Biden’s press office asked journalists to send questions in advance, and they say it’s undermining his promise to respect a free press


Out of the Business Insider, Ashley Collman picked up an issue that reporters are facing with the new White House Press Office.  It seems that Press Secretary Jen Psaki is requesting the questions for the Press Briefings beforehand. 

In a visit to America in the late 1950’s, Russian Premier Nikita Khrushchev asked the White House Press Secretary James Hagerty, “what are you going to tell the press to say about my visit and tour of America?”  Hagerty replied, “I’m not going to tell them to say anything…that’s up to them.”  Khrushchev was surprised not believing that the press secretary of the President (Ike) of the United States had no power over the press. 

Is the Biden Administration requesting the questions beforehand so they can be better prepared during these Q&A’s?  Or, are the on-board reporters going to ask soft-lob questions like what ice cream is the President eating today (as seen in earlier conferences)?  Here’s the report:

  • Reporters recently complained about White House press staff asking for questions ahead of time.
  • Doing so would give the appearance reporters are working with the administration.
  • The White House didn’t deny the allegation, and said it was a normal part of running a press office.
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On her first day in office, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki pledged to bring “truth and transparency back to the briefing room,” saying she has a “deep respect for the role of a free and independent press.”

But less than two weeks into President Joe Biden’s administration, reporters are raising concerns about White House press office staffers trying to get them to give advance notice on what questions they play to ask at briefings, The Daily Beast reported.

The issue with asking journalists for their questions ahead of time is that it could give the impression that the media is working in conjunction with the Biden administration, allowing officials time to craft good answers.

For years, the media has been accused of being too left-leaning, and not being critical enough of Democratic administrations. A recent Fox News report claimed that reporters’ questions were too easy during Psaki’s first press briefing, comparing them to briefings during former President Donald Trump’s administration, when White House press secretaries rarely held briefings and often refused to take questions.

According to The Daily Beast, reporters brought up the issue of Psaki’s team’s trying to coax their questions out of them ahead of time at a White House Correspondent’s Association Zoom call last Friday.

Multiple sources told The Daily Beast that WHCA leaders advised reporters to push back or not respond to such requests.

“While it’s a relief to see briefings return, particularly with a commitment to factual information, the press can’t really do its job in the briefing room if the White House is picking and choosing the questions they want,” one unnamed White House correspondent told The Daily Beast.

“That’s not really a free press at all.”

  • 02/02/2021
  • Ashley Collman