To the editor:
Bipartisan moments in news-on-the-news have been rare of late. One happened yesterday, though, that is worthy of note.
Fox News has joined with CNN and other outlets and organizations in rightly decrying a disturbing action taken by White House officials.
Yesterday, White House deputy chief of staff for communications, Bill Shine, a former Fox News executive, made a very bad move.
In a nutshell, CNN White House pool reporter Kaitlan Collins asked some questions during an earlier photo op in the Oval Office that Press Secretary Sarah Sanders deemed “inappropriate,” as multiple outlets reported.
The questions included some addressing the current situation with Michael Cohen as well as one about Vladimir Putin.
Shine subsequently “disinvited” that reporter from the pop-up presser later in the day in the Rose Garden, presumably in retaliation for the reporter asking uncomfortable questions. Press Secretary Sanders, for her part, said the disinvitation was because the reporter repeatedly refused to leave when asked to do so.
That evening, on Fox News' Special Report, host Brett Baier announced that the network stands with CNN in demanding better.
Fox News President Jay Wallace released a statement saying, “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”
A statement issued by Sarah Sanders, in defense of the decision, said that Collins was asked to leave and had refused. She also said that the White House does support a free press.
“At the conclusion of a press event in the Oval Office a reporter shouted questions and refused to leave despite repeatedly being asked to do so,” Sanders said in the statement, as reported by CNBC. “Subsequently, our staff informed her she was not welcome to participate in the next event, but made clear that any other journalist from her network could attend. She said it didn’t matter to her because she hadn’t planned to be there anyway. To be clear, we support a free press and ask that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House,”.
The White House Press Corps also filed a complaint.
There are precious few points on which liberals and conservatives agree. Protecting and defending our First Amendment is among them.
All is lost if we don't all stand behind keeping a free press free. That means reporters from all major media outlets must have equal access to covering our elected officials. This goes double for outlets which may be at political or philosophical odds with the officials they're covering.
From local municipal leaders to New Jersey state officials to the President of the United States, it is absolutely vital that we preserve and protect our First Amendment.
Dr. Michele Blood
Editor’s note: The author is a freelance contributor to TAPinto Flemington-Raritan.