News outlets decline to send staff to travel with Trump over lack of coronavirus precautions
Several major media organizations have declined to allow reporters to travel with President Trump aboard Air Force One to campaign events in recent days due to concerns about a lack of COVID-19 protocols observed by White House staff.
The New York Times reported Monday that The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post had joined the Times in declining to send reporters with the president in recent days, forcing the White House Correspondents’ Association to seek other journalists for White House press pool duties during those times.
Other outlets that have avoided press pool duty in recent days include BuzzFeed News, Politico and Hearst Newspapers, according to the Times.
“White House reporters had safety concerns and were not comfortable traveling with the president at this time,” said Elisabeth Bumiller, Washington bureau chief for the Times.
Reporters at the media outlets cited the failure by flight attendants, Secret Service agents and White House staffers to wear masks aboard the plane as a main reason for concern. Staffers have also been accused of returning to work before the end of two-week quarantine periods following infection or possible exposure to the coronavirus.
“The President takes the health and safety of himself and everyone who works in support of him and the American people, as well as those who cover this Administration, very seriously,” said White House spokesperson Judd Deere in an email to The Hill.
“White House Operations collaborates with the Physician to the President and the White House Military Office to ensure all plans and procedures incorporate current CDC guidance and best practices for limiting COVID-19 exposure to the greatest extent possible when the President is traveling,” Deere continued. “The White House Press Office and the White House Correspondents Association have also been in regular discussions to ensure that all those traveling in the protective pool feel safe to do so.”
Trump himself recently returned to the White House after a three-day hospitalization due to contracting COVID-19 and has been seen entering the White House and boarding Air Force One without a mask.
The president claimed on Twitter on Sunday morning that he is now “immune” from the virus, prompting Twitter to tag the tweet as misleading.
Updated at 9:55 a.m. on 10/13 with a response from the White House.