White House journalists are finally, finally taking a stand against the Orange toddler as his treatment of the press as "enemies of the people" becomes full-on treatment of them as actual enemies of the state.
Later on Friday, CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins received a strange request from a White House official, one that she subsequently detailed on Twitter:
Tonight the White House tried to have me, and only me, swap seats with another reporter several rows back. We both refused to move from our seats that were assigned well in advance. The briefing was short, the president took no questions and it proceeded as planned.— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) April 24, 2020
A more detailed report came from Washington Blade Chief Political & White House Reporter Chris Johnson, who filed this pool report on the incident:Earlier today before the briefing, a White House official instructed the print pooler to take CNN’s seat in the briefing room because the seating would be swapped for the briefing. Given the seating assignment is under the jurisdiction of the White House Correspondents’ Association, not the White House, pooler refused to move.
The White House official then informed the print pooler swapping wasn’t an option and the Secret Service was involved. Again, pooler refused to move, citing guidance from the WHCA. The briefing proceeded with both CNN and print pooler sitting in their respective assigned seats.
Secret Service, huh? Let’s pause for a moment on that one. The U.S. Secret Service protects top U.S. leaders as well as visiting foreign dignitaries, such as the pope. “Using advanced countermeasures, the Secret Service executes security operations that deter, minimize and decisively respond to identified threats and vulnerabilities," its website says.
Where does the assignment of seats in the White House briefing room fit into that scheme? It appears not to, according to Jonathan Karl, president of the White House Correspondents’ Association (WHCA). In an email sent to Johnson on Friday evening, Karl wrote, “The Secret Service tells the WHCA they were not involved whatsoever in this effort by the WH to change seating assignments.”
A Secret Service representative emailed the Erik Wemple Blog this statement: “The U.S. Secret Service was not involved in this matter.”
So it seems that the White House was so intent on Collins’s positional demotion as to invoke the Secret Service for the purposes of intimidation. Collins and Johnson were wise to stand their ground.
What's this? Jon Karl and the WHCA finally developing a spine after Trump tries to banish CNN to the back of the room and invokes the USSS to intimidate a young woman reporter?
Our White House press betters are finally catching on that Trump isn't playing around and never was. He will put reporters in jail or worse if he believes for a moment that it will save his re-election, and the closer to November we get, the more obvious this will become.
The time to stand up to Trump manipulating the WHCA was three years ago, but what is past is past. If there's a future for journalism in this country, it starts with holding Trump accountable and going to the mat to defend their own people.
We're finally starting to see that.
The Erik Wemple Blog has asked the White House who hatched the idea to suddenly attack Collins’s front-row perch in the briefing room. It’s not clear, though we do know this: It’s a petty, personal act that was hastily and mendaciously executed. What happened here was nothing short of an abject attempt to professionally humiliate a young, female journalist. Sure, Trump has targeted men plenty of times in the briefing room and elsewhere. But hear the words of CNN Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash earlier this month: “As a woman who covered the White House, as a woman who covers politics and policy in Washington, we have to just say, the way he treats the female reporters is just different.”
If even Wemple gets it (and let's not forget Wemple spent months trying to debunk the Mueller Report over the last three months only to run headlong into last week's Senate Intelligence Committee report, and he's silent on it) then Trump is in real trouble.