Reporters for CBS News and other outlets were sent scrambling Monday morning after an aggressive raccoon began attacking news crews outside the White House.
CBS News’ Paula Reid was the first to break the news of the attack, which targeted one photographer and one correspondent.
“Strong Pawnee vibes at White House this morning as a raccoon attacked multiple news crews on North Lawn,” Reid noted, referencing the fictional Indiana town central to the comedy series, “Parks & Recreation. “🦝 allegedly grabbed pant leg of a photographer & then a corespondent (sic) before being fended off.”
Although all victims survived the attack, the White House is reportedly taking measures to keep the raccoons at bay from now on.
“UPDATE: Sources tell @CBSNews,” Reid continued later, “White House reaching out to @USGSA about aggressive 🦝 who allegedly attacked crews this AM.”
The USGSA is the U.S. General Services Administration, which handles property-related concerns for government buildings, including the White House.
Raccoons are not, apparently, an unusual presence at White House press calls — and Monday’s incident isn’t even the first of its kind. According to the Daily Beast, raccoons are a systemic problem on the White House grounds, and at least one reporter was attacked in 2017.
“The White House was invaded this morning by unwelcomed guests: a group of raccoons that evaded capture by the National Park Service,” the outlet reported in April of that year. “‘The idea of raccoons on the White House grounds give us great pause,’ spokesman Bill Burton said. The Washington Post reports that ‘one very large raccoon and several medium-sized raccoons’ were seen on the grounds and have managed to avoid the ‘live traps’ (with apples, cat food, and peanut butter) set up to nab the animals.”
Social media, though, was quick to seize on this incident, with critics of the press asking whether President Donald Trump, who has a notoriously combative relationship with the media, trained the raccoons to do his bidding.
“We need a distraction!” one of the president’s detractors imagined the president saying. “We’ve used up all of our distractions. [low, ominous] Release the raccoons.”
White House communications specialist Alyssa Farah took the side of the raccoons, suggesting that the creatures be added to the reporter pool: “Starting a petition to add the WH raccoons to the pool rotation,” she tweeted.
“I did not have ‘Raccoons defend White House against the Enemy of the People’ on my 2020 bingo card. I don’t mind it, though,” added one Twitter Trump supporter.
Even The Hill — one of the few outlets to initially report on the raccoon incident — got in on the fun.
“The Hill has reached out to the National Park Service and the General Services Administration for comment on the raccoon incident. The raccoons could not be reached for comment,” the outlet reported late Monday. “No evidence has emerged to suggest the raccoons were politically motivated.”