Sunday, July 21, 2024

White House Wants Reporters to Hand Over Questions Before Briefings

'It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] to deal with it...'

The Biden administration is reportedly asking reporters to submit their questions prior to press briefings so they can be vetted by the president’s communications staffers, according to the Daily Beast.

The issue came up during a White House Correspondents’ Association video call last Friday when WHCA leaders encouraged reporters not to hand over their questions and to push back on Biden’s demands.

“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] to deal with it,” one source explained.

Several journalists said the move from Biden’s White House is disappointing, especially given Biden’s vow to be straight-up with members of the press.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one White House correspondent said. “That’s not really a free press at all.”

Biden’s communications team did not deny that it has begun reaching out to reporters ahead of press briefings, but defended its actions as part of Biden’s effort to improve the quality of information given during briefings.

“Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement. “Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”

Media critic Jeffrey McCall said Biden’s new strategy makes it seem as if his White House is working directly with the press to craft a narrative.

“The White House press office needs to balance this matter carefully. It does make sense, on one level, for the press secretary to be prepared in advance to best respond to topics on reporters’ minds. On the other hand, gathering questions in advance could well appear to veteran reporters that press secretary Psaki is pre-screening questions or pre-preparing spin,” McCall told Fox News.

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