Media groups: McCarthy open to bringing back weekly reporter briefings

Greg Nash

New House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is leaving the door open to bringing back weekly informal, on-the-record sessions with reporters, but a final decision hasn’t been made.

Aides to the California Republican met Wednesday with the chairmen of the three Capitol Hill committees representing correspondents, who have called on McCarthy to revive the pen-and-pad briefings.

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“As we have stated in the past, these sessions are crucial to the media’s ability to follow the agenda of the majority party,” the committee chairmen, The Wall Street Journal’s Siobhan Hughes, Bloomberg BNA’s Heather Rothman and NBC News’ Frank Thorp, wrote in a statement.

“Majority leaders of both parties have held pen and pads over the years and House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer [D-Md.] continues to hold weekly pen and pads with the Capitol Hill press corps,” they added.

“McCarthy’s staff left the door open to holding weekly pen and pads and we are hopeful that this important and transparent form of communication will resume in the near future.”

Former Rep. Eric Cantor killed the weekly Hill tradition in November 2011, less than a year after becoming majority leader. The Virginia Republican cited a spat between news outlets after he allowed a CBS “60 Minutes” crew to film during one of the sessions, where cameras are typically banned.

A McCarthy spokesman said talks with the reporters’ groups are ongoing, but had no further comment.

The three chairmen represent the Daily Press Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents; the Periodical Gallery Standing Committee of Correspondents; and the Radio and Television Correspondents Executive Committee.