White House moves to restrict press access: Report

March 29, 2023

The Biden White House is moving to crack down on opposition journalism by restricting access for reporters outside of the corporate media.

The changes would make it harder for journalists to get "hard passes" that allow convenient access to the White House for daily briefings, the Daily Beast reported.

The new rules would likely impact freelancers and independent journalists who are more likely to scrutinize the administration in their reporting.

Biden cracks down

To get a "hard pass", journalists have to go through a Secret Service background check. Journalists can also get temporary passes, but they're only good for one day.

Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wants the White House to return to Obama's rules, which restricted hard passes to reporters with the credentials to cover the Supreme Court or Congress. Typically, that means having a regular beat in Washington and working for a "reputable" outlet.

The changes were reportedly spurred by Simon Ateba, an outspoken African reporter who is known for disrupting the gentle, play pen atmosphere in the Biden briefing room.

Reporters for major, corporate outlets favorable to Biden (with the notable exception of Fox) sit toward the front of the briefing room and generally receive more opportunities to ask questions, leaving little time for opposition journalists to get a word in.

Playing favorites

Ateba hasn't been quiet about the favoritism at play, leading to a number of scenes with Jean-Pierre.

After Ateba's latest protest last week, Zeke Miller of the AP (which by tradition receives the first question) gave an obsequious apology to Jean-Pierre on behalf of the press corp.

Biden pledged to be "transparent" with the American people, but the 80-year-old president rarely gives press conferences, speaking mostly through his staff and surrogates in the mainstream media, like Miller.

Biden's "transparency" pledge

The Biden approach is a stark contrast with that of his predecessor, who was known to engage extemporaneously with the "fake news" despite being characterized as inaccessible to the media.

Unlike President Trump, Biden has yet to receive a cognitive test from his White House doctor, who described him as "vigorous" and "fit," a description that has prompted some mockery.

Biden's staff routinely "pre-screen" reporters who cover major events, and the White House has solicited Big Tech on various occasions to censor dissenting viewpoints under the pretext of controlling "misinformation."

At the same time, Biden regularly claims to speak for what he calls "our democracy" against authoritarians at home and abroad.

" A free people [claim] their rights, as derived from the laws of nature."
Thomas Jefferson
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