White House bans CNN reporter from press event for asking questions

“We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”

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In retaliation for embarrassing President Donald Trump during a meeting with the president of the European Commission on Wednesday, the White House banned a CNN reporter from another press event with both presidents later that day. In an act of solidarity, other members of the White House press corps, including Fox News, have voiced their support for CNN’s correspondent.

During a meeting between Trump and Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins waited after both men made their remarks before asking Trump, “Mr. President, did Michael Cohen betray you?”

As Trump ignored her questions, Collins continued asking, “Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say to prosecutors? Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President? Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?”

During an interview with Wolf Blitzer later in the day, Collins explained that afterwards White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders banned her from attending another press event with Trump and Juncker in the Rose Garden. Named in at least four lawsuits or allegations related to alleged sexual harassment or racial discrimination while previously working at Fox News, Shine has also been accused of protecting sexual predators at the network for years before accepting a position within the White House.

“They said, ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,’” Collins told Blitzer. “They said that the questions I asked were inappropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”

In a statement issued on Wednesday, CNN wrote, “Today, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins was denied access to cover an open-press event at The White House. After posing questions to President Trump earlier in the day as the network pool reporter, Collins was told by White House deputy chief of staff for communications Bill Shine and press secretary Sarah Sanders that her questions were ‘inappropriate.’ They were not. Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of day doesn’t mean the question isn’t relevant and shouldn’t be asked. This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better.”

In a statement of solidarity, Chief White House Correspondent for The New York Times Peter Baker tweeted, “In statement, White House @PressSec acknowledges barring CNN reporter @kaitlancollins because she ‘shouted questions and refused to leave’ Oval Office at end of pool spray. If that’s the standard, they will have to bar every member of the press pool since that’s what all of us do.”

White House Bureau Chief at The Washington Post Philip Rucker also took to Twitter on Wednesday and wrote, “What @kaitlancollins did today – ask the president questions – is what every reputable journalist must do. That is our job. We do it just about every day, and most days Trump answers. Today, he decided to retaliate by barring Kaitlan from his press event.”

Even Fox News President Jay Wallace said in a statement on Wednesday, “We stand in strong solidarity with CNN for the right to full access for our journalists as part of a free and unfettered press.”

In addition, Fox News anchor Bret Baier tweeted, “As a member of the White House Press pool- @FoxNews stands firmly with @CNN on this issue and the issue of access.”

On Wednesday, White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA) President Olivier Knox issued the following statement: “We strongly condemn the White House’s misguided and inappropriate decision today to bar one of our members from an open press event after she asked questions they did not like. 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. In our republic, the WHCA supports the prerogative of all reporters to do their jobs without fear of reprisal from the government.”

On Wednesday, Collins took to Twitter and pointed out that National Security Adviser John Bolton answered one of her questions during the press pool. She tweeted, “This after Trump didn’t answer my questions on why Putin hadn’t accepted his invitation to visit this fall yet.”

According to Bolton, Trump believes his next meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin should take place at the beginning of next year “after the Russia witch hunt is over.”

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