Journalists criticize White House’s lack of transparency on Trump’s health and whereabouts

Then, some two hours later, the president rolled by the facility during an impromptu drive to thank his supporters, who have been camped outside the medical center in Bethesda, Md.

Axios reporter Alayna Treene, who was the press representative, said there was no heads-up. “The pool was not informed of this ahead of time, and we have not been called back to the White House or Walter Reed,” she said in a dispatch shortly afterward. (Deputy White House press secretary Judd Deere called it “a short, last-minute motorcade ride.”)

The episode was indicative of the disconnect between the Trump administration and a press corps eager for accurate and timely information about the president’s condition.

Associated Press White House reporter Zeke Miller, the president of the White House Correspondents’ Association, sent a strongly worded statement to The Washington Post taking the administration to task. “It is outrageous for the president to have left the hospital — even briefly — amid a health crisis without a protective pool present to ensure that the American people know where their president is and how he is doing,” he said. “Now more than ever, the American public deserves independent coverage of the president so they can be reliably informed about his health.”

On CNN on Sunday night, White House correspondent Jeremy Diamond said “there was no warning, there was no notice from the White House that the president was about to do this.”

It was not the first frustration of the day for the journalists covering the president’s condition.

Just before noon, White House physician Sean Conley addressed journalists in a news conference, during which he shared some information about the president’s condition — and need for supplemental oxygen — though he declined to answer other questions, including one about whether the president is being treated in a negative-pressure room.

CNN’s Jake Tapper was apparently not pleased with Conley’s response. “Excuse me?” he said on the air. “You’re ‘not going to get into the specifics of his care?’”

After Conley said that he wanted to “reflect [an] upbeat attitude” during his news briefing on Saturday, explaining the discrepancy between his rosy assessment and a more dour prognosis that was initially provided anonymously before being attributed to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Tapper said, “I don’t need ‘upbeat attitude’ as an American citizen. I need to know the facts about how the president is doing.”

Sanjay Gupta, CNN’s chief medical correspondent, said Conley was “dancing around really important questions.”

Later in the broadcast, the network’s chief political correspondent, Dana Bash, took things one step further. “We don’t need a medical briefing from a Baghdad Bob,” she said, drawing a comparison to Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, who provided daily, propagandistic news briefings on behalf of Saddam Hussein’s government during the Iraq War.

“He had the facts,” Fox News correspondent Trace Gallagher said on the network. “He just chose not to share them.”

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Journalists who work at the White House are testing positive for Covid-19

A widening coronavirus outbreak at the White House has left members of the media scrambling to find out if they, too, are infected.

a display in a store: The White House's Brady press briefing room is almost empty, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Washington. President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

© Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP
The White House’s Brady press briefing room is almost empty, Friday, Oct. 2, 2020, in Washington. President Donald Trump said early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump have tested positive for the coronavirus, a stunning announcement that plunges the country deeper into uncertainty just a month before the presidential election. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Three journalists who work at the White House tested positive on Friday, according to a series of memos from the White House Correspondents Association.

A White House staffer who sits in the “lower press” area of the West Wing also received a confirmed positive result on Friday morning.

Reporters and White House spokespeople work together in cramped quarters, often meeting the definition of close contact.

So there is now widespread concern among White House reporters about who was exposed.

Friday’s first memo, obtained by CNN Business, said members of the press corps were being notified “so that you can make informed judgements.”

The late morning memo said that “all other journalists tested today tested negative.”

A followup message at 1:33 p.m. carried word of another case of a sick journalist.

Video: NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools (CNN)

NYT: WH pressured CDC to downplay risks of reopening schools



“We are writing to let you know that another member of our press corps tested positive today for COVID-19,” the memo said. “This individual was last at the White House on Saturday and subsequently traveled on Air Force One to Pennsylvania. The individual began experiencing COVID-19 symptoms yesterday.”


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Saturday was the day of the Supreme Court announcement at the White House and President Trump’s rally in Pennsylvania. The President announced early Friday that he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive for Covid-19.

A third memo, at 3:35 p.m., said that a third member of the press corps has tested positive.

The individual was at the White House last Saturday and Sunday, and “began experiencing minor symptoms late Wednesday.”

CNN Business has reached out to major news networks and newspapers to ask about precautions they are taking.

A spokesperson for The Washington Post said, “We are working to identify Post journalists who may have come in contact with White House officials recently, to ensure that our colleagues are tested rapidly and fully supported.”

A person familiar with the matter at CBS News said the network is contact tracing and following company procedure for testing and quarantining, depending on the possible exposure.

And a spokesperson for NBC News said, “NBC News and MSNBC are following contact tracing guidelines as set forth by the CDC and the NBCUniversal Medical team and some employees will be self-quarantining out of an abundance of caution. We will also continue to follow WHCA guidelines on safely working and reporting from the White House.”


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Journalists, beware: This White House can’t be trusted to be truthful about Trump’s health

With the exception of Anthony S. Fauci, and maybe a few other top medical experts, there isn’t a trusted truth-teller in sight.

“Donald Trump’s way of dealing with negative news is consistent: Hide it, spin it, and always lie about it,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and now a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who was once sued, unsuccessfully, by the then-developer.

This moment, O’Brien told me, doesn’t promise to be any different despite the incredibly high stakes for national security as our allies and adversaries assess what’s happening and act accordingly, as markets react, and as more lives are threatened by exposure to the disease.

It’s no secret that a culture of lies permeates the White House. There has been a parade of press secretaries with a remarkably consistent record of failing to tell the truth to reporters and the general public. It started on the very first day of the Trump administration, when Sean Spicer lied by insisting falsely, at the president’s behest, that his inaugural crowd was the largest of all time.

That kind of dissembling is still happening on press secretary Kayleigh McEnany’s watch. At a briefing Thursday, Fox News Radio White House correspondent Jon Decker pressed her to provide details about Trump’s public claim that voters’ mail-in ballots had been “dumped in rivers.”

Where’s the river, Decker wanted to know and who is the “they” who found them there?

McEnany responded in her usual cocksure manner: “Local authorities. It was a ditch in Wisconsin.” She provided no other specifics, and let’s be clear: This is a hyperbolic tale meant to further voter mistrust in the integrity of the election.

This is the same press secretary who promised at the start of her tenure last spring that she would never lie to the press — and then immediately began to spread untruths.

The problem, to put it mildly, is widespread among administration officials. But it starts at the top with Trump himself who lies so relentlessly. As The Post’s Glenn Kessler put it in his introduction to the book, “Donald Trump and the His Assault on Truth”: “The pace and frequency of Trump’s falsehoods can feel mind-numbing — and many Americans appear to have tuned out.”

In this latest crisis, the predictable cycle of dangerous obfuscation has already begun. It was only after Bloomberg News reported that Trump aide Hope Hicks had tested positive for coronavirus that the White House acknowledged it.

Would we even know about Trump’s diagnosis if it weren’t for that? Maybe not. What about those he has come in contact with in recent days? Would they know they were endangered? The indications aren’t good. Yamiche Alcindor, the PBS White House correspondent, reported Friday that there was “no contact from the Trump campaign or the White House to alert the Biden campaign of possible exposure.” The campaign learned of the situation from news reports.

And when it comes to Trump’s health, he and his minions have a history of dubious statements. His former personal

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Raccoons for Trump! Why did the nocturnal beasts attack White House journalists? | Animals

Name: Raccoons.

Age: Typically, raccoons live only about two to three years in the wild because of disease, lack of food, predation, human intervention etc. In captivity, they can live considerably longer.

Fascinating. But presumably we’re not talking about raccoons – the North American mammal, member of the Procyonidae family – in general, but some specific and more newsworthy raccoons? Very specific and very newsworthy. We’re talking about the press-attacking raccoons of the White House.

No way. Go on, what happened? Four of them went for reporters and a photographer, grabbing their clothes as they went about their business on the north lawn.

Another sinister and disgusting attack against the press in the land of the so-called free! You could say. “Strong Pawnee vibes at White House this morning, as a raccoon attacked multiple news crews,” tweeted Paul Reid, the White House correspondent for CBS News. He added that the animals had “allegedly” grabbed a photographer’s trouser leg and had to be “fended off”.

Good thing he said “allegedly” – raccoons are notoriously litigious. Pawnee? The fictional raccoon-infested Indiana town in Greg Daniels’ and Michael Schur’s satirical TV sitcom Parks and Recreation.

Of course. But this is real, clearly political and underhand. They have obviously been trained to make sure the press can’t ask Trump any difficult questions – by any means. Allegedly. Obviously, that has been suggested, many times, amusingly, on the usual platforms. If everything else fails, release the raccoons!

Was Fox there? No, just the four raccoons.

No, silly. Fox News, the conservative, Trump-friendly cable news channel. Oh, I see … Hmm, no, there’s no mention of them being there at the time, actually.

See! Nothing suspicious about that. It’s clearly a plot. Send them in when they’re not there. Destroy! It’s rare for raccoons to attack humans. But they are known for their intelligence, their ability to learn and to remember tasks.

But they’re not noted for their right-of-centre political leanings, are they? Who knows? Maybe they’ve been brainwashed and seeing a journalist scribbling down notes is enough to send them into a frenzy.

Stop it! Do raccoons even pay income tax? That’s not public information, but probably more than Trump does.

Do say: “Did you know that in the 1920s Calvin Coolidge and his family kept a pet raccoon called Rebecca at the White House?”

Don’t say: “Person, woman, raccoon, cameraman, TV crew: Biden, get ’em!”

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