The White House plans to roll out a new policy starting Monday that would charge journalists $170 to take a COVID-19 test every time they enter the grounds, and reporters in the press corps and beyond are not happy about it.
What are the details?
The Washington Post revealed the plan, reporting that the Biden administration is getting pushback from media outlets large and small who are unhappy about being asked to pay the government what could amount to tens of thousands of dollars for the privilege of doing their jobs.
But the Biden administration says the tests are just too expensive for the White House to keep paying.
The outlet pointed out:
Until now, the cost of testing has been borne by the White House. But officials there contend that the cost of maintaining the testing regime for nearly a year has strained its budget. So it wants to shift the burden onto news organizations: No test, no entry to the White House.
Reporters from across the country also expressed their frustrations and dismay over the new policy on social media.
Max Tani of The Daily Beast tweeted, “I think part of ‘bringing truth and transparency back to the briefing room’ is not making it prohibitively expensive for smaller outlets with tight budgets to go to the White House.”
Mississippi Free Press reporter Ashton Pittman criticized the Biden administration for what he believed was two bad decisions in the same day, writing, “It’s GREAT that the president doesn’t call journalists ‘fake news’ or ‘the enemy of the people.’ But between apparently deciding to let MBS off the hook for murder and now trying to make journalists pay $170 per visit to the @WhiteHouse? This is madness.”
Pittman argued further, “Not all outlets can afford that, but on principle it’s antithetical to the free press-public servant relationship to make journalists pay for access.” He added, “We need transparency, not admission fees.”
Some Twitter users hailed the White House’s decision, expressing hope that smaller outlets — namely conservative outlets OANN and Newsmax — might be priced out of attending press briefings under the new policy.
Tim Murtaugh, the former communications director for President Donald Trump’s 2020 campaign, explained, “Put another way: A small news outlet with one White House reporter, paying $170 for each virus test, would pay:
That’s a lot for the privilege of covering Biden. Only bigger outlets could swing it.”