Press Corps Pushes Back Against Possible White House Eviction
WASHINGTON - The White House press corps is pushing back against suggestions from top officials in Donald Trump’s incoming administration that journalists covering the president-elect may no longer have a spot in the White House to do their jobs.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) Board issued a critical statement Sunday about the possible relocation out of the executive mansion’s briefing room, following statements from the Trump staff that indicated press placement was not guaranteed.
“We object strenuously to any move that would shield the president and his advisers from the scrutiny of an on-site White House press corps,” Jeff Mason, chair of the WHCA, wrote in an email on behalf of the group’s members.
“The briefing room is open now to all reporters who request access. We support that and always will,” Mason said. “The WHCA will fight to keep the briefing room and West Wing access to senior administration officials open.”
Mason added that he would be meeting with incoming White House press secretary Sean Spicer in order to “try to get more clarity on exactly what they are suggesting.”
The statement came shortly after a report in Esquire magazine that the Trump administration could be looking to evict the press corps from its spot in the White House Briefing Room, where journalists assigned to cover the president have been for decades.
“There has been no decision,” Sean Spicer told Esquire in a report published Saturday. He added that “there has been some discussion about how to do it."
Vice President-elect Mike Pence weighed in on the potential press eviction Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” offering up the explanation that the press may be better served in a briefing area that wasn’t just “a pretty small room.”
“I think the interest of the team is to make sure that we accommodate the broadest number of people who are interested in media from around the country and around the world,” Pence said. He confirmed Spicer’s claim, however, that “no decision” had yet been made.
The reports come after recent flare-ups of Mr. Trump’s own antagonistic relationship with the press. During his first news conference with journalists since his election victory, the president-elect repeatedly slammed members of established news outlets as “fake news.”
And in his most recent tweet Sunday, Mr. Trump charged that the “media should apologize” for their recent coverage of an unverified dossier alleging compromising ties to Russia.
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