What if Kayleigh McEnany, President Trump’s last Press Secretary, requested that media outlets submit their questions ahead of time so she could prepare her answers accordingly before press conferences. There would be widespread rioting in newsrooms around the country. Jim Acosta would squeal for a full week without eating, sleeping, or even breathing. Op-eds in every major newspaper would be calling for her resignation and proclaiming the death of the free press.
That didn’t happen, though. McEnany was well equipped to handle the barrage of negative, biased questions thrown at her every time she stepped to the podium. More times than not she got the better of her press antagonists. And she did so with only her cunning and intellect to guide her through the mysterious waters of the White House Press Corp. But her successor isn’t quite as skilled. According to The National Pulse:
As reported by The Daily Beast, Biden’s “staff have already on occasion probed reporters to see what questions they plan on asking new White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki when called upon during briefings” – less than two weeks into the former veep’s term. The “requests prompted concerns” among the White House press corps, causing several reporters to flag them on a White House Correspondents Association Zoom call on January 29th.
“According to multiple sources, leaders at the meeting advised print reporters to push back against requests by the White House press team to learn of questions in advance, or simply to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries,” The Daily Beast summarized.
Other sources were quoted as slamming the requests as inhibiting the press from “doing its job” and operating “freely” in the Biden administration:
“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.”
“It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it,” another knowledgeable source said.
What’s more, “Biden’s press team did not deny that staffers had solicited questions from reporters.” It excused its efforts to contact reporters before briefings as part of its strategy to “avoid appearing to dodge questions during briefings.”
We should give at least a little credit to mainstream media for giving a mild pushback against the requests from Joe Biden’s communications team. It goes to show that when there’s not an election on the line for them to help Democrats win, they fall back on their original instincts of being, you know, journalists.
The pushback, while present, has been very mild against the Biden administration compared to what it would be if the Trump administration tried to pull the same stunt. But there was pushback, so I guess that’s something.
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