ABC's Karl rips White House for 'flagrant violation' of social distancing in Rose Garden

Jonathan Karl of ABC News slammed the White House for positioning reporters closer together than usual for President TrumpDonald TrumpChinese apps could face subpoenas, bans under Biden executive order: report Kim says North Korea needs to be 'prepared' for 'confrontation' with US Ex-Colorado GOP chair accused of stealing more than 0K from pro-Trump PAC MORE's remarks in the Rose Garden on Friday, calling the move "a flagrant violation" of government guidelines for social distancing.

Karl, who is also head of the White House Correspondents' Association, said the White House did not place the press pool chairs far enough apart to comply with coronavirus guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The longtime White House correspondent also accused the Trump administration of using reporters as props at the event, where Trump did not take questions from the press.


"This is a flagrant violation of CDC guidelines on social distancing and a move that puts reporters at risk for the purpose of turning the press corps into a prop for a so-called 'press conference' where the president refuses to answer a single question," Karl tweeted.

Karl later shared a statement from the White House Correspondents' Association saying that the chairs at the event "were initially positioned in a way that was consistent with social distancing guidelines but were moved closer together by White House staff shortly before the event started."

"When we asked for an explanation, the White House press office told us the decision to move the chairs closer together was made because 'It looks better,'" the statement continued, before blasting the move.


"The health of the press corps should not be put in jeopardy because the White House wants reporters to be a prop for a 'news conference' where the president refused to answer any questions," it added.

White House deputy press secretary Judd DeereJudd DeereHere's how presidents move into the White House in just hours on Inauguration Day Pence's relationship with Trump fractures in final days Trump stares down new impeachment threat MORE confirmed that the decision was made because "it looks better" but pushed back on the criticism, noting that members of the press are tested before each event.

"It was my decision. It looks better," Deere said in a statement to The Hill. "Those in the pool are tested, everyone is temperature checked, and asked if they have had symptoms."

Karl has previously tweeted about adhering to CDC guidelines at White House events, at one point causing a stir with a photo of fellow journalists.

The president didn't take any questions at Friday's event, even though the White House beforehand said it would be a news conference. Trump's remarks focused in large part on the stunning May employment report from the Labor Department that showed U.S. employers added 2.5 million jobs and the unemployment rate dipped to 13.3 percent.

The unexpectedly positive figures sent stocks soaring on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaching its highest level since October.

Updated: 3 p.m.