Journalists Demonstrate Solidarity After The White House Banned A Reporter From A Press Event

The controversy has prompted unusual alliances.

Rival news outlets came together in an act of solidarity after CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins was denied access to an open press event at the White House.

In an extraordinary move, Collins, a member of the White House press corps, was told she couldn't enter the event because she had allegedly acted inappropriately by shouting questions at President Donald Trump, CNN said. Video and audio of her conduct seem to depict a typical press pool interaction with the president, though, which caused a number of high profile journalists to come to Collins' defense.


Across Twitter, journalists from rival networks like Fox News spoke out in solidarity for Collins. Fox News president Jay Wallace issued a statement saying the network stands in "strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press." Fox News primetime host Bret Baier stood firmly with Collins, noting on Twitter that "when President Obama's administration left us out of round robin interviews — CNN and @jaketapper spoke out for us.  As a member of the WH press pool - on the news side - that's what is supposed to happen."

On Tuesday night, audio recordings that Trump's former lawyer Michael Cohen had taken were leaked to CNN and shared publicly. On Wednesday, Collins shouted questions at Trump asking if Cohen betrayed him, if he was worried about other tapes and why Russian President Vladimir Putin hadn't accepted his invitation to Washington D.C. yet.

Later in the day, Collins was denied access to an open press event in the Rose Garden with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The news was apparently delivered by Bill Shine, the new deputy communications director who came to the White House after being ousted from Fox News for his handling of sexual assault allegations, and Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary.

The White House said in a statement that it told Collins any other journalist from CNN could be there, but she wasn't allowed. 

"At the conclusion of a press event in the Oval Office, a reporter shouted questions and refused to leave despite repeatedly being asked to do so," the White House said in a statement to MSNBC. " Subsequently, our staff informed her she was not welcome to participate in the next event, but made clear that any other journalist from her network could come. She said it didn't matter to her because she hadn't planned to be there anyway. To be clear, we support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests in the White House."

Upon coming to her defense, some journalists from traditionally conservative news outlets were criticized by their followers. Many of the responses to Baier's tweet of solidarity were negative, which caused other conservative journalists to come to his defense.

"People are dragging @BretBaier for upholding basic standards of decency and journalism," Jonah Golberg, the senior editor for the National Review Online, said on Twitter. "It's really pathetic."

The defense of Collins was swift and immediate. It comes just a week after Sanders tried to avoid a follow-up question from Hallie Jackson during a White House press briefing, only to have the next reporter she called on — The Hill's Jordan Fabian — defer back to Jackson so she could ask her follow-up question. 

It was a subtle moment that produced far less news than the Collins ban, but together it's an indication of a press corps that's beginning to coalesce more and more against an administration that seems increasingly combative with the news media.

Cover image via MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images.


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