President Joe Biden’s administration has seen a number of scandals, both big and little, but most of them have received only a muted response from the reporters that make up the White House press corps, with the exception of one in particular that has dozens of reporters unusually fired up.
The White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre has just received a letter from 68 journalists demanding an explanation and an end to the administration’s longstanding practice of limiting media access to President Biden.
That letter questioned the capacity restrictions still attributed to the pandemic, the ostensibly arbitrary and murky selection procedure for reporters to fill those few available positions, and even the veracity of Biden’s own professed position as a steadfast defender of the press freedom guaranteed by the First Amendment.
The brief letter to Jean-Pierre was written by Salon’s Brian Karem, who torments Biden’s press secretary with probing questions in the same manner he tortured the spokesmen for former President Donald Trump. 67 other journalists also signed and approved the letter.
Karem said in the letter, “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. We are all left wondering who is making these decisions and what are the criteria on which they are based?”
Karem noted that the initial limits brought on by the pandemic were acceptable, but he also pointed out that almost all other COVID-related restrictions had been loosened. He claimed they were never given an explanation for why the sections that are usually available to the journalists are still off-limits.
The letter then discussed the murky procedure by which the White House chooses which reporters will be included in the pool that is allowed to cover specific events while all other journalists are forced to wait for dwindling open press conferences for a potential opportunity to speak with or question the president.
Karem’s letter came after months of intense behind-the-scenes attempts by other journalists and the White House Correspondents Association, but in vain, to persuade the White House to change direction and lift the media limitations it had placed in the middle of 2002 without explanation.