Reporters lodge complaint with White House over Biden-Johnson meeting access

Members of the White House press pool lodged a complaint with the White House after British reporters but not American reporters were recognized for questions during President Biden’s meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday afternoon.

White House Correspondents’ Association President Steve Portnoy, who served as the radio pooler on Tuesday, said that the editorial component of the pool went to White House press secretary Jen Psaki to lodge a formal complaint on Tuesday about the lack of questions granted to American reporters.

Biden and Johnson each delivered brief remarks in the Oval Office. Johnson then granted questions to two British reporters, who asked about the case of Harry Dunn, the British teen killed in a crash in the United Kingdom (U.K.) two years ago, and trade. White House aides then ushered the press out of the Oval Office without Biden calling on American reporters.

In response to a shouted question from CBS News’s Ed O’Keefe about the situation at the U.S. southern border, Biden responded in part that “violence is not justified,” but the remainder of his comments were indecipherable over shouts from White House aides trying to get reporters out of the Oval Office.

The Biden administration has withstood scrutiny after images and video circulated showing Customs and Border Protection agents on horseback chasing Haitian migrants at the border. Vice President Harris condemned the treatment in brief remarks to reporters earlier Tuesday, saying that human beings “should never be treated that way.”

Biden occasionally takes questions from reporters at the end of speeches or other public engagements, but he has not held a press conference in several weeks.

Biden and Johnson met to discuss security cooperation and other issues, following their appearance at the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) earlier in the day.

“I made clear that climate has to be the core area of action for all of us,” Biden said during brief remarks before reporters were ushered out, adding that his administration plans to attend the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference in Glasgow in November.

“We’re going to be there,” Biden said.

Biden said they planned to discuss continued cooperation on Afghanistan and in the Indo-Pacific. The U.S., the U.K. and Australia last week announced a new partnership on security in the Indo-Pacific that has prompted fury from France, America’s oldest ally.

Johnson thanked Biden for his recent decision to lift restrictions on vaccinated travelers coming to the U.S. and commended Biden’s speech at the U.N. on Tuesday morning.

“The most important thing today has been your speech, Joe, to UNGA, where you made a commitment to supporting the world to adapt to climate change, doubling the American commitment. That’s very important to us,” Johnson said. 

Tags Boris Johnson Jen Psaki Joe Biden White House Correspondents Association

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