According to The Daily Beast, President Biden’s communications team has asked reporters what questions they plan to ask White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at press briefings.
The Daily Beast referenced “three sources with knowledge of the matter, as well as written communications reviewed by The Daily Beast” who intimated that the Biden communications had made the approaches to the reporters.
“One reporter raised the issue during an informal White House Correspondents Association Zoom call last Friday. According to multiple sources, leaders at the meeting advised print reporters to push back against requests by the White House press team to learn of questions in advance, or simply to not respond to the Biden team’s inquiries,” The Daily Beast asserted.
One source told The Daily Beast, which reportedly had some of its staffers on the Zoom call, “It pissed off enough reporters for people to flag it for the [WHCA] for them to deal with it.”
“Those staffers had no input into this story whatsoever,” The Daily Beast wrote, adding, “The reporter who wrote this story was not bound by the terms of the call’s agreement. All of the information in this article was independently gathered, and without his colleagues’ knowledge. … Biden’s press team did not deny that staffers had solicited questions from reporters.”
The Daily Beast quoted a White House spokesperson who stated, “Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public. Part of meeting that objective means regularly engaging with the reporters who will be in the briefing room to understand how the White House can be most helpful in getting them the information they need. That two-way conversation is an important part of keeping the American people updated about how government is serving them.”
Eric Schultz, a former deputy press secretary in the Obama White House, protested that the Biden team’s approach was normal, saying, “This is textbook communications work. The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions, instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on. In a non-covid environment, this would happen in casual conversations throughout the day in lower and upper press. One of the few upsides to reporters hovering over your desk all day, is that you get a very quick sense of what they’re working on.”
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, apparently stung by criticism that she had evaded answering certain questions in the past by stating she would “circle back” with an answer at a later date, targeted “conservative Twitter.”
“And last thing I want to do before I get to your questions: I often note I am going to circle back,” said Psaki. “I hate to disappoint conservative Twitter, but I am going to circle back on a number of things, as we often do directly.”
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