A substantial portion of the White House press corps had their press passes revoked in compliance with a new rule that was announced earlier this year, The Columbia Journalism Review reports. The so-called “50 percent rule” requires reporters who receive the highest level of access to be physically present in the White House for 90 days out of 180.
Nearly all existing White House reporters fell short of this standard, forcing many to apply for exceptions or proceed with limited six-month passes, which provide less access. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank applied for one such exception, but was denied.
“I strongly suspect it’s because I’m a Trump critic,” he wrote in response this week. “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.”
The White House has cited security concerns as the reason for the new rule, saying that the goal is simply to limit the number of individuals with regular access for the sake of physical safety. Milbank, for one, did not agree with this explanation, pointing out that the press corps essentially serves at the pleasure of the press secretary and that they can have their credentials taken away for running afoul of the administration.
Reporters and other correspondents who are left without their typical levels of access may be frustrated by this move, particularly as the Trump administration has left many of them with little reason to be consistently present on the White House grounds.
As The Inquisitr reported, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders has repeatedly set records for the longest amount of time a press secretary has gone without a press briefing.
Sanders is currently presiding over the longest period without a briefing, with Thursday marking 58 days. The previous record of 42 days was also held by Sanders. Prior to that, the longest stretch had been 41 days, once gain under Sanders.
President Donald Trump himself has encouraged Sanders to avoid the traditionally frequent press briefings, publicly encouraging his press secretary to dispense with the formality.
“The reason Sarah Sanders does not go to the ‘podium’ much anymore is that the press covers her so rudely & inaccurately, in particular certain members of the press,” he tweeted in January of this year. “I told her not to bother, the word gets out anyway! Most will never cover us fairly & hence, the term, Fake News!”
Sanders has so far been clear in indicating that the crackdown on press passes is purely security-related and in no way should be interpreted as an attack on specific journalists.