BuzzFeed pulls White House reporter over COVID-19 threat, claims failure to meet ‘basic precautions’

Amid a coronavirus outbreak impacting the White House in recent days, many Capitol Hill reporters have expressed concerns about their own safety.

As reported by The New York Times, BuzzFeed pulled its correspondent from the White House press pool, claiming that lax safety protocols had jeopardized the health of journalists during an ongoing public health crisis.

“Basic precautions around the coronavirus”

The outlet confirmed its decision in a pair of tweets from top editors.

Buzzfeed Deputy Editor-in-Chief Tom Namako wrote that White House staffers have “largely not worn masks or adhered to basic precautions around the coronavirus, including in their contacts with the press.”

In his own post, Editor Mark Schoofs said that the company “will not put our reporters at needless risk of getting a deadly disease — and neither should anyone else.”

The move came after the president, first lady Melania Trump, and several others close to the administration tested positive for COVID-19. The development has resulted in outrage from many in the White House press pool.

For her part, BuzzFeed’s Kadia Goba expressed regret about the decision to remove her from her post.

“Unnecessary jeopardy”

“Anyone that knows me understands I’d rather be at the White House working today,” she said, adding that “at the same time, there are obvious concerns about working indoors during an outbreak.”

The sidelined reporter said she did not “want to be knocked out for the rest of the election” because of an infection. Politico reportedly substituted one of its reporters for Goba in the White House on Wednesday.

In its own blistering statement, the White House Correspondents’ Association accused the White House of not doing enough to keep reporters safe — going so far as to suggest that “all journalists” should work remotely if possible.

“The WHCA has repeatedly pressed the White House at all levels to take steps to improve the safety conditions for journalists working there — and specifically to avoid knowingly putting in unnecessary jeopardy those serving in the pool who must be present as the eyes and ears of the American public,” the statement asserted.

In response to the criticism, the White House affirmed that the president “takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people, as well as those who cover this Administration, very seriously.”

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