Today, a reporter named Kaitlan Collins asked President Donald Trump a question about Vladimir Putin and Michael Cohen in the Rose Garden. This is not out of the ordinary. Sometimes, the President responds. Other times, he does not. Today’s event was held with Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission.
“They said ‘You are dis-invited from the press availability in the Rose Garden today,'” Collins said. “They said that the questions I asked were inappbropriate for that venue. And they said I was shouting.”
A video clip of the exchange shows that Collins was speaking the same way journalists in the press pool usually speak.
Collins said she reacted by saying, “You’re banning me from an event because you didn’t like the questions I asked.”
Collins said Shine and Sanders asserted that “we’re not banning your network. Your photographers can still come. Your producers can still come. But you are not invited to the Rose Garden today.”
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the matter.
In a statement, CNN disputed the White House’s assertion that Collins’ questions were inappropriate.
“Just because the White House is uncomfortable with a question regarding the news of day doesn’t mean the question isn’t relevant and shouldn’t be asked,” the network said. “This decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better.”
What Collins described — telling a well-known and well-respected reporter that she can’t attend a presidential event — is another serious escalation against the press by the Trump administration.
Reporters from the major networks take turns as the TV “pool reporter.” Wednesday happened to be CNN’s day.
On some days, there’s only one opportunity to ask the president questions.
So Collins felt she should ask about two of Wednesday’s biggest stories when journalists were let inside the Oval Office for a portion of Trump and Juncker’s meeting.
So what did she ask that demanded such a strong reaction?
First, she asked, “Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?”
Then, when he didn’t answer, she repeated that same question.
Afterwards, she asked, “Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is about to say to the prosecutors? Are you worried about what is on the other tapes, Mr. President?”
Lastly, she asked, “Why is Vladimir Putin not accepting your invitation, Mr. President?”
Though Trump didn’t answer, he did say, “Thank you very much, everybody.”
No one thought there was anything unusual about the interactions, which is why Collins was surprised at the follow up. In the meeting, Collins told Shine and Sanders, “I’m from Alabama. I’m not rude. I believe you should always be polite when you ask a question. I totally believe that.”
Apparently, this White House doesn’t believe in the First Amendment.
Hat Tip: CNN