WH Accused of Dodging Questions By Asking Media to Submit Questions Before Briefings
'Not really a free press'
Joe Biden's administration is seemingly taking measures to avoid being caught off guard by asking reporters to submit questions before its press briefings.
The Daily Beast reported Biden's communications department asked a member of the media to submit their questions in advance of Jen Psaki's daily briefings.
The White House has since been accused of trying to avoid difficult questions.
The issue was discussed during a White House Correspondents Association meeting last Friday.
Reporters fear the move plays into the perception of coordination between the West Wing and media.
"That's not really a free press at all," one White House reporter said.
"While it's a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can't really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want," the reporter added.
WHCA leaders instructed to reporters to either "push back," or not comply altogether.
Last year, the Trump administration discarded the White House press briefings almost completely.
The Biden administration argued that asking reporters for their questions was not trying to dodge questions but understand the pulse of reporting on any given day.
"Our goal is to make the daily briefing as useful and informative as possible for both reporters and the public," a spokesperson told the Daily Beast.
"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 the government is serving them."
Meanwhile, Eric Schultz claimed the Biden communication team's request was normal and allowed staff to prepare.
"This is textbook communications work," Schultz said.
"The briefing becomes meaningless if the press secretary has to repeatedly punt questions instead of coming equipped to discuss what journalists are reporting on," Schultz told the Daily Beast.
"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."