As reported in the Columbia Journalism Review by Mathew Ingram / May 9, 2019
IN WHAT APPEARS TO BE an unprecedented move, the White House revoked the press passes of a significant chunk of the Washington press corps because they didn’t meet a new standard, according to Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank.
Under the new rules, rolled out earlier this year, in order to qualify for the highest level of access—known as a “hard pass”—journalists had to be present in the White House for at least 90 days out of a 180-day period. According to Milbank, virtually the entire press corps failed to meet this new test, including all six of the Post’s White House correspondents.
Media outlets then had to apply for exceptions to cover their senior journalists, or settle for six-month passes, which don’t allow as much access.
The Post applied for and was granted exceptions for its White House correspondents, Milbank says, but he was not given one.
“I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic,” he wrote on Wednesday. “The move is perfectly in line with Trump’s banning of certain news organizations, including The Post, from his campaign events and his threats to revoke White House credentials of journalists he doesn’t like.”
Milbank noted that, since dozens of senior correspondents didn’t meet the new standards either, “they all serve at the pleasure of Press Secretary Sarah Sanders” and
“therefore, in theory, can have their credentials revoked any time they annoy Trump or his aides.” (The White House press secretary told the Post the move was a result of security concerns, not a desire to crack down on specific journalists.)
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