Trump administration commits ‘mass purge’ of journalists allowed to enter White House

'There’s something wrong with a president having the power to decide which journalists can cover him'

Chris Riotta
New York
Friday 10 May 2019 15:58 BST
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Donald Trump’s administration has committed what journalists are describing to be a “mass purge” of press passes allowing career reporters to easily access the White House.

Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank, who this week received notice that his press pass had been revoked, along with many reporters in the White House press corps, wrote on Wednesday: “There’s something wrong with a president having the power to decide which journalists can cover him.”

“I was part of a mass purge of ‘hard pass’ holders after the White House implemented a new standard that designated as unqualified almost the entire White House press corps, including all seven of The Post’s White House correspondents,” Mr Milbank wrote.

The move arrives amid a sharp reduction in the number of White House daily press briefings and continued tensions between the administration and reporters tasked with covering it.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders announced she would seek to limit the number of journalists with hard passes based on whether they need to be “physically present at the White House” for 90 or more days of their jobs during a 180-day period.

Mr Milbank suggested he was the only Washington Post employee to not receive an exception to the new rules because he is a "Trump critic."

The White House has provided some exceptions to the new rules for “senior journalists,” though for the most part a sharp reduction in media at the White House will likely be seen in the coming days. News outlets that have contested the change are reportedly in the process of securing shorter-term passes and hard passes for those with special circumstances.

Ms Sanders claimed the decision to purge hard passes came from the US Secret Service, adding, “No one’s access is being limited.”

In his article published Wednesday, Mr Milbank said he was “not looking for pity,” while noting how the sharp reduction in briefings “have devalued White House coverage anyway.”

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“White House officials offered me and others it disqualified a lesser credential called a six-month pass. They say it will grant equivalent access, but for various technical reasons, that isn’t true,” he wrote. “I’ll keep covering the White House, albeit from a distance, and wait for things to return to normal — if they ever do.”

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