After Fox’s Peter Doocy and White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre got into an extended back-and-forth Thursday (with the latter showing her detachment from reality and reading comprehension), the New York Post’s Steven Nelson stumped her on a new administration initiative that sounds an awful like the failed Disinformation Governance Board (DGB) and restricted press access for presidential events.
This was Nelson’s first chance to question Jean-Pierre since her promotion, so he made sure it counted, beginning with the question about the innocuous-sounding Online Policy Task Force set to be led by Vice President Kamala Harris.
Nelson noted that a background call for reporters insisted “it’s going to be different from the Disinformation Governance Board in that it’s going to focus on illegal conduct online, but the memo creating it was a little bit broader” than that.
He then quoted from the memo outlining the task force’s focus as combating “online harassment, abuse, and disinformation campaigns targeting women & LGBTQI+ individuals who are public and political figures.”
Asked by Nelson whether she could “clear up the disinformation charge,” Jean-Pierre said he would need to speak with Harris’s team because she wasn’t “on that background call” and is unfamiliar with “that specific language that you’re — you’re providing to me.”
In other words, Jean-Pierre didn’t have pages of notes to read from in her binder, so no dice!
With that going nowhere, Nelson moved to the press access issue and how “for more than a year now, the White House Press Office has been having everyone in this room RSVP to presidential events in the East Room, the State Dining Room, the Executive Office Building, and then there is a process where people are selected and able to go into these presidential events where the President often takes questions.”
Nelson noted the process to decide who gets a seat has been a secret despite demands from the White House Correspondents Association, so it sure seems like “it has kind of morphed into a bit of a blacklist where certain large media outlets such as my own are almost never” selected.
Jean-Pierre was taken aback, audibly scoffing at Nelson’s use of the word “blacklist” as “a jump forward...but I’m listening.”
Nelson pushed back by reminding her he “represent[s] the fourth-largest newspaper in the country and I haven’t been selected since November” along with the fact that other journalists have been affected.
Nelson inquired about whether she could share how it’s been decided even though she’s new to the job, but here again, Jean-Pierre didn’t seem to have a minutes-long essay about it, so she said she’ll have to “look into it.”
Again dismissing his use of “blacklist” as “a very strong word,” she stated that “we try to make sure to do our best to make sure that the press gets to hear from the President directly” because “it is important for us,” “you all,” and “the American people.”
To see the relevant transcript from June 16's briefing, click “expand.”
White House press briefing [via NBC News Now Live Event]
June 16, 2022
12:59 p.m. Eastern
STEVEN NELSON: This is the first time I’ve been able to ask you questions, so I would like to ask two if that’s alright?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Lucky.
NELSON: First — first is just a clarification on the new Online Policy Task Force that was setup that the Vice President is leading and then the second one about a significant press issue that’s impacting a lot of us in this room.
NELSON: The first one on the Online Policy Task Force that the Vice President’s leading that’s getting kicked off today.
NELSON: On a background call last night, we were told that it’s going to be different from the Disinformation Governance Board in that it’s going to focus on illegal conduct online, but the memo creating it was a little bit broader and mentioned. — and I’m quoting from the document: “Online harassment, abuse, and disinformation campaigns targeting women & LGBTQI+ individuals who are public and political figures.” Could you clear up the disinformation charge?
JEAN-PIERRE: So, I would need to talk to hear team. I was not on that background call, so that specific language that you’re — you’re providing to me, I would have to just check in with her. I would also encourage you to — to check as well with her — her team. I can’t say more because I wasn’t on the background call.
NELSON: Thank you. And the press access issue — for more than a year now, the White House Press Office has been having everyone in this room RSVP to presidential events in the East Room, the State Dining Room, the Executive Office Building, and then there is a process where people are selected and able to go into these presidential events where the President often takes questions. The Correspondents Association has tried in vain to figure out how this process works and, over time, it has kind of morphed into a bit of a blacklist where certain large media outlets such as my own are almost never —
JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, a blacklist? That’s — that’s —
NELSON: Well, I mean, I — I’m just saying.
JEAN-PIERRE: — oh.
NELSON: I represent the fourth largest newspaper in the country and I haven’t been selected since November. So, could you —
JEAN-PIERRE: That’s a — that’s a jump forward to a blacklist, but I’m listening. I’m listening.
NELSON: I mean, it’s not just me. It’s certain others
JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, okay. I didn’t — I didn’t realize that. Okay.
NELSON: And so, the Correspondents Association actually wants this to be done away with. But I was hoping that you could — I know you’re new in the position —
NELSON: — but perhaps explain how —
JEAN-PIERRE: Can I look into it?
NELSON: — the selection works. Yeah.
JEAN-PIERRE: Because I actually don’t know what you’re — the process that you’re speaking of. I think blacklisting is — is a — is a very strong word to use. We have been, you know — we’ve been — we try to make sure to do our best to make sure that the press gets to hear from the President directly. It is important for us. It is important for you all, it’s important for the American people. And so that has been a priority. So let me look into this process that you’re speaking of. I — I — you know, without having all the —
NELSON: Can we commit to getting an answer to the Correspondents Association?
JEAN-PIERRE: — I — I — I spea — you’re talking about Steven — Steve Portnoy?
JEAN-PIERRE: I talk to Steve all the time. We’re talking, I believe, if not today, tomorrow. We’re checking in and we’ll have that conversation, for sure. I’m sure he’ll bring it up. And so, we’ll have that conversation.