It is not the job of the White House Correspondents' Association (WHCA) to defend the president, despite a request from the Trump administration to do just that, WHCA President Jeff Mason told CNN’s “Reliable Sources” on Sunday.
Mason gave more details of an incident he mentioned earlier, explaining “It was regarding a story that had been written about the press, and the White House called, was upset about that story and asked me, on behalf of the correspondents' association, to release a statement essentially defending the White House. And that would have been, in my view, the same really as criticizing the reporter and criticizing the story. And I said no. That’s just not something that we do. That’s not a role that we play.”
The story was written by Politico reporter Tara Palmeri, who told CNN that she had heard from her editor that the Trump administration had threatened to try and remove her from the WHCA, which they do not have the power to do, since it is an independent organization.
Mason also talked about the WHCA’s fight against the White House’s banning of cameras from briefings off and on for weeks, saying the lack of transparency has become a "very important" issue and that, "the trend is not going in a direction that we want."
The WHCA president stressed that "We are an organization that represents television reporters, as well as print reporter, radio reporters, online reporters, we have a lot of interests that we have to represent."
Mason's term as WHCA present is ending in the coming weeks, but he expressed confidence that his successor, Margaret Talev of Bloomberg, will continue to push for more transparency from the White House.
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