In a recent shift that sent ripples through the journalism community, the White House modified its requirements for obtaining hard press passes, leading to the revocation of more than 440 passes. Here’s what happened.
The New Rules
The rule changes, which came into effect in May, signaled a significant alteration in the criteria for obtaining extended access to the White House press corps, leaving many reporters uncertain and sparking debates about media access and accountability.
The Press Pass
The White House press pass holds substantial importance for journalists, granting them a special status that allows them to cover events and activities within the White House without having to undergo the day-pass application process.
More Than 400 Passes Were Reduced
However, the recent changes to these rules resulted in a substantially reduced number of credentialed White House correspondents, dropping from 1417 to 975 after the previous passes expired on July 31.
The announcement of the rule changes came through emails sent to White House press corps members, stating that all existing “press hard passes [would] expire on July 31.”
Journalist Would Have to Renew
Journalists were informed that they would need to “request renewal of [their] current hard pass” to maintain their extended access to the White House.
According to the new guidelines, reporters seeking a hard press pass renewal must meet several requirements.
Several Strict Guidelines
These include demonstrating full-time employment with an organization primarily engaged in news dissemination, maintaining a physical address within the Washington, D.C. area, and proving that they have accessed the White House campus for work purposes within the last six months.
Additionally, applicants must hold an assignment to cover or provide technical support for White House-related events and must be accredited by a press gallery in either the U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives, or Supreme Court.
Journalist Would Have to Undergo Investigation
Hard pass seekers must also be willing to undergo an investigation by the U.S. Secret Service to ascertain their eligibility for access to the White House complex.
The White House’s press office also outlined consequences for those who fail to adhere to the new guidelines, stating that passes could be revoked if journalists do not conduct themselves “in a professional manner.”
Violators would receive written warnings, followed by suspensions and even bans for repeat offenders.
While the White House justified these changes as a means of ensuring that press passes are reserved for journalists who actively engage with White House affairs and events, critics raised concerns about the potential consequences.
Critics Voiced Their Opinions
One journalist, Simon Ateba of Today News Africa, publicly voiced his skepticism about the changes.
Ateba, known for his direct interactions with White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, accused the White House Press Office of targeting him through the new requirements.
This is Crazy
He added, “It’s crazy what’s going on. How can a guy come from Africa and you have to change the rules because of him?”
The White House defended its actions, highlighting the purpose behind the changes.
A spokesperson highlighted that the alterations aimed to streamline media access and ensure that those with hard press pass actively participated in White House coverage.
A Thorough Process
The spokesperson said, “At the time we initiated this process in early May, roughly 40 percent of hard pass holders had not accessed the White House complex in the prior 90 days. We think this demonstrates we’ve led a thoughtful and thorough process that preserves robust media access to campus for everyone who needs it—whether that be with a hard pass or a day pass.”
Twitter Users Expressed Their Views
Several social media users shared their thoughts on the incident.
One Twitter user wrote, “They don’t want any more questions about Hunter and Joe’s crimes.”
This Is Authoritarian
Another user added, “Limiting the ability for journalists who are not employed with a major MSM outlet. Seems mighty authoritarian to an outsider looking in…”
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Source: Fox News