OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Conservatives have long believed that the Washington Press Corps is largely all-in with the Democratic Party, but that said, dozens of members have voiced their displeasure at a lack of regular, unfettered access to President Joe Biden.
Though former President Donald Trump regularly stopped to take questions from the press corps, Biden rarely does so and when he does, questions are regularly ‘pre-approved’ according to a letter 68 correspondents sent to the White House on Thursday.
Tonight, 68 White House journalists asked @PressSec to end the mysterious prescreening of reporters let into President Biden's events, calling it 'antithetical to the concept of a free press' https://t.co/X5CN1qBL3m pic.twitter.com/v2SqOoBazQ
— Steven Nelson (@stevennelson10) June 30, 2022
“We once again respectfully request the Biden administration, without exception, re-open all of the traditional venues for presidential remarks at the White House including the east room and the south court auditorium for any reporter admitted to the White House campus,” the letter opened.
“The current method of allowing a limited number of reporters into these events is not only restricted and anti-ethical 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. We are all left wondering who is making these decisions and what are the criteria and which they are based,” the correspondents wrote.
“We appreciate that COVID social distancing guidelines played a role at first but in the year and a half that Joe Biden has been president and since such guidelines have been eased we’ve never gotten an explanation as to why the areas that have traditionally been open all press remain restricted,” the letter went on.
“For any report or not in the pool that covers the president open press remarks represent the only time most of the reporters who cover the president might be positioned to ask him a question or interact with him at all,” the letter added.
“The inability of the White House to be candid and transparent about the selection process for reporters attending his remarks undermines President Biden‘s credibility when he says he is a defender of the first amendment,” the correspondents wrote.
“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 administration doesn’t want to answer,” they said.
“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 a government shouldn’t be discretionary,” the straightforward letter continued.
“The administration‘s continued efforts to limit access to the president cannot be defended. The notion that space is limited is not supported by the fact that every other president before Biden, including Trump, allowed full access to the very same space without making us fill out a request form prior to admittance,” the reporters said.
“Thank you for attention to these historical problems we ask you to see it that the protocols are changed back to access norms of which we are accustomed,” they added.
The Biden administration has, in the past, gone out of its way to keep Biden away from reporters and to quash any attempt by media outlets to ask him unscripted, non-pre-approved questions.
Those efforts reached the absurd when, during an Easter event at the White House, White House Director of Message Planning Meghan Hays, dressed in an Easter Bunny costume, famously interrupted Biden as he interacted with reporters regarding a question about Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Why is the Easter Bunny directing the President of the United States 🥲🥲🥲🥲🥲🥲🥲🥲 pic.twitter.com/9bgXQJ6EXW
— Abigail Marone 🇺🇸 (@abigailmarone) April 18, 2022
After that video went viral, it led several people to ask who was in the costume: Turns out it was likely the White House Director of Message Planning Meghan Hays.
First, White House press assistant Angela Perez gave a little sneak peek behind the scenes when she tweeted a photo with the caption, “Hopping on a Zoom call.”
Hopping on a zoom call. 🐰 pic.twitter.com/voxLi3lA77
— Angela Perez (@ADCPerez46) April 18, 2022
That led Bonchie from Red State to observe, “So we now know the Easter Bunny was someone inside the comms shop. The White House literally put one of Biden’s handlers in an Easter Bunny suit to keep him from talking to reporters. Just incredible stuff.”
Hays then gave up the mystery herself.
— Meghan Hays (@MegHays46) April 18, 2022