New rules from the Biden administration threaten to curtail media access to the White House, with the press credentials of Daily Signal chief correspondent Fred Lucas and other journalists–most of them conservative–soon to be revoked.
These new stipulations, due to be implemented July 31, give Biden’s press team increased power to revoke credentials. “Hard pass” holders are required to secure “accreditation by a press gallery in either the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, or Supreme Court.” The exact number of journalists affected remains undisclosed, highlighting the lack of transparency surrounding the issue.
Akin to Lucas, Today News Africa’s White House correspondent, Simon Ateba, has expressed concern over these new rules, which specify that reporters must work for an organization primarily focused on news dissemination, while upholding professionalism and respect.
These rules have sparked criticism for their potential to stifle robust journalism. As The Washington Post highlighted, past cases involving journalists like Jim Acosta and Brian Karem during the Trump administration led to court battles, suggesting possible legal confrontations for the Biden administration as well.
The White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) has adopted an officially noncommittal stance, despite being integral to the rule consultation. According to a Biden official, they received feedback from the WHCA and made updates accordingly. However, many see this policy as the administration’s alone.
The administration justifies these rules as a security measure to limit access to hard passes. Yet, critics argue that they are “unduly vague,” and could be abused to discourage aggressive journalism or unfavorable viewpoints.
Tensions between the press and Biden’s administration are not new. Incidents involving abrasive exchanges with reporters have occurred both domestically and during international trips, revealing a difficult relationship between the current administration and the media. Reporters have shown particular frustration with Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and her struggle to answer basic questions during briefings.
Biden’s direct interactions with reporters have also been marked by controversy. His limited number of press conferences and the administration’s seeming resistance to answering unscripted questions have been highlighted as significant challenges by reporters.
The new rules imposed by the Biden administration mark a significant shift in White House-press relations, with potential implications for the future of journalistic access and the public’s right to information.