The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) on Friday expressed concern over President-elect Donald Trump’s move to deny access to reporters and urged him to allow journalists to do their job. “The White House Correspondents’ Association is deeply concerned by President-elect Donald Trump’s decision to reject the practice of travelling with a ‘protective pool’ of reporters for his first visit to Washington since the election,” WHCA President Jeff Mason said.
In addition to breaking with decades of historical precedent and First Amendment principles, this decision could leave Americans blind about his whereabouts and well-being in the event of a national crisis, he said in a statement.
“A pool of reporters is in place and ready to cover President-elect Trump. The WHCA urges President-elect Trump to allow it to do its job, including being present for motorcade movements, meetings, and other interactions. Not allowing a pool of journalists to travel with and cover the next president of the United States is unacceptable,” Mason said.
Later, Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks said that the pool would be restored soon.
“We fully expect to operate a traditional pool and look forward to implementing our plans in the near future,” Hicks said. “We appreciate your patience as we navigate the transition process.”
The White House was also criticised by reporters for denying them access to the meeting between the First Lady and the incoming First Lady, and that between the Vice President and the Vice President-elect.
A battery of reporters were, however, allowed inside the Oval Office for a brief media appearance of the Obama-Trump meeting.
“You just were in the Oval Office with the President of the US and the President-elect, so it’s not accurate to say that there was no press access,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters at his daily news conference.
“Over the last eight years, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to have many of you in my office over the years advocating for greater access to the President and the work that he’s doing in the Oval Office. What that typically means is you coming in and advocating for the opportunity to see the President of the US sitting in the Oval Office, photograph him sitting next to the person that he’s meeting with, and then hear from both people about the meeting.
“That’s the priority that has been conveyed to me in countless meetings with all of you over the last eight years,” he said.
“That is exactly what was provided today. That was not provided in 2008. I wasn’t part of designing the press access for 2008, so I can’t account for all of the reasons for that. But the press access that we put together today was based on the guidance that we’ve received from all of you over the last eight years about what the priority is. And we were pleased to be in a position to provide that today,” he said.
“It is an indication of the commitment that we have to transparency, and it is an indication that the President has to building public confidence in the shared commitment to a smooth and effective transition.