giving White House “access” to journalists — was initially reluctant to tell the Daily Caller whether they were involved with crafting the new policy. (RELATED: ‘Totally Outrageous’: NY Post Reporter Blasts Biden Admin For Banning His Outlet From Event)

“We aren’t going to comment at this time,” WHCA board member Tamara Keith said.

WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 09: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on May 09, 2023 in Washington, DC. Jean-Pierre took questions from reporters on a range of topics including U.S. President Joe Biden's upcoming meeting with Congressional Leadership over the debt ceiling and the expiration of Title 42. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 09: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre speaks during the daily news briefing at the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room of the White House on May 09, 2023 in Washington, DC. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

The White House revealed that the WHCA was indeed involved with creating a policy that includes, among other provisions, the potential for journalists to be booted from White House grounds.

“We have thoughtfully considered returning to prior guidelines for more than a year,” a White House official told the Daily Caller.

“As we neared a final decision, we informed White House Correspondents Association leadership of our plans and received feedback, as a result of which we made important updates to the policy, like accommodating permalancer and journalists without a residence in DC,” the official added.

Keith later confirmed to the Daily Caller that their feedback referred to “both the hardpass application and the paragraph about giving warnings and potentially revoking hard passes.”

“We expressed concern to the White House that this language could be abused by this or a future administration,” Keith said.

Keith’s explanation came only after the Daily Caller pressed multiple times on what role the WHCA played in crafting the White House’s press policy.

Initially, Keith only admitted to working with the White House on the rule.

“They told us they were going to do this,” Keith said to the Daily Caller. “We pushed back where we could and did succeed at getting a few small changes. But it very much continues to be their policy and not ours.”

Keith refused to specify which rules the WHCA pushed back against. The Daily Caller provided multiple opportunities for Keith to confirm what specific “feedback” was given and whether the WHCA condemned the policy of barring certain reporters from being in the briefing room if they do not “act” a certain way prior to and after publication of the initial story.

The Trump administration attempted to temporarily ban reporters who confronted administration staff, but a federal appeals court ruled that journalist Brian Karem, who had a heated exchange with former Trump official Sebastian Gorka, did not have “fair notice” to have his credentials revoked.

The new rules come after Simon Ateba, a reporter for Today News Africa, interrupted several White House press briefings demanding to know why he and other reporters were not being called on by White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre.

Ateba called the collaboration “deeply unsettling” in a statement to the Daily Caller.

“It is deeply unsettling to witness the collaboration between the White House and White House Correspondents Association in censoring journalists who cover President Joe Biden, particularly when they do it to target me, a black, African journalist trying to strengthen ties between Africa and the United States,” Ateba said.

“The press secretary not only struggles to effectively convey the President’s message to the American people, but also fails to rise above personal emotions in order to punish those who question her. Furthermore, she neglects to uphold the First Amendment, which safeguards a free press and free speech.”

Editor’s Note: This story was updated to reflect Keith’s correspondence with the Daily Caller after initial publication. She did not provide specific details about what the WHCA objected to until after the story went live, despite repeated requests and ample opportunity to respond.