Potential 'Mutinying?': White House Press Corps Fume Over Biden Administration's 'Extra Control' Over Media Coverage
The White House Press Corps is frustrated with the Biden administration's requirement that all quotes used in press pieces receive approval before
The White House Press Corps is frustrated with the Biden administration’s requirement that all quotes used in press pieces receive approval before publication.
According to POLITICO, the White House communications team must have the “opportunity to edit” what administration officials say in quotes used in a story. It’s a term that’s been dubbed “background with quote approval,” something that at least five reporters from various outlets, outside of POLITICO, confirmed to be the case.
“In practice, that means the information from an interview can be used in the story, but in order for the person’s name to be attached to a quote, the reporter must transcribe the quotes they want and then send them to the communications team to approve, veto or edit them,” the outlet explained.
The practice reportedly took place under the Obama and Trump administrations, although “Trump’s team did so less frequently than Biden’s team.” It’s a practice that has left the White House Press Corps fuming.
“The rule treats them like coddled Capitol Hill pages and that’s not who they are or the protections they deserve,” one reporter told POLITICO. “The only way the press has the power to push back against this is if we all band together.”
“Have any reporters talked about mutinying?” another reporter told the outlet. “If you start fomenting an insurrection, keep me updated.”
Outlets such as the Associated Press and The New York Times said they have pushed back on the use of quote approval. The goal behind conducting interviews on background, according to multiple outlets, is to eventually “negotiate” using some of the quotes on the record.
It’s absolutely unconscionable that the White House or any other political figure would say they have to have a direct say in what’s written or how it’s written. The goal of the media is to be a watchdog for the American people. When things like quote approval take place, confidence in the media – although it’s already low – plummet even further.
Giving the subject a say in what’s covered or how it’s covered takes away the independence that reporters are supposed to have. It not only blurs the lines between government officials and news outlets but can also construe an administration’s take as facts. The watchdog function goes out the window and the media becomes nothing more than a propaganda arm for whoever they are working with.
We need to move away from background interviews and the continual use of “anonymous sources.” There are times when rather big stories rely on anonymous sources and they later turn out to be completely false. It happened as recently as March when news outlets were forced to issue corrections based on initial reports by CNN and The Washington Post that claimed Trump urged Georgia Secretary of State’s office to “find the fraud” in the 2020 election. Audio recordings proved the claim false.