In a controversial move, the Biden administration has recently revoked the “hard pass” White House credentials of 442 journalists, a shift equating to a 31 percent reduction in the press corps. The new protocol has been sharply criticized, sparking heated debates over its implications on media freedom and the distribution of news.
These significant changes follow the implementation of new guidelines where only reporters able to demonstrate full-time employment with a principal news dissemination organization, a physical address in the Washington, D.C., area, and previous access to the White House campus within the last six months for work purposes, qualify for the coveted pass.
While the White House told Politico that only one reporter had their application for a new hard pass denied, the reality is hundreds have lost their access due to the stricter qualifications. Under this new scheme, reporters can still access the White House but face daily reviews of their permissions and heightened Secret Service inspections.
Arguing against these stringent measures, a lawyer representing Matthew Anthony Harper, White House correspondent for InterMountain Christian News, stated: “The requirement of accreditation by a press gallery in either the U.S. Congress or the Supreme Court appears to be an effort to purge smaller, regional news outlets who cannot afford enough reporters to continually cover both the White House and another branch of government.”
The regulations have also introduced behavioral control, threatening ejection from press briefings for reporters who excessively interrupt or argue with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Notably, journalist Simon Ateba faced potential expulsion for repeatedly interrupting Jean-Pierre.