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Biden admin issues new rules for journalists who don’t ‘act in a professional manner’

A woman writing in a notebook. (Unsplash)
May 08, 2023

President Joe Biden’s administration recently announced new rules for journalists who attend press conferences and presidential events, warning that journalists must “act in a professional manner” while at the White House. The move comes after some reporters criticized press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre for only allowing certain journalists to ask questions.

Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa, Simon Ateba, tweeted a lengthy letter the press received on Friday, which warned that violating the new rules may lead to suspension or revocation of White House press hard passes.

To receive a White House press hard pass, the new rules state that journalists must submit a letter “written on the official letterhead of your news organization” that shows they meet a number of requirements, including “full-time employment with an organization whose principal business is news dissemination.”

Freelancers must submit letters from “two news organizations describing your affiliation, or, if you freelance primarily for one organization, a letter from that organization describing the extent and duration of your relationship with the organization.”

Journalists must also prove they have a “physical address (either residential or professional) in the greater Washington, D.C. area,” and “accreditation by a press gallery in either the Supreme Court, U.S. Senate or U.S. House of Representatives.”

They must also be willing to submit to “any necessary investigation by the U.S. Secret Service to determine eligibility for access to the White House complex, where Secret Service will determine eligibility based on whether the applicant presents a potential risk to the safety or security of the President, the Vice President, or the White House complex.”

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“The White House expects that all hard pass holders will act in a professional manner while on White House grounds by respecting their colleagues, White House employees, and guests; observing stated restrictions on access to areas of the White House or credentialed events; and not impeding events or briefings on campus. Absent security concerns involving the United States Secret Service or other exigent circumstances, the White House will provide a written warning to you if your conduct violates these expectations. Subsequent violations may lead to the suspension or revocation of your hard pass, following notice and an opportunity to respond,” the letter states.

All hard passes that have already been issued will expire July 31.

Ateba claimed the new rules were issued because he called out Jean-Pierre for not allowing him to ask a question during press briefings for months.

“BREAKING: The @WhiteHouse is changing the rules for press hard passes to target me. But I qualify for all those things as we just filed our taxes, are registered with the District of Columbia and have our address in DC,” he tweeted. “I studied journalism in college, received two degrees, have only worked as a journalist and trained countless people. I also attend briefings religiously and do not have a second job. It’s crazy what’s going on. How can a guy come from Africa and you have to change the rules because of him?”

A White House official told the New York Post that the administration has been working on the new rules “for more than a year” and is the result of “feedback of journalists covering the White House.”  

“As we return to these prior criteria, which help ensure hard passes are in the hands of reporters who need regular access to campus as part of their duties, we are providing a nearly 3-month window for reporters to turn in their applications and reach out with any questions. The criteria will apply evenly to everyone,” the official said, according to the Post.