White House staff working for President Joe Biden continue limiting the number of reporters allowed into the spacious East Room for his speaking events.
The New York Post cites several White House journalists who note the unusual practice of Biden’s press team to exclude many journalists for the sake of “spacing concerns” during the coronavirus pandemic.
That was never the case for previous presidents, but the pandemic has created an excuse for the White House to keep some journalists out.
Typically only a small number of journalists are allowed to attend Biden’s speeches together with the daily rotation of the White House press pool.
That has raised concerns for some journalists in the White House press corps, who have largely been shut out.
“The East Room hasn’t shrunk in recent years so it’s hard to imagine why space constraints would suddenly require restricting the number of journalists who cover events there,” New York Times reporter Peter Baker said in an interview with the New York Post‘s Stephen Nelson.
Breitbart News has also routinely attended press events in the East Room of the White House during the administrations of former President Donald Trump and former President Barack Obama.
While Obama’s speeches were didactic, Biden’s events have become more valuable for reporters, as he tends to take some questions, even though his answers have gotten in the way of his daily messaging priorities.
Staff openly admit they do not want President Biden to engage with journalists.
“A lot of times, we say, ‘Don’t take questions,’” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in an interview with her former boss David Axelrod in May.
President Biden has only had one press conference since taking office.
National Journal reporter George Condon, a White House correspondent since 1982 also noted the unprecedented actions by the Biden administration.
“Every administration has had East Room events limited to just the press pool and others where you had to sign up in advance. What is different today is the pandemic. There just is no historical precedent for this at the White House,” Condon said.