“It is unacceptable that a reporter was barred from attending a White House event as a punitive measure for asking questions of public interest,” said Margaux Ewen, Director of RSF’s North America bureau. “Denying a pool reporter access to an open-press event is denying the American people their right to know, and it has grim implications for the state of press freedom in a nation that enshrines this right in its Constitution.”
The White House barred CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins from attending a Rose Garden event on July 25 because she had asked “inappropriate” questions at an earlier Oval Office photo-op. Collins, who was in the room during a meeting between President Donald Trump and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker as the “pool reporter” representing all the television networks, slung questions at President Trump, specifically about his former attorney Michael Cohen and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House Correspondents’ Association immediately put out a statement defending Collins, saying: "This type of retaliation is wholly inappropriate, wrong-headed, and weak. It cannot stand. Reporters asking questions of powerful government officials, up to and including the President, helps hold those people accountable."
This is not the first time the White House has attempted to bar reporters from its events. In May 2017 American journalists were barred from attending a meeting between President Trump and top Russian officials at the White House, and earlier that year CNN and a handful of other news outlets were blocked from attending an off-camera White House briefing.
The United States ranks 45th out of 180 countries in RSF's 2018 World Press Freedom Index after falling 2 places in the last year.
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