Reporters Stand Ground After White House Tried to Move CNN to Back Row in Briefing Room


Shortly before the start of Friday’s coronavirus task force briefing, the White House tried to move a CNN reporter from their assigned seat in the front row to the rear of the Brady Briefing Room, prompting a revolt by reporters who made the administration back down.

CNN’s Kaitlan Collins was told to swap seats with print pooler Chris Johnson with the Washington Blade. The White House Correspondents’ Association assigns seats and access to reporters. Over the years, the Trump administration has tried to assert control over who attends the briefings with mixed results. Most recently, the administration intervened to bring OANN reporter Chanel Rion to stand in the back of the room after the WHCA tried to bar her from the room.

Tweets from reporters:

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OANN’s Alex Salvi: “NEW: The White House has told the print pooler to switch seats with CNN in the press briefing room–moving the network to the back row.”

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Yahoo News’ Hunter Walker: “White House staff just came into the briefing room and informed the print pooler that they want them to swap seats w CNN. That would move CNN to the back row from the front. @whca made these seat assignments not staff…Pooler @chrisjohnson82 said he would not move unless he heard from the @whca. WH staffer threatened to have Secret Service enforce the swap. WHCA board members ran back into the press office to discuss…I am not going to participate in a briefing if the White House moves reporters from their assigned seats.”

Reporters won this battle:

“We just got word the briefing will begin in one minute. Reporters were not moved. Shout out to
@chrisjohnson82 @kaitlancollins and the @whca for standing their ground.”

President ended today’s briefing without taking any questions.

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