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After spending four years insincerely complaining about then-President Donald Trump’s supposed attacks on the free press, establishment “journalists” are now learning firsthand what real attacks on the free press look and feel like.
Under the Trump administration, the White House graciously paid for the coronavirus tests that journalists must pass whenever they step into the White House.
But under the Biden administration, newsrooms will have to bear the full cost of these tests — $170/pop — starting Monday, as confirmed by The Washington Post.
“With dozens of journalists at the White House each day, the fees could add up to tens of thousands of dollars flowing from newsrooms, many of them small and cash-strapped, into government coffers,” the Post lamented.
The White House Correspondents’ Association — which, when not busy booting conservative news outlets from the White House, spent years complaining about Trump’s mean tweets — is reportedly quite displeased.
“It sets up a means test for White House coverage,” one correspondents’ association member anonymously said to the Post, adding that no other federal agency charges a fee, and that the fees would hurt small newsrooms.
The Post noted that it’d hurt big newsrooms too.
“The fees would add up quickly for larger news organizations, too. The TV networks send as many as eight people a day to the White House grounds to report, produce and operate cameras and equipment. It would cost $1,360 a day to test an eight-person crew under the White House plan,” according to the Post.
The plan, set to go in effect Monday, has triggered a firestorm of criticism on social media from everybody from The Daily Beast’s Max Tani to the Mississippi Free Press’s Ashton Pittmann.
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
— Max Tani (@maxwelltani) February 26, 2021
It’s GREAT that the president doesn’t call journalists “fake news” or “the enemy of the people.”
— Ashton Pittman (@ashtonpittman) February 26, 2021
I remember all of DC media getting up in arms when the Trump administration banned single reporters from the White House.
If this goes into effect, it would effectively ban multiple entire outlets. https://t.co/iiXuT0RZyG
— Anders Hagstrom (@Hagstrom_Anders) February 26, 2021
I have a lot of questions here but first: What kind of COVID test is the White House using these days where it costs $170 a pop??? https://t.co/aaNW7r7PKL
— Rachana D. Pradhan (@rachanadixit) February 26, 2021
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.https://t.co/sdyohbrzjs
— Tim Murtaugh (@TimMurtaugh) February 27, 2021
Imagine if Trump had done this: Biden considers $170 coronavirus test for reporters. Daily.
— Jim Stinson (@jimstinson) February 27, 2021
Some might argue that they’re simply getting what they voted for. Considering how mainstream media reacted the day that Biden was inaugurated into office, it seems fair to assume most of them voted for the man. And they did so after spending four years portraying then-President Trump as the greatest threat to press freedoms in American history, as noted by conservative commentator Ben Shapiro.
“For four years, the media complained that outgoing President Donald Trump treated them as an enemy. They self-servingly claimed that they were actually the protectors of democracy and individual rights. It took all of one month after Trump’s inauguration for The Washington Post to add the slogan ‘Democracy Dies in Darkness’ to its masthead. By October 2017, CNN began running ads explaining that it was all about ‘Facts First,'” he noted last month.
He conceded though that Trump did sometimes attack the media, albeit primarily with just mean words.
“Trump, for his part, attacked the media whether they deserved it or not: Every disparaging headline, true or not, became ‘fake news.’ That was unjustified and wrong, obviously,” Shapiro noted.
He added, however, that the media was plenty responsible itself for tarnishing its own reputation.
“But the media’s lack of credibility wasn’t solely attributable to Trump. It resulted from their own journalistic malfeasance for years on end during former President Barack Obama’s administration — ‘his only scandal was wearing a tan suit!’ — followed by their aggressive repetition of even the most thinly sourced scandal regarding Trump,” he wrote.
A month since Shapiro penned that column, the Biden administration hasn’t just forced coronavirus testing fees on journalists. It also stood aside and did barely anything after a top White House official threatened a reporter:
Psaki says week suspension for Ducklo ‘a serious punishment’ despite Biden promise to fire harassers https://t.co/xMW20q0jQA
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) February 13, 2021
‘I will destroy you’: WH deputy spox suspended after scandal breaks accusing him of intimidating… https://t.co/6uLOyDHYcQ
— Bo Snerdley (@BoSnerdley) February 13, 2021
What remains unclear is whether members of the media will ever express as much outrage toward the Biden administration as they did toward the Trump administration. The chances seem unlikely.
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