White House reporters object to CNN preventing presidential pool from attending debate

The White House Correspondents’ Association released a statement asking CNN to allow the pool of reporters who travel with the president to nearly all events to be inside the hall where the first presidential debate between Donald Trump and Joe Biden will be taking place on Thursday evening.

Tensions around the first debate, with CNN having sole control of how things run, have skyrocketed, and it’s not just from the Trump campaign and Republicans.

‘WHCA respectfully requests that CNN adjust its plan and welcome the White House travel pool print representative to witness the debate in full.’

Kelly O’Donnell, WHCA president and senior White House correspondent for NBC News, shared the organization’s statement, which revealed the WHCA has been lobbying CNN for access inside the hall for weeks, to no avail.

“WHCA is deeply concerned that CNN has rejected our repeated requests to include the White House travel pool inside the studio. Through conversations and advocacy, we urged CNN to grant access to at least one print pool reporter for the duration of the debate. WHCA has been informed that one print reporter will be permitted to enter the studio during a commercial break to briefly observe the setting. That is not sufficient in our view and diminishes a core principle of presidential coverage,” the statement said.

“The White House pool has a duty to document, report and witness the president’s events and his movements on behalf of the American people,” the statement continued. “The pool is there for the ‘what ifs?’ in a world where the unexpected does happen. A pool reporter is present to provide context and insight by direct observation and not through the lens of the television production. A pool reporter is an independent observer whose duties are separate from the production of the debate as a news event.”

Neither the Biden campaign nor the Trump campaign has objected to the pool being allowed inside. As the reporters are screened by Secret Service, there should be no concerns about security, the WHCA said.

“WHCA respectfully requests that CNN adjust its plan and welcome the White House travel pool print representative to witness the debate in full for the sake of the news cycle, for history and mostly importantly for the American people,” the statement concluded.

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