White House Issues New ‘Decorum’ Rules, And Journalists Aren’t Happy With Them

Press Secretary Sarah Sanders speaks to reporters outside of the White House.
Mark Wilson / Getty Images

Following the restoration of CNN’s Chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta’s press credentials, the White House has released new rules related to decorum for journalists to follow. But many journalists on social media are pointing out how the new rules would allow the president or other White House staff to easily revoke privileges in the future.

The new rules for members of the White House press corps are as follows, according to a tweet from Erik Wemple from the Washington Post:

  • A journalist called upon to ask a question will ask a single question and then will yield the floor to other journalists;
  • At the discretion of the President or other White House officials taking questions, a follow-up question or questions may be permitted; and where a follow up has been allowed and asked, the questioner will then yield the floor;
  • “Yielding the floor” includes, when applicable, physically surrendering the microphone to White House staff for use by the next questioner;
  • Failure to abide by any of the rules (1-3) may result in suspension or revocation of the journalist’s hard pass.

Several journalists noted that the rules above make it easy for the White House to enforce them however they please, making it difficult for journalists to actually do their jobs.

Chris Geidner from BuzzFeed noted in a tweet on Monday afternoon that any member of the Trump White House speaking to reporters could easily avoid answering any questions from the press because the new rules would give them a tremendous amount of discretion in removing reporters in the future.

“These rules would enable any even half-competent speaker to avoid answering any and all questions posed to them by the press. The @WHCA should strongly oppose this move by the White House.”

Another BuzzFeed reporter, Paul McLeod, echoed Geidner’s concerns, and noted in a tweet he wrote that “just asking a second question can be grounds for getting your White House access revoked.”

Matt Pearce, a national correspondent for the Los Angeles Times, also expressed qualms with the new rules, arguing that they could be abused by the administration to punish some while overlooking others.

“This looks like they’re creating rules that are very easy to break and are likely to go unenforced until the government decides they want to make an example of somebody,” he wrote in a tweet.

It should be noted that the White House hasn’t traditionally made decisions on who can or cannot report on them. Determination on who does cover the White House or the president has generally followed a three-step process, per a previous reporting from the Inquisitr. That process includes (1) obtaining Congressional reporting credentials from the Standing Committee of Correspondents, (2) establishing oneself as a genuine reporter not belonging to a special interest group or lobbyist firm, and (3) passing a Secret Service background check.